Since the USHL released their awards and I had a few doubts, I decided to hand out some Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog Awards. I'll leave the current awards alone and add in some of my own for fun. I will also have the Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog's Player of the Year. It won't be Jason Gregoire, since he already won the "official" awards. I will also be doing All-First, All-Second, and All-Rookie teams. These players will not be the same as the USHL's official award winners.
Defensive Forward of the Year: Brent Gwidt - Indiana Ice
Brent isn't the flashiest player out there, but he knows how to be responsible in the neutral zone as well as his own zone. He is probably one of the better defensive forwards I have had the pleasure of watching in the past few years, and it's my honor to recognize him for the work he does on the other side of the puck.
Runner Up: Matt Thurber - Omaha Lancers.
Defensive Defenseman of the Year: Matt Crandell - Sioux City Musketeers, Ross Henry - Lincoln Stars, and Keir Ross - Omaha Lancers
This decision was far too tough to just give it to one player. All three of these young men are how you'd want to model a defenseman. They are physical and don't make many mistakes. They were all at the top or near the top of the +/- chart for their teams. Though that doesn't tell the whole story, it is a good indicator.
Tim Ferguson Most Points Award: Jack Connolly - Sioux Falls Stampede and John Kemp - Indiana Ice
It took a big night to cap off the regular season for Kemp to share this award. Both players are very deserving and are extremely dangerous on the ice and fun to watch. Connolly is just a rookie, but didn't take long to adjust. Jack is extremely quick and a very big threat every time he's on the ice. Kemp is one of the best passers I have ever witnessed in the USHL. This kid can get the puck through some only dream they could do.
Rod Taylor Trophy (Most Goals): Jason Gregoire - Lincoln Stars
What more can you say about Gregoire? He does it all and is Lincoln's MVP. Jason can be a scoring threat or drop down to block a shot in his own zone. He's one of the most complete players this league has seen, and will eventually make the USHL proud. Jason notched 37 goals this season, 3 more than Indiana's Paul Carey. Gregoire won this award, despite playing in 52 games.
Tim Ferguson Trophy (Most Assists): John Kemp - Indiana Ice
As mentioned previously, John Kemp is an amazing passer. He has great vision and ran away with this award. Kemp amassed 59 assists on the season, 13 more over 2nd place finisher Jack Connolly. Kemp's 59 assists were better than the leading scorer of Cedar Rapids, Ohio, Green Bay, Sioux City, Tri-City, and Des Moines.
Ryan Ronkowski Trophy (Most PIM): Pierre-Paul Lamoureux - Tri-City Storm
Though playing in 50 of the 60 possible games, Pierre-Paul ran away with this award this year. Lincoln tough guy, Brandon Bollig, was outdone this season by 33 PIM. Lamoureux had six games with double digit PIM totals. Lamoureux averaged nearly 5 PIM per game this season for the Storm.
Dan Ellis Award (Most Shutouts): David Reekie - Lincoln Stars
David Reekie came to Lincoln and has been nothing short of amazing. Reekie helped the Stars become a contender and posted 6 shutouts. Eric Hartzell came in 2nd, with 5 shutouts on the year. David also led the league in GAA (2.01) and save percentage (93.5%). Reekie has been one of, if not the best, goalies this year.
Jeff Lerg Award (Most Goalie Wins): Drew Palmisano - Omaha Lancers
Palmisano won 32 games this season in 45 appearances. Scott Darling finished 2nd with 27 wins. Palmisano was a big part of why the Lancers were so successful this season, as he ranked 2nd in the league in GAA at 2.02. Palmisano played in the most games this season among the goalies, but still fell well short of the USHL record. Eric Pfligler owns that crown with 56 games played in a single season.
Ticket King Most Improved Player (Most Improved in MY opinion only): Patrick Wiercioch - Omaha Lancers
This kid had a ton of hype when Mike Hastings first added him to the team. At the Fall Classic, I didn't know what people saw in this kid and thought he wasn't very good. The only time I remember him doing something was when he skated off the ice holding his wrist. Patrick missed some time due to an injury during the season, but came back and has been a completely different player. He's out on the ice a lot and is put on the first PP unit for Omaha. He looks way more confident out on the ice and it shows in his game.
Runner Up: Scott Darling - Indiana Ice.
Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog Player of the Year: Brian O'Neill - Chicago Steel
Who? Some of you may be asking that question. O'Neill has quietly been one of the best forwards in the league this season. He doesn't get much publicity due to him playing in Chicago. He was paired on a line with Andy Miele and that definitely helped boost his stats, but he kept up the pace all season long, even after Miele left for Miami of Ohio. O'Neill is a gritty forward and isn't afraid to mix it up, and also led the league in +/- for forwards.
Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog All-First Team:
G - Brady Hjelle - Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
D - Keir Ross - Omaha Lancers
D - Matt Crandell - Sioux City Musketeers
F - Billy Maday - Waterloo Black Hawks
F - Ryan Kretzer - Lincoln Stars
F - Chris Connolly - Omaha Lancers
Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog All-Second Team:
G - Matt DiGirolamo - Waterloo Black Hawks
D - Ross Henry - Lincoln Stars
D - Tim Buttery - Chicago Steel
F - Simon Olsson - Chicago Steel
F - Brett Olson - Waterloo Black Hawks
F - Joey Miller - Sioux City Musketeers
Unofficial USHL Hockey Blog All-Rookie Team:
G - Scott Darling - Indiana Ice
D - Patrick Wiercioch - Omaha Lancers
D - Greg Pateryn - Ohio Junior Blue Jackets
F - Mike Cichy - Tri-City Storm
F - Andrew Miller - Chicago Steel
F - Stephane Da Costa - Sioux City Musketeers
F - Chris Forfar - Lincoln Stars