As the USHL’s 2011-12 season draws closer to the end, it’s not difficult to see the league’s elite contribution to the NHL Entry Draft crop rise.
While players like Zemgus Girgensons and Michael Matheson of the Dubuque Fighting Saints and USNTDP skaters Stefan Matteau and Brady Skjei draw continual praise, the United States Hockey League has plenty more to offer.
Austin Cangelosi of Youngstown being one. The smallish but elusive forward is over a point-per-game and is a constant threat when he’s on the ice.
Defenseman Jaccob Slavin has been an absolute rock for the once-moribund Chicago Steel, as the Colorado product is being used in every situation imaginable, something that has drawn NHL scouts to the Windy City.
Robbie Baillergeon and Robert Polesello have been key components in Indiana’s success this year, while Matt DeBlouw has been one of the bright spots on a struggling Muskegon team.
It is certainly worth mentioning that Cristoval “Boo” Nieves has nine points in 10 games for Indiana since his arrival into the League from Kent of the Connecticut Prep ranks, and should make the Ice a viable contender for the Clark Cup.
Taylor Cammarata, who is 2013 eligible, is having one of the best seasons for a 16-year-old in recent memory; 62 points in 53 games, which leads his Waterloo Blackhawks in scoring.
Unlike their colleagues and sometimes counterparts to the North whose playoff seasons are already in the second rounds, things are only beginning for the USHL.
Will it be a guy like Kevin Roy who continues his star-quality season for Lincoln, or will be a guy like Nieves or Alex Kile of Green Bay, or an Austin Farley of Fargo who steps up his game for the intense meat grinder that is the Clark Cup Playoffs?
That question has yet to be answered.
It behooves Future Considerations to acknowledge Shattuck St. Mary’s capturing their second consecutive USA Hockey Under-18 Tier 1 Championship.
The legendary Minnesota Prep School has been a factory of NHL talent for years; names like Zach Parise, Jack Johnson, Derek Stepan, and Sidney Crosby have all suited up for the Sabres and more recently the much-ballyhooed Nathan MacKinnon, who stands to be the top pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Shattuck’s fourth such win in the last six years featured a roster of five draft-eligibles on roster who could hear their names called in Late June.
Hunter Fejes led tournament scoring with four goals and eight points in six games, along with Theodor Bleuger led the team in scoring and not only represented his native Latvia at the World Junior Championship but headlines their U-18 Championship entry as well.
Zach Stepan, cousin of the aforementioned Derek Stepan, scored the game-winning goal in the Championship game against the LA Jr. Kings. Defenseman John Draeger and winger Jake Montgomery also shown they have the potential to draw the scouts all season long.
Stepan and and SSM teammate Noah Henry will be heading to Penticton in the fall, eschewing the USHL for the BCHL before their NCAA tenures begin.
Its not just these two who the Vees have recruited as Evan Anderson of the Colorado Thunderbirds, a highly touted AAA draft eligible will join them. More recently, Edina High’s Louie Nanne made a visit to check out Penticton as they battle toward the BCHL championship.