USPHL Premier 2023-24 Northwest Division Players Of The Month: October 2023

All games of September and October taken into statistical account 


Forward: Kananga Mangala, Casper Roughnecks 

Mangala (‘05/Laval, Que.) is a fantastic find for the first-year Roughnecks, as he has posted a red-hot six goals and 14 assists for 20 points in 13 games to lead the first-year team. The Roughnecks, in turn, have started out a very respectable 6-6-1-0, thanks to the offense above as well as Mangala’s red-hot performance at the faceoff dot. He’s won 90 of 161 for a 56 percent success rate. That also helps in penalty killing, as Mangala – the leader in forward ice time overall for Casper – is also the top forward for shorthanded time on ice. He’s also part of an extensive tie for fourth in game-winning goals with three (or 50 percent of his total goals). 


Forward: Mario Paganini, Vernal Oilers*

The Oilers will probably greatly miss Paganini’s all-around offense, as he was just traded on Nov. 1 to San Diego. The sixth-year USPHL veteran and second-year Premier forward put up eight goals and 10 assists for 18 points in his 10 games with the Oilers. He went to the Sabers on an active six-game, 15-point scoring streak, including four points against his then-future team. With the Oilers, Paganini (‘03/Harrison, N.Y.) led the way in scoring chances (20) and drew 11 opponent penalties while sitting for only 10 minutes – on all minors – so far this season. 


Forward: Presley Toth, Vernal Oilers

They bid Paganini farewell, but they still have the returning Oiler Toth (‘04/Saskatoon, Sask.) who came off a 47-point season last year to put up 16 points in 10 games so far this year (5-11-16), which is good for about a 64-point pace. His 19:10 in ice time leads the Oilers, and like Mangala in Casper, he also has a 56 percent faceoff success rate as the leading center, winning 75 of 133 draws. He also leads all Oilers in power play time and has three power play assists so far. 


Defense: Preston Laupitz, Vernal Oilers 

A second-year junior defenseman, Laupitz (‘04/Kamloops, B.C.) posted two goals and five assists for seven points in six games. He is the second-leading defenseman in average ice time (19:55) and his nine blocked shots lead the Vernal defensive corps. He also leads all Oilers in shorthanded ice time, averaging 4:12 per game on the kill. He’s pretty much always available for any kind of duty as he’s only taken one single minor this season. 


Defense: Drew Heiser, Seattle Totems

He may not be shooting any lights out offensively, but the locally-born Seattle native Heiser (‘04) has been an absolute rock for the first place Totems. The 6-foot-5-inch, 205-pound blueliner holds a team-high +8 rating (double his next closest teammate) and he’s also blocked a team-high 19 shots so far this season. A defensive stalwart, Heiser has also been able to chip in offensively in a timely manner with the opening goal in an eventual 4-2 win against the rival Bellingham Blazers on Oct. 14, and he also assisted on two Seattle goals in an eventual 4-3 overtime loss to Casper on Oct. 6. 


Goaltender: Robert Allport, Casper Roughnecks 

Allport (‘03/Fitchburg, Wis.) has gotten the Roughnecks off to the aforementioned respectable start as an expansion team, thanks to his .920 save percentage and picking up the team’s historic first shutout – a 39-save gem against the Rogue Valley Royals on Oct. 22. He also posted 43 saves on 45 shots in an eventual 2-1 shootout loss to Seattle. 


Method of selection: The USPHL Media Team shares a first set of nominees from among statistical leaders with division coaches and accepts alternate nominations from coaches, where applicable. From these, the USPHL Media Team selects the final “starting lineup.” 

* = Traded to San Diego on Nov. 1.


Top Performers Of The Week (Oct. 24-31)

Forward: Mario Paganini, Vernal Oilers – In his final action for the Oilers, Paganini led the way offensively with two goals and four assists for a team-leading six points in four games against Ontario and San Diego (his new team). 


Defense: Gavin Kolbuc, Rogue Valley Royals – Kolbuc picked up a goal and an assist during the Royals’ weekend sweep of the Bellingham Blazers. He also put up five hits in the series. 

Goaltender: Emile Taillefer-Anctil, Rogue Valley Royals – It was a big 37-save performance (on 38 shots) that helped the Royals to a 2-1 victory on Oct. 28.