USPHL Premier 2023-24 Pacific Division Players Of The Month: January 2024

Selection Process: The league media office sends top statistical candidates to divisional coaches for review and coaches either approve or challenge the nominations. 


Summaries by Joshua Boyd / 


Forward: Yegor Kabataev, Fresno Monsters

Kabataev (‘03/Karaganda, Kazakhstan) has been a huge offensive contributor all season to the already offensively gifted Monsters. But January was just something else entirely for the Kazakh in his first North American season. He exploded for four goals and 15 assists for 19 points in the space of just five games, giving him a 3.8 points per game average. Kabataev now has 56 points in 25 games this year. He also led the Monsters in plus-minus during January with a +19. 


Forward: Noak Persson, Fresno Monsters

Persson (‘03/Solleftea, Sweden) is on the verge – literally one goal away – of setting the new all-time goals record for the USPHL Premier. And he may also potentially break the all-time Premier scoring record. Persson missed some time in December and more than made up for that by averaging five points per game through January, posting 17 goals and eight assists for 25 points in just five games. No one in Premier history has come close to his 3.63 career points per game over 56 games. He has 203 points since joining the Monsters last season. And before you think he’s not passing the puck, think again. Along with 105 goals, he also has 98 career assists. 


Forward: Mario Paganini, San Diego Sabers 

The ‘03 out of Harrison, N.Y., has been absolutely on fire since rejoining the Sabers, the team he originally saw success in the Premier with in 2022-23. After a trade this year from Vernal, Paganini has registered 57 points in just 16 games, an average of 3.56 points per game. He was actually a little above that for January, during which he posted nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points in six games (3.83 points per game). He’s certainly enjoying this, his sixth overall season in the USPHL after also playing Midget hockey in the Connecticut Jr. Rangers system prior to his Premier career. 


Defense: Emile Rodrigue, Bakersfield Roughnecks 

Rodrigue (‘04/Saguenay, Que.) certainly travels a long way to be part of the Roughnecks – more than 3,100 miles from his home – but he makes it worth it every trip. During the month of January, he put up nine goals and added 10 assists for 19 points in just 10 games for the Roughnecks. That month helped him already bypass his 2022-23 scoring, in which he posted 29 points. He now has 40 points for this season through 37 games. His 23:18 of ice time per game led the team in January, as did his 54 blocked shots. 


Defense: Steven Blengino, Fresno Monsters 

Blengino (Pribram, Czechia) registered five goals and added six assists for 11 points during his January games, averaging over two points per game. He also led the Monsters with an average ice time of 25:52 per game. Blengino currently has an 11-game point streak going for the Monsters stretching from Dec. 8. The earlier stretch of that run was a huge relief for the team when the Monsters were without Persson’s services. He had already posted 57 points in 45 games last year, but he’s already blown past that in Year 2 with 70 points in 34 games, averaging more than two points per game for the whole season just as he has for this past month. 


Goaltender: Connor Dumesnil, Bakersfield Roughnecks 

Dumesnil (‘04/Phoenix, Ariz.) was everything the Roughnecks needed him to be as the Roughnecks try to remain in a playoff spot for the upcoming postseason in March, where just one Pacific Division team will win and make the trip to USPHL Nationals. In 300 minutes in January, he stopped 119 of 127 shots for a .937 save percentage. He also had a 1.60 goals against average and a 4-1-0-0 record. Two of those wins were from shutouts (including a huge 39-save performance against Las Vegas). For this season, the second-year Roughneck has a 12-8-0-0 record and a .922 save percentage.