Wisconsin Rapids’ Yildirim Named 2023-24 USPHL Premier Fan’s Choice Goaltender Of The Year

By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 


The Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings’ Bora Yildirim led all USPHL Premier goaltenders in save percentage in 2023-24 with a .950 mark, which helped push him to also become the league’s leader in the inaugural Fan’s Choice voting for USPHL Premier Goaltender Of The Year. 

He cleaned up with 926 (or 60 percent) of the 1,543 votes in the final of two rounds of voting, in a 1-on-1 competition. In the first round of voting, which began on May 6, Yildirim was the top vote-getter out of 54 Premier goaltenders who received votes (write-ins were allowed in the first round). He earned 336 out of the 1,325 total first round votes, giving him a total of 1,262 of 2,868 votes over the two rounds. 

“I was pleasantly surprised since there was a big competition from the very first round and some good quality goaltending going against me,” said Yildirim, of the Fan’s Vote contest. “I cannot thank my family, coaches, girlfriend, friends, teammates, and our amazing fans enough for making this happen. This certainly is not an individual achievement, but rather a teamwork achievement. Being chosen as the Goaltender of the Year is probably my greatest achievement so far, and it feels amazing.”

Yildirim, whose .950 also ranks seventh all-time in USPHL Premier history for a single season save percentage, also finished third in goals against average this year at 1.56, giving him a spot in the all-time single season top 20. 

“Playing for the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings under our GM/Head coach Paul Pechmann was an incredible and life-changing experience. Thanks to this opportunity provided by our coach, I got to see the other side of the world and experience what junior hockey in United States is about,” added Yildirim, a native of Prague, Czechia. “I can certainly say my goaltending skills have developed throughout last season playing for the Riverkings and that is mainly due to our facility, which was accessible to us nine hours a day where we could improve our skills. We had an amazing group of teammates during both of my years playing there. And I can’t forget to mention our amazing fan base that supported us throughout the whole season on and off the ice up until the very end when some of them even showed up for Nationals in Utica.”

Indeed, the Riverkings made it back to Nationals for the first time since 2018, and Yildirim, who went 12-2-3-2 in the regular season, was at the forefront of that postseason push. He played in three of their postseason games, including two at Nationals, and went 2-1 in the playoffs with a .947 save percentage, including a huge 47-save performance in a win against the Ontario Jr. Reign in Utica.   

“I would say my goaltending style is a mix of calm and aggressive play with a lot of competitiveness in it. I certainly like to play the puck whenever the opportunity is provided and you could ask our coach how many times I’ve come close to giving him a heart attack because of it. I enjoy creating opportunities for forwards by making a quick pass up to them, so the play can shift back to the offensive zone,” Yildirim said. 

“My skatework is a huge part of my style on which I work with my personal goalie coaches during the off-season,” he added. “We spent countless of hours to improve the smallest details and making sure I am fully prepared for next season. But in the end, I think the biggest part of my goaltending is the mental preparation for which I am thankful for my friend who is a sport psychologist, as her advice guided me towards the right direction.”

The USPHL Premier congratulates Bora Yildirim on being named the inaugural USPHL Premier Fan’s Choice Goaltender Of The Year.