(Summaries by Jonathan West)
Alex Rene Bartakovics, Vernal Oilers
Highly regarded as the best player in the Northwest Division, if not the entire league, ARB notched eight goals in eight December games, including four in four USPHL Las Vegas Showcase games. His recent 13-game point streak started on Nov. 4, and was broken in Vegas on the last game of the year. Bartakovics is ranked second in the USPHL in assists and points, and has tendered with next year’s NCDC Provo Predators team, when they start in the NCDC West in 2023-24.
Raine Hodge, Seattle Totems
The Ontario native made the biggest splash in the Northwest Division last month. Moving to the Emerald City with his good friend Jesse James Aitken, Raine scored five points in his first Totes game on Dec. 3 and had a 10-6-16 line for the month. The left winger simply creates multi-point results, with only three USPHL games played so far with less than that result.
Scott Vanderhoff, Rogue Valley Royals.
The Crown have a rising star in this centerman, #11. He posted 10 goals in 10 games along with seven assists in December. Vanderhoff (’05/Vernon, N.J.) had a six-game point streak from Dec. 3 to the Vegas Showcase as he picked up slack for the injured and absent Tyler Hanson in Sin City. His seven points in three games at home versus Rock Springs was one of the best series performances of the month.
Kyle Russell, Vernal Oilers
Garnering accolades from his Vegas showcase performance, Russell has the tools to be the best defenseman in league. The ’02 Vernal captain from deep in the heart of Texas had eight goals in eight December games. Add 11 assists and a +11 rating and that is a recipe for this honor. He currently leads all USPHL defensemen in points (49), assists (35), and short-handed goals (three).
Filip Lezzani, Vernal Oilers
Another Oil defender with December honors. The ’04 from Puchov, Slovakia, recorded 11 points in nine games (2-9-11). His +13 rating led the entire Northwest Division for the holiday month. In Vernal’s only loss of the season against Fresno in the Vegas showcase, he tied for the team lead with two points, and had three assists against Ontario.
Antonio Tarantino, Vernal Oilers
The winningest netminder in the league so far this season rounds out all December selections behind the blue line for the team from Eastern Utah. In seven games, Antonio posted a .920 save percentage and tallied five wins plus an overtime loss to Rock Springs. In the Vegas showcase, he faced 92 shots with a 1-1 record. Currently he is ranked sixth in total save percentage at .938.