(Summaries by Jonathan West and Joshua Boyd)
Alex Rene Bartakovics, Vernal Oilers
An ‘04 native of Slovakia in his second North American season – he previously played last year with the West Coast Renegades AAA program – has absolutely lit up the new Northwest. Bartakovics leads the division with 29 points off of 10 goals and 19 assists, and his 3.63 points per game is second in the USPHL Premier (and he is in a three-way tie for eighth, points-wise).
The first-year Premier Vernal squad remains one of the three undefeated teams in the league coming out of October, due to the efforts of Bartakovics and his linemate Filip Molanr, also among the league leaders in points per game (see below). They are 8-0 with a goal differential of +46, and Bartakovics helped that along by scoring in every game between Oct. 1 and 16, racking up all 29 points in actually seven games.
Filip Molnar, Vernal Oilers
Molnar, an ‘03 from Bratislava, Slovakia, has also been adding some heavy power to the Oilers’ offense, posting 13 goals which rank in the top 15 of the entire Premier. He’s added nine assists for a total of 22 points in eight games. His own 3.24 points per game average ranks sixth in the USPHL Premier as well.
Molnar joined from the West Coast Renegades alongside Bartakovics when the Oilers began forming their first USPHL Premier team this summer. Molnar has registered three hat tricks early on this year, including a 4-3-7 line against the Rogue Valley Royals on Oct. 9.
Tyler Hanson, Rogue Valley Royals
Hanson is a local boy done good for the Royals, as the ‘03 hails right from Medford, Ore., and has been on fire throughout the month of October. With a three-goal, three-assist effort on Oct. 30, he helped put on a show for his hometown crowd to lead the Royals to their first-ever home win at the RRRink.
Hanson put up 14 points in six games between Oct. 8 and 22, ahead of his current scoring streak of seven points over the Oct. 29-30 weekend. He came in with previous USPHL Premier experience skating briefly for the former Southern Oregon Spartans and Motor City Hockey Club (now Gamblers).
Kyle Russell, Vernal Oilers
Russell (‘02/Dallas, Texas) sits inside the Top 10 of defender points-per-game at 1.75, and he is tied for 11th of all USPHL defencemen in total points (four goals and 10 assists in only eight games).
Russell has helped the Oilers remain undefeated on the young season, as the team is ranked No. 1 in the entire league. Russell is also a +18 for the Oilers.
Joel Lyrintzis, Seattle Totems
Lyrintzis (‘03/Seattle, WA) is a rookie for the Totes this year, and on a team that spreads around its stats, he is the top assist man in the whole USPHL.
At 5’9” Lyrintzis is top five in total points (2G 18A in 14 games) for league blueliners, versus just six minutes in the box. Lyrintzis has points in eight out of the last nine games going into November. He averages a team-leading 27:02 of ice time per game, and has 52 takeaways on the defensive side to also lead Seattle.
Antonio Tarantino, Vernal Oilers
Tarantino (‘02/Fremont, Calif.) owns six of the Oilers’ eight wins so far this year. His .949 save percentage ranks No. 2 in the USPHL versus games played. And his 1.95 goals against is ranked eighth. Tarantino slid east to Vernal after playing for Ogden last year. In a division with plenty of offensive powerhouses, Tarantino has not given up any more than three goals in any game. His two most recent starts on Oct. 16 and 21 both saw 34-save victories.