Week of Oct. 18, 2022
By Grace Mello, Brendan Price and Joshua Boyd / USPHL.com
There were some wild results from California on up through Washington State and diagonally down to Utah this past weekend, as teams continue jostling for early favorable standings positions to try to gain advantages for the long haul of still many months of hockey ahead. We’re going to take a look here at how the top performing teams came out of this weekend, and what they have coming up.
Records Are For Game Action Since Oct. 12.
Fresno Monsters (2-1)
It was a single series weekend over in the Pacific Division, as the Fresno Monsters headed down to Ontario to face the Jr. Reign. San Diego, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Bakersfield, and Lake Tahoe all were off from game action.
The Monsters finished the weekend 2-1 giving Ontario their first losses of the season. Fresno won with scores of 6-4 and 5-4 putting their record at 6-3-0 with 12 points, while Ontario took Game 2 with a 5-2 score.
- Montreal, Quebec’s Christopher Miraldo (‘02) continues to get things done for the Monsters. The forward leads his team with 16 points in nine games after earning four points, two goals and two assists, this weekend.
- Following behind Miraldo, is Kazakhstan import Vitaliy Zhilin (’03), who grabbed three goals putting him at 11 points in nine games; Kelly Coldwater (‘04) had the GWG in a third period power play of the Sunday afternoon game for the Monsters.
- Despite going 1-2-0-0, the Ontario Jr. Reign still lead the division with 16 points and a record of 8-2-0.
- Coming up this weekend, the Monsters will travel to Lake Tahoe to take on the Lakers in a three-game series. The Monsters were 7-0-1-0 against Lake Tahoe last year, falling in OT on Oct. 29, 2021, in their first-ever meeting, winning by shootout the next night and then winning their next six after that in regulation.
In Other Action
- The Las Vegas Thunderbirds go up against the Long Beach Shredders in Vegas. The Shredders got their only win against the T-Birds on Oct. 29 of last year, as the T-Birds went 7-1-0-0 in the 2021-22 season series. Both teams are tied in the standings with eight points apiece.
- The Ontario Jr. Reign, San Diego Sabers, and Bakersfield Roughnecks are off from game action this weekend.
- Ontario’s Ethan McKibbin (’02) will carry the league’s longest current scoring streak into his next game, as he stands with 15 goals and 11 assists for 26 points in 10 games – and counting.
Utah Outliers (2-0)
The Outliers took care of business against the opposition this weekend en route to jumping into first place, winning their two games by a combined 22-3 score. Second-year Outlier Leyton Pettypiece (’02) had a four-assist night in the team’s decisive victory over Idaho Falls, and he already has 11 points (6-5-11) in seven games and is one of five Utah players with double-digit points through the team’s first seven games.
The Road Ahead: Utah travels to Pueblo to face the Bulls in three straight from Friday through Sunday. The Outliers are 7-0-2 in their previous nine games in Colorado.
- The offense is averaging 7.16 goals per game, which is actually second best in the league – and in Utah. The Vernal Oilers are first at 8.57. Unfortunately, these two teams do not meet in the regular season.
- Veteran forward Miles McCue (’02) is riding a seven-game point streak and leads the team with 16 points (5-11-16).
- Lost in all the hoopla around their offense, Utah’s goaltending has been elite – the trio of Marco Felicetti, Jaxon Letey, and Nathan Dickey have allowed just 10 goals in seven games and have a combined .926 save percentage.
- The Bulls ended last weekend on a high note by defeating Ogden 7-5, getting goals from six different goal scorers.
- Pueblo’s goal scoring by committee approach has been effective thus far; they average 5.5 goals per game as a team and have seven different players who have scored four or more goals.
- Pueblo rookie Max Marsiglio (’03) has nine points (4-5-9) in his first eight games and leads Pueblo in points so far.
- The Bulls will look to keep their top line of Isaac Hood, Rylan Marcum, and Owen Ames humming. The returning trio has combined for 19 points (10-9-19) in the team’s first eight games and both Elhan Egdahmi and Scott Bugarin have chipped in a point per game (4-4-8 a piece).
- • Between the pipes, Lucas Bjork and Alex Timmons have been a strong tandem through eight games; they have over a .900 save percentage facing an average of 36 shots per night.
Ogden Mustangs (2-1)
The ‘Stangs won two of their three games last weekend and watched their five-game winning streak get snapped in Sunday’s loss to Pueblo. Known more as a disher than a scorer, ’02 Jake Meure now has goals in five straight, including a hat trick and a four-goal game.
The Road Ahead: Ogden takes on Provo at The Ice Sheet, where they are 3-2-0-0 overall. The Mustangs hold a 14-3-1-1 all-time series record going back to their entry into the USPHL in 2020-21.
- A pair of ’03 sophomore sensations have been crucial in Ogden’s hot start. Center Dimitri Voyatzis has five consecutive multi-point games (4-8-12) and is second on the team in points with 15. Winger Andrew Alonzo has six points in his last three games (3-3-6) and is averaging a point per game.
Provo Predators (1-1)
The Predators got outstanding goaltending from Bryson Stern and timely goal-scoring from Gion Coray and Misha Mshar to earn a split with the Northern Colorado Eagles last weekend. Provo was a stellar 58 percent on faceoffs in their 2-0 win; it’s the fourth time in the first six games they have won more than half of their draws.
The Road Ahead: As mentioned above, it’s an all-Utah series between the Preds and ‘Stangs this weekend, Friday and Saturday.
- The Predators are just fine being on the road, as both of their wins early this season have come away from Peaks Ice Arena.
- The Provo “X” factor thus far has been goaltender Bryson Stern; the rookie has an eye-popping .985 save percentage in his two wins. The ‘03 from Littleton, Colo., is in his first USPHL season in four years – he previously played the 2018-19 campaign with the Northern Cyclones’ USPHL 15U squad.
Northern Colorado Eagles (1-1)
The Eagles earned a series split with Provo, living and dying by way of the shutout. NoCo goaltenders Charles-Anthony Barbeau (30-save SO) and Ulrik Roussel (40/42) combined for a staggering .972 save percentage on the weekend. Erik Brink picked up another goal in Friday’s 4-0 win and is up to a team-leading 13 points (7-6-13) in just nine games.
The Road Ahead: The Eagles are playing a home-heavy schedule in the month of October. Their upcoming Saturday-Sunday set against Idaho Falls marks the middle of a nine-game stretch in Greely.
- Northern Colorado’s goaltending and special teams play have been stellar thus far; Charles-Anthony Barbeau and Ulrik Roussel have combined for a 2.47 GAA, .924 save percentage, and a shutout.
- For the Spud Kings in Utah last week, they were able to break into the goal column in both outings and were within striking distance most of the game at Ogden on Saturday before the ‘Stangs opened it up late.
- Winger Ben Cesario (’02) scored both goals against Utah; he’s up to five goals and is the only Spud King with multiple goals thus far.
- Eight new skaters have joined the Idaho Falls roster since the Eagles and Spud Kings last met in mid-September.
Vernal Oilers (3-0)
The meeting of the two top teams in the Northwest entirely went the way of the Oilers, who remain 7-0-0-0, one of only three completely undefeated teams remaining in the USPHL Premier.
The Oilers beat the Seattle Totems 9-3, 4-3 and 7-4 over last Friday through Sunday. Vernal has six more games to try to match the 13-0 start put up by the WBS Knights as a first-year team in 2021-22.
Vernal is averaging an eye-popping 8.57 goals for per game, easily leading the league.
- Alex Rene Bartakovics (’04) has taken over the league lead in point scoring, with 29 points. That also gives him the most productive scoring streak, as he has registered points in every game played thus far, boasting a 10-19-29 line in seven games. There are longer scoring streaks (see note about Ethan McKibbin above), but no one has put up more points during a streak yet than Bartakovics. He scored his second hat trick of the season on Oct. 15, the 4-3 game.
- Filip Molnar (’03) has posted 13 goals in six games (the league’s fourth best streak), which is also good for third in the league, and his 22 points rank fifth.
- Austin Gilbert (’02) stopped 49 of 52 shots in the 4-3 win over Seattle for his first decision of the year after stepping in mid-game to help the team earn two earlier wins. Overall, he’s stopped 66 of 70 for a .943 save percentage.
The Road Ahead: The Oilers get their first look at the Rock Springs Prospectors on Saturday, the first of 15 meetings between the two squads that share ownership. Between Nov. 11 and Dec. 4, the Prospectors and Oilers will face each other seven straight times with no different opponents in between.
- The Prospectors are looking to put a tough loss to Ogden from Oct. 8 well behind them, as they hit the ice for the first time in two weeks.
- Rock Springs, Wyo., native Jorie Boyd (’02) leads the way offensively with 9-7-16 in their seven games so far.
Rogue Valley Royals (2-0)
The Royals earned wins No. 1 and 2 in their young USPHL history in a productive trip north to Bellingham, Wash., where they defeated the Blazers 6-3, 7-6 (tennis, anyone?)
Roberto Matias’ hat trick goal in the third period stood up as the Royals’ first game-winning goal in their USPHL history, which is still just seven games old.
They looked much more mature than their league infancy might suggest, however, when they came from being down 6-5 one night later, with late goals from Scott Vanderhof and Ko Sekiguchi, both on the power play and both in the final 2:15 of the game – Sekiguchi’s GWG coming with just 42 seconds on the clock. Scott Vanderhoff and Ethan Galvin had matching hat tricks in the game, as well.
Dawson Nelson and Tyler Hanson lead the team in scoring with 10 points apiece.
The Road Ahead: It’s right back up into the Evergreen State for two games against Seattle (Friday and Saturday) and one against Bellingham (Sunday).
- Seattle is smarting from their rough three-game weekend against Vernal, so they are hungry to get back into the W column. The Totems gave the Royals their first two losses in their first two games, 5-2 and 8-3, back on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
- Totems defenseman Joel Lyrintzis (’03) leads the way in scoring for his team with a 1-14-15 line, and his 14 assists are tied for fifth in the league. He is one of 13 blueliners league-wide either leading their team outright or tied for the lead in scoring.
- Bellingham is fighting tooth-and-nail for that first USPHL victory, and obviously came close on Oct. 15 against the Royals. They have some great weapons, including leading scorer ’04 Kieran Maloney, who is averaging a goal per game with an 11-7-18 line through 11 games.
Drop the Pucks!