USPHL Through The Numbers: West Region
By Brendan Price, Joshua Boyd and Grace Mello / USPHL.com
(Records shown reflect games between Oct. 19-25)
(Summaries By Brendan Price)
No less than three Mountain Division members will hit the road (or the air) for their first USPHL Showcase Series event of the season, when they make their way to the USPHL Midwest Showcase in Blaine, Minnesota. The Utah Outliers, Ogden Mustangs and Idaho Falls Spud Kings are putting their games up against competition from the Midwest West and Midwest East Divisions. The Spud Kings’ games begin today (Wednesday), while the Outliers and Mustangs will begin their respective showcase stands on Thursday.
Utah Outliers (3-0-0-0)
The Outliers swept all three games in Pueblo (6-4, 5-4, 7-4), coming from behind twice and getting an overtime win in the middle game. Utah have now won seven straight games and retain their first place lead in the Mountain Division.
- The offense has moved into overdrive – it’s now seven consecutive games with five goals or more for the Outliers.
- The Outliers’ 8-0-1-0 overall record is their best start after nine games, compared with a 7-1-1-0 start last year, and a rougher 2-5-2-0 introduction to the USPHL back in 2020-21.
- Winger Will Cohen leapt into the top 10 in the USPHL in goal scoring (12) and center Miles McCue is now tied for 5th in assists (15) after their weekend in Pueblo. McCue’s 22 points in 10 straight games is tied for the league’s longest active point streak.
- Veteran Paul Wauldhauser has the Premier’s third-longest active goal-scoring streak, as he has put seven goals in over his last six games.
The Road Ahead: In Blaine, they Outliers take on a monster slate of opponents – Hudson, Wisconsin Rapids, Minnesota Moose, Minnesota Blue Ox – whose combined record is 21-8-1 on the young season.
Ogden Mustangs (2-0-0-0)
The ‘Stangs swept both contests on Cancer Awareness Weekend, beating the Provo Predators with two decisive wins while scoring 17 goals across two games. Ogden’s power play went 3-for-11 in the two games, improving to over 34 percent on the man advantage on the young season.
- Jake Meure continues to make goal scoring look easy; he picked up his third hat trick of the season and has a seven-game goal streak with 14 in that stretch. That is the second and most productive streak of the season. The Fremont, Calif., product’s 14 goals are just five short of what would be a career-high. Meure’s 20 points in seven games gives him the sixth-best current point-scoring streak in the league.
- Keep an eye on rookies Jared Weisert (6-10-16) and Jacob Williams (3-8-11), who have been key secondary scorers for the ‘Stangs. Williams has a six-game point streak and has recorded at least seven of his eight games played.
The Road Ahead: The ‘Stangs have been successful in showcases before. They went 4-0-0 in the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase last fall, including a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Blue Ox, whom Ogden faces at the USPHL Midwest Showcase on Saturday. PRior to that game, they face the same slate as the Outliers – the Hudson Havoc, the Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings, and the Minnesota Moose, though in a different order.
Northern Colorado Eagles (2-0-0-0)
The Eagles swept Idaho Falls, 7-1 and 5-1, thanks to some great goaltending and timely scoring. Rookie goaltender Evan Stringer went 2-0-0 and made 55 saves on 57 shots, while eight different goal scorers found the back of the net.
- Eric Horein continued his scoring rampage with two goals and two assists over the weekend and Quinn O’Reilly added a hat trick on Sunday.
- Horein leads NoCo in scoring (7-9-16) through 12 games and has burst onto the scene in a larger role, after playing a smaller offensive role with Wisconsin Rapids.
The Road Ahead: The Eagles will have a chance to take stock of where they’re at over about 10 days of practices and workouts ahead of their big Colorado rivalry weekend against the Pueblo Bulls over Nov. 4-6.
In Other Action
The Pueblo Bulls and Provo Predators will both try to shake up tough weekends against Utah and Ogden, respectively. They face each other in three games in Provo Thursday through Saturday.
- For Pueblo, encouragingly, forward Thomas Soucy snapped a five-game goalless drought with a goal in each game against Utah this past weekend, and Rylan Marcum has a five-game point streak (3-5-8) after finding the scoresheet in all three games this weekend.
- On top of Soucy’s success, the Bulls will look for Scott Bugarin to continue his scoring success; he leads the team with 14 points (4-10-14) in 11 games and has points in both career games against Provo.
- Provo was a stellar 58% on faceoffs in their 2-0 win over Northern Colorado when they split one week prior to the Predators’ Ogden series. That was the fourth time in the first six games they have won more than half of their draws.
- Provo finally snapped their power play drought last weekend with both of their goals coming on the power play and Darrian Cathey figuring into both. Second-year veteran Cathey has figured into seven of Provo’s 14 goals this season and has a career high seven points (2-5-7) in his first eight games.
- Idaho Falls’ Ben DiFiore played his two best games of the season last weekend and stopped 62 of 68 shots. DiFiore has faced over a shot per minute in his eight appearances and is third in the USPHL Premier in saves (394).
- Idaho Falls, which begins the Midwest Showcase Wednesday, start out against the Minnesota Squatch, followed by the Steele County Blades Thursday and both the Minnesota Mullets and Minnesota Moose on Friday.
(Summaries by Grace Mello)
While Bakersfield Roughnecks, Ontario Jr. Reign, and San Diego Sabers we off from game action this weekend, the Fresno Monsters and Las Vegas Thunderbirds went to work. Both teams finishing on the road with three-game sweeps.
Fresno Monsters (3-0-0-0)
Big things are happening for Fresno after their series sweep over Lake Tahoe. The Monsters won with scores of 7-2, 8-2, and 7-2, putting their overall record at 9-3-0-0. Following the weekend, Fresno earned six points moving them to the top of the division with 18 overall points.
- Christopher Miraldo (‘02/Quebec) currently leads the Monsters in points. After earning seven points this weekend, Miraldo now has 23 points in 12 games, and is currently tied for seventh in points in the USPHL Premier. He started off the weekend with a hat trick in game one and continued to earn three more goals and an assist to finish the series.
- Other key players for the Monsters this weekend included: Steven Blengino (’03) who earned nine points, three goals and six assists, and Vitaliy Zhilin (’03) who had a six-point weekend with two goals and four assists.
The Road Ahead: Fresno will take a short trip down highway 99 from Friday through Sunday to face the Bakersfield Roughnecks. The two teams have only previously met in pre-season exhibition games, making this their first regular season meeting.
Las Vegas Thunderbirds (3-0-0-0)
Back in action, the Las Vegas Thunderbirds earn a series sweep over the Long Beach Shredders.
The Thunderbirds won with three decisive scores, the closest being 7-1, putting their overall record at 7-2-0-0. They now have 14 total points, putting them in a tie for third in the division. It was a big scoring weekend for some of the T-Birds:
- Frederic Pinel picked up nine points, six goals and three assists; Samuel Dumont (’04) also grabbed nine points, with six goals and three assists. Both guys earned their first hat tricks of the season. Three of Dumont’s goals were on the power play.
- Antoine Tourigny (’04) and Narek Aleksanyan (’02) both picked up eight points over the weekend. Tourigny finished with three goals and five assists bringing him to 16 points in nine games, second highest in points for Las Vegas. Leading his team in points is Aleksanyan, after earning two goals and six assists, he sits at 23 points in seven games. He is not only leading his team but tied for seventh place in points in the USPHL Premier.
The Road Ahead: The Thunderbirds will take this upcoming weekend off from game action, returning to their home Lifeguard Arena on Nov. 3 for the start of a three-game series against the Roughnecks.
In Other Action: Coming up this weekend, the Lake Tahoe Lakers will travel to Carlsbad Icetown to take on the San Diego Sabers for the first time this season.
Last season, these two teams each got series sweeps over each other, going 3-3-0-0. San Diego is currently tied with Las Vegas in points with 14 and they have an overall record of 7-2-0-0.
The Long Beach Shredders and Ontario Jr. Reign will face off with two games this weekend. On Saturday, the Jr. Reign will host at Ontario Ice Center Arena and on Sunday, the Shredders will host at Lakewood Ice. These two teams opened up the season against each other and Ontario took both games with scores of 5-3 and 9-3. The Shredders currently have a record of 3-9-2-0 and Ontario has a record of 8-2-0-0.
(Summaries By Joshua Boyd)
We had some history made, we had a sweep and we had the first chapter in what should be a great rivalry. Let’s take a closer look at the past weekend in the USPHL Premier’s newest division, the Northwest.
Seattle Totems (2-0)
Seattle continues to move up the ranks with four more points in their pocket, which put them into the top 10 overall for points with 18. They lead the way in the Pacific points-wise, though they’re right now the mansion next to the castle, that being the still undefeated Vernal Oilers. Vernal remains two points back of Seattle as they’ve played four less games, but no one has yet been able to solve the Oilers – and Vernal is now off of game action for 10 days without any challengers.
Anyways, this is Seattle’s spot and they took a pair of impressive wins, 5-1 and then a closer 5-4 game that saw a 2-2 tie coming out of the first. It was anyone’s guess who’d win that one, but Seattle’s three-goal second period certainly went a long way.
- Austin Tessier’s 10th goal of the year was the difference-maker, the game-winner, against Rogue Valley in Game 2 of the weekend. He’s on an 8-2-10 scoring streak in his last six games. With that run, he tripled the five points he scored in his first six games.
- Defenseman Joel Lyrintzis (‘03) remains the Totems’ leading scorer with 2-16-18 totals in 10 games, and he is one point out of leading the whole league – a position held by Long Beach’s Yuri Stalev and his 19 points. He’s enjoying a 1-10-11 scoring streak in his last seven games, and he’s only missed the scoresheet once.
- Another Totems D on a hot streak is ‘03 Peter Konopka, who has posted a 1-7-8 line in four games.
The Road Ahead: The Totems remain at home this weekend at Olympic View Arena to take on the Rock Springs Prospectors. They last faced the Prospectors on Sept. 24, ending in a 3-2 win in overtime.
Bellingham Blazers (1-0)
The Blazers joined the win column when they defeated the Rogue Valley Royals in a huge comeback victory after falling by a combined score of 13-9 one week earlier to the same Royals. This time, it was all Blazers in a 7-0 victory, giving them their historic first USPHL win and shutout on the same day.
- Kieran Maloney stands as the only ‘04 in the top 10 of the league goal-scoring race, putting up three more to stand at 14 goals in 12 goals. He also has eight assists to give him 22 points, putting him in a four-way tie for 10th in points. An Oct. 7 shutout loss to Seattle was the only time he missed the scoresheet this year, and he’s on a current 7-5-12 scoring streak through his last four games.
- Kai Rivas (‘05) stopped all 42 Rogue Valley shots he faced for his first league victory and first shutout, individually.
- Tyler Chapman (‘06) is also carrying a hot hand, posting 2-6-8 in his last four games.
The Road Ahead: Bellingham will try to string wins together for the first time when they face the visiting Rock Springs Prospectors on Friday and then they get two more shots at Rogue Valley on Saturday and Sunday in Medford, Ore.
- While the Blazers are now 1-2 against Rogue Valley, they have some near-Halloween demons to exorcise against Rock Springs, who have taken four W’s at the Blazers’ expense this year. Their closest was a 6-4 Prospectors victory on Sept. 23.
Vernal Oilers (1-0)
The stars of northeastern Utah won their first showdown in what should be a great ongoing rivalry with Wyoming’s Rock Springs Prospectors, with whom the Oilers share ownership. The Oilers won the first chapter by a 5-2 victory.
The Oilers are, of course, completely undefeated at 8-0, and join the Metro Jets Development Program (6-0) and Hudson Havoc (4-0) as the last three perfect teams remaining. Vernal gets to remain so until next weekend, as they are off for this coming Friday-Sunday stretch and don’t get going in games again until Nov. 4 against Seattle and then two against the Blazers.
- Alex Rene Bartakovics is the highest-ranked ‘04 in the league points race, standing third with 29 points. His 19 assists are also good for second place in the USPHL Premier. Rock Springs were the first team this year to keep him off the scoresheet, breaking a seven-game point streak that saw him average over 4.00 points per game.
- Rock Springs also kept Vernal’s Filip Molnar away from extending his earlier six-game point streak to eight. He stands second in team scoring with 22 points in seven games, all coming from his first six contests. He is in a four-way tie for 10th place in league scoring.
- The Oilers did see multiple point efforts from three players who all have more quietly averaged over a point per game this year – Hugo Stalnecke and Presley Toth (1-1-2) and O’Shea Redcrow (0-2-2). Filip Lezzani’s two goals against Rock Springs were his first in the USPHL.
Drop The Pucks!