USHL Report – May 2019
It is always exciting covering prospects from the USHL. Draft evaluations begin to take over this time of year. However, there is always time for the latest from the league. Overall, it was a month of great plays, saves, and more.
The playoffs continue as the Clark Cup Final gets underway this weekend between the Chicago Steel and Sioux City Stampede. We preview the “Final” and look at the notable events from the last month including the USHL Draft.
Clark Cup Final Preview
The playoffs are always a different animal and this year was no different. One thing with the USHL Playoffs most forget is that the first-round (those with no bye) is a best of three format. Every other series after is a best of five. It throws off the numbers a bit sometimes. Sioux Falls just missed out on the bye but benefit by playing in the tougher conference. They wound up with more points than Chicago and therefore have home ice advantage.
Sioux Falls dispatched Sioux City quickly then polished off Waterloo in four games. After that, it was a painless sweep of Tri-City and here they are. Chicago did get a first-round bye and defeated both Cedar Rapids and Muskegon in four games to advance to the final. Games 1. 2, and 5 are in Sioux Falls while 3 and 4 are in Chicago. Games 3 and 4 are on back to back nights.
The season series was taken 2-0 by Sioux Falls. Both meetings were high scoring as they defeated Chicago 8-6 and 7-4 respectively. Nick Abruzzese leads the way in scoring among the two teams with 13 points. That includes seven goals in just eight games! Max Crozer tops defensemen with ten points in nine games for Sioux Falls (three goals, seven assists).
Max Crozier has seen his stock go upward and is now ranked 85th among North American skaters. His point plus a game performance in the playoffs has raised a few more eyes. Crozier is a Providence commit come the Fall. Crozier gained some weight in the last year and that has been noticed by some scouts along with a little more scoring punch. The combine will be intriguing for him and Abruzzese.
As we go back to Abruzzese for a second, he scored 29 goals and 51 assists during the season and was known more for playmaking even though he has a well above average repertoire of shots. He is eligible to be drafted and ranked 122nd among North American skaters. His strong showing may make him a late second-day pick as his stock keeps rising slowly. He may be small according to some, but the Harvard commit is tenacious on pucks and his speed is well above average. The forward is a main reason why most pundits do not think this will be a Sioux Falls cakewalk. Lastly, most predictions have Sioux Falls winning in four or five games.
More News and Notes
As the USHL season ended, and the U-18’s started, there was the crazy story of how Bobby Brink got to the World’s even while sick with the flu. After Sious City was swept by Sioux Falls, there were the airplanes and the coughing and sneezing plus the fever. Brink admittedly arrived in Sweden losing about 4-6 pounds in weight and feeling a little dehydrated. He played hours later and still had a nice start to the tournament. In five games, Brink had three goals and three assists. While the forward did not have the eye-popping totals of Jack Hughes or Cole Caufield, Brink’s presence was noticeable for his ability to forecheck and attack was top-notch. Brink ranks in the mid to late first round by most scouting sites and high as 12th by Elite Prospects.
The USHL Draft
Finally, there was the draft which took place this week. Phase one consists of all U-17 players while phase two is open to all eligible junior players that do not have an affiliation to another USHL team.
Carter Schade and Luke Mittelstadt went 1-2 to Lincoln and Madison respectively. Aito Iguchi, of YouTube fame went 103rd overall to Waterloo. The 15-year old will be one to keep an eye on as far as his development in the league. One other player to note was Tyler DesRochers who was drafted 18th by Green Bay. DesRochers’ stock went up pretty quickly in most circles as the Howell, NJ native enjoyed a breakout season playing for the Mercer Chiefs U16 squad.
Among Phase Two notables, Ethan Haider was one player that caught my eye. Though he was only ranked 11th among eligible goalies, the Minnesota Magicians goaltender is 6’2” 207 pounds and growing. Does he get drafted? That’s a good question. The answer is possibly but Haider is a player who could probably use another year of development – especially in the USHL. It was quite a draft as the future of the league was being picked. Training camps come June and July should be an experience and will be covered here.
That is all for now. You can follow me on Twitter @ChrisWasselDFS for the latest hockey and hockey prospect news. See you next month with the latest from the USHL.
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