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USPHL Alumni Clean Up In College Hockey Awards

By Joshua Boyd / , 03/10/19, 8:00AM EDT


BOSTON, MA -- It has been proven time and time again that more USPHL players move on to col- lege hockey than from any other U.S. hockey league.
When they make it there, they continue to excel at spectacular rates of success.

First, you have to look at nine Hobey Baker Award nominees for the 2019 award, coming directly from the USPHL or 2018-19 USPHL member organizations.

When looking at the NCAA Division 2 and 3 ranks, three USPHL alumni have already been named overall Players Of The Year for their respective conferences, along with Goaltender Of The Year, Defensive Player Of The Year and Rookie Of The Year honors for four others.

It’s clear that USPHL players don’t just get to college - they get there and make a massive impact.

Atlantic Hockey Association

Joe Duszak was one of the nine Hobey Baker candidates for 2019, and he also earned the highest monthly honor for NCAA hockey - the Hockey Commissioners Award for the month of January.

Through Feb. 28, Duszak had scored 43 points in 33 games this year and is nearing the 100-point mark for his NCAA career.

Duszak played with the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders organization from 2012 through 2016, finishing in the USPHL Premier (the league’s top junior division at the time) as the Player Of The Year for 2015-16. He played in more than 180 league games, putting the current USPHL veterans we profiled in these pages in very good company.

He was also in very good company, as he was among eight different USPHL alumni to earn weekly or monthly awards. Dalton MacAfee (Army/South Shore Kings) is also a Hobey Baker candidate and two-time Defensive POTW winner in the AHA.

Duszak joined former P.A.L. teammate Cameron Heath (Canisius) also earned on the Atlantic Hockey Association Preseason All-Conference team. He’s earned four Player Of The Week awards, and was the AHA’s Player Of The Month in January. Heath also earned POTW honors in Atlantic Hockey.

Matt Ladd (Canisius/South Shore Kings) is a two-time AHA Goalie Of The Week.

Steven Ipri (Mercyhurst/South Kent Selects Academy) won December’s Rookie Of The Month and a Rookie Of The Week award, as well.

Joe Duszak's former team the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders are in on the campaign to have him chosen as a Hobey Baker Award finalist. Courtesy / P.A.L. Jr. Islanders

Hockey East Association

Ahead of the season-ending awards in March, USPHL alumni have already done very well in the Hockey East, which shares a very similar footprint to the NCDC and much of the USPHL Premier and Elite Divisions.

David Cotton, who played multiple seasons with the Little Bruins (current EHF Selects members), has earned Player Of The Month and Week honors this year with Boston College. He is among the field of nine Hobey Baker nominees with USPHL ties.

Joel Farabee (Boston University/South Kent Selects Academy) has been Rookie Of The Week twice.

Craig Pantano (Merrimack/South Shore Kings) won Player Of The Week honors on Jan. 7 and was the Defensive POTW on Oct. 22.

Jack Dugan, who committed to Providence while with the Northwood School, won Rookie Of The Month twice and Rookie Of The Week honors once this season.

Additionally, former Junior Bruins Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup (Maine), John Picking (Northeastern) and Mike Robinson (New Hampshire) have earned Hockey East Weekly Awards.

ECAC Hockey

Chase Priskie, a senior and second-year captain at Quinnipiac, is a former South Kent Selects Academy player who was also named as a Hobey Baker nominee. He was ECAC Player Of The Week on Dec. 3.

Another Hobey Baker nominee is Cameron Donaldson, a sophomore at Cornell, who played for the Mid-Fairfield Jr. Rangers 18U team (now part of the EHF Selects Division) during the 2015-16 season.

Former Islanders Hockey Club standout Justin Pearson was the Rookie Of The Month for January and Rookie Of The Week for Dec. 10. Drew O’Connor (Junior Bruins/Dartmouth) earned Rookie Of The Week honors after a three-point game to start his career vs. Harvard on Oct. 27. Brown University’s Alex Brink played 174 USPHL games with the Junior Bruins and was named Player Of The Week.

Division 1 Western Conferences

Hobey Baker candidate Evan Barratt was the Big Ten Hockey Conference’s First Star on Nov. 20 and Second Star on Dec. 11. Barratt is a veteran of the USPHL 16U Division skating for Penn State.

On Nov. 23, his Nittany Lions teammate Alex Limoges (South Kent Selects Academy) was Second Star in the Big 10. He also joined Barratt as a Hobey Baker Award candidate.

Notre Dame’s Callahan Burke, who played with the Junior Bruins and Little Bruins in 2013-14, is the other USPHL alum from the Big 10 to receive Hobey Baker Candidate honors. He was Third Star in the Big 10 on Oct. 23.

Joey Daccord, a goaltender for Arizona State, split the 2014-15 season between the USPHL’s Boston Junior Bruins Premier team and Cushing Academy. He is now a junior for the Sun Devils and a Hobey Baker candidate, rounding out the group of nine players with USPHL ties.

Matthias Emilio Pettersen was a two-year South Kent Selects Academy standout in the USPHL, from which he committed to Denver University. He was the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s Rookie Of The Week for Week 2.

Northeast-10 (NE10)

The Northeast-10 Conference, America’s only NCAA Division 2 college hockey conference, has already named its season-ending award winners.

Robbie Roche, who played at different times for the South Shore Kings, Boston Junior Bruins and Northern Cyclones organizations, was awarded Defensive Player Of The Year and First Team All-Conference.

Devan Sheth skated for the Islanders Hockey Club in 172 USPHL games before joining Assumption College. He was named Rookie Of The Year, First Team All- Conference and All-Rookie.

USPHL alumni filled five of the six spots on the NE-10 All-Rookie Team, and three of the six spots on each of the First and Second All-Conference teams. Along with Sheth on the All-Rookie team was his Assumption teammate Robbie Holyoke (South Shore Kings). Sheth and Holyoke each won two Rookie Of The Week awards during the season.USPHL alumni landed Northeast-10 weekly honors in 11 of the 14 weeks, and captured 16 of the 42 total weekly awards. Notably, Tim Decker (Saint Michael’s) won Goaltender Of The Week three times this season - he spent time with both the Rochester Jr. Monarchs and Syracuse Stars.

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

Former Islanders Hockey Club forward Lucas Michaud captured the Rookie Of The Year Award after a strong season of posting nearly a point per game (24 in 25) at Trinity College, and he was a Second Team All-NESCAC selection.

Michaud is another longtime USPHL veteran, having played in more than 160 games at different levels. Colby’s Nick O’Connor, another former USPHL Premier standout, was a First Team All-Conference player, as well as Michael Grande. A defenseman for Trinity, Grande has played for both Rochester and South Shore in the USPHL.

Another former King, goalie Tedy Loughborough, was named Second Team All- NESCAC. The NESCAC only named one Player Of The Week each week, and both Michaud and former Rochester Jr. Monarchs goalie Josh Sarlo (Tufts) earned those honors this year.

Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC)

University of New England captain Brady Fleurent captured CCC Player Of The Year honors. The senior played in 120 USPHL games between 2012-15. Along with Player Of The Year honors, Fleurent also captured First Team All-CCC and two POTW honors.

Former South Shore Kings Ben Churchfield and Tommy Besinger earned Second Team All-CCC honors. Nick Cyr - a former Springfield Pic who played in 148 USPHL games - was on the Third Team, alongside goalie Justin Ketola (P.A.L. Jr. Islanders).

The CCC featured USPHL alumni in all but two out of the 14 weeks, capturing all three spots on Dec. 9 - Adam Tracey (Junior Bruins) as Player Of The Week, Conor O’Brien (Connecticut Jr. Rangers) as Rookie Of The Week and Ketola as Goalie Of the Week. That was Ketola’s first of two honors.

O’Brien won two straight Rookie Of The Week honors, as did former Islanders Hockey Club Midget player Ricky Carballo.

Lucas Michaud, a former Islanders Hockey Club player, was named Rookie Of the Year for the New England Small College Athletic Conference. He was a longtime veteran of the league playing in 169 league games. Photo by Joshua Boyd.

New England Hockey Conference (NEHC)

French national Tom Aubrun won Co-Player Of The Year and Goaltender Of The Year honors in the NEHC for Norwich, capitalizing on a career that saw him play his first North American hockey in Rochester with the USPHL. He was also First Team All-NEHC.

Jonas Toupal (Hobart/South Shore) was also First Team All-NEHC, as was Nick Albano (UMass-Boston/Islanders HC). Second Team honorees included Carlos Fornaris (New England College/Connecticut Jr. Rangers), Austin Rook (Skidmore/ South Shore) and Anthony Pupplo (New England/P.A.L.). Zach Sternbach (Hobart/ Rochester) was on the Third Team. Mikhail Bryan (UMass-Boston/Springfield) was a two-time Player Of The Week. USPHL alumni accounted for 15 of the 42 weekly award winners.

United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC)

Chalk up another Player Of The Year honor for a USPHL alum, as Connor Powell (Elmira College) shared the honor with Manhattanville’s Matt Lippa. Powell played two years of USPHL 18U with the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs.

J.R. Wojciechowski was Defensive Player Of The Year with Nazareth, and is a former Rochester player in the USPHL.

Powell was joined on the First Team All-UCHC by former Islanders Hockey Club player Gregg Burmaster (Utica). Elmira’s Matthew Cuce, a former Florida Jr. Blade and Springfield Pic, was named to the Second Team, with Wojciechowski and former Rochester goalie Sean Kuhn (Nazareth).

The UCHC All-Rookie Team was a who’s who of USPHL alumni. Former Charlotte Rush teammates Justin Allen (Utica) and Tyler Barrow (Wilkes), former Hampton Roads Whaler Regen Cavanagh (Utica) and Elmira’s Matthew Cousino, formerly of the Hitmen and Connecticut Jr. Rangers, filled four of the six spots.

USPHL alumni also filled weekly award winner spots in 12 of the 14 weeks, including three weekly sweeps.

Connor Powell, a former New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs Midget player, was named as a Co-Player Of The Year by United Collegiate Hockey Conference. Courtesy / Elmira College Athletics.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)

The MASCAC typically names its award winners and all-conference teams around March 7, but USPHL alumni have made great pitches to be all over those lists.

Looking at the MASCAC’s weekly honors, players from this league won awards in 11 of the 12 weeks, including sweeping the second week of the season. That week saw Mike Moran (Junior Bruins) win his second straight Player Of The Week award. He was recognized alongside former Junior Bruins Elite teammate Brian McGrath (Goaltender of the Week) and three-year South Shore King Jacob Ratcliffe (Rookie Of The Week).

McGrath won three GOTW’s this year, giving him an inside track on the conference’s top goalie award. Former Hitmen Matt Volonnino (Plymouth St.) was also twice Player Of The Week, and Parker Butler (UMass-Dartmouth) was three times a GOTW.

Ryan Hoff won two straight ROTW awards - he was a former South Shore Kings and Boston Bandits Midget player. Worcester State’s Evan Schieber, who spent four years with the Atlanta Jr. Kings organization (playing more than 150 games), had the final ROTW award.

SUNYAC Hockey Conference

Conlan Keenan played nearly 200 junior games in the USPHL and its predecessor leagues, finishing with the New Jersey Hitmen before joining SUNY-Geneseo.

Keenan, the captain of Geneseo, was a First Team All-SUNYAC selection and a three-time Player Of The Week.

Jimmy Poreda, who played his last two pre-college years in the USPHL for the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, earned Goalie Of The Week honors four times this year in the SUNYAC for Plattsburgh State. He was a Second Team All-SUNYAC selection, joining Plattsburgh teammates Cam Owens (Islanders HC) and Matt Araujo (P.A.L. Jr. Islanders) in that respect. Morrisville’s Nick DeVito (South Kent Selects Academy) and Brockport’s Ryan Romeo (N.J. Hitmen) gave USPHL alumni five of the nine Second Team spots.

Romeo’s Brockport teammate Doc Gentzler (Potomac Patriots) and Cortland’s Nick Modica (Hitmen) were Third Team Selections.

USPHL alumni earned weekly awards in 13 of the 14 weeks, accounting for nearly half of all awards in the SUNYAC.

Additional Division 3 Awards

Josh Koepplinger, a former Florida Jr. Blades standout and Lawrence University’s captain, earned First Team All-Conference in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.

Former Hitmen player Eric Brenk (Augsburg College) also earned a Player Of The Week award in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and Michael Romund (MSOE/P.A.L.) was a two-time NCHA Offensive Player Of The Week.