Throughout the 2018-19 season, the USA Junior Hockey Magazine will be selecting a group of Stars of the Month from a few of our closest partners. Included in the Stars of the Month will be a player from the North American Hockey League (NAHL), the Eastern Hockey League (EHL), the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL), and the Western States Hockey League (WSHL).
Schmidling and the Blues posted a record of 7-2-1 in the month of March, and officially clinched their spot in the 2019 NAHL Playoffs. With just a pair of games left against the Janesville Jets (April 5th and 6th), the Blues are locked into either the #2 or #3 seed in their division, and they'll take on the Minnesota Magicians in the First Round.
As for Schmidling, the '98 native of St. Joeseph, MO was excellent in the month of March, scoring 12 goals and dishing out 8 assists in the 10 games. For the season, Schmidling now has 65 points, which is more than he had in his previous two seasons combined (49 points). Looking ahead, one of the key stats for Schmidling this year are the five game-winning goals he's tallied so far, two of which came in March. Paired alongside Brandon Puricelli, the top two Blues scorers will look to continue to lead their team when postseason play begins.
Pickett and the Avalanche were a perfect 6-0-0 in the month of March, as they rolled their way to their second consecutive EHL Championship. The '99 native of Auburn, MA was named the MVP of the EHL Playoffs, after posting a 1.17 goals against average to go along with a .958 save percentage. Pickett was a true anchor for his team while standing tall between the pipes in every postseason game.
Looking ahead, Pickett will now set off for Suffolk University this fall, where he will look to carry over the success of his lone season in the EHL. Combined between the regular season and the playoffs, the 6'1 netminder owned a record of 30-2-0, to go along with a 1.57 goals against average, a .942 save percentage, and six shutouts.
Perets and the Bruins found their backs against the wall twice, but battled their way to this year's NCDC Championship. After sweeping the Boston Jr. Bandits in the First Round of the USPHL Playoffs, the Bruins dropped Game #1 in each of their next two series. In the Second Round, Perets and the Bruins held the Northern Cyclones in check to advance to the Dineen Cup Finals. In the Championship stage, Perets was the leader again, after the Connecticut Jr. Rangers took the opening game of the series.
Overall the 2000-born native of Quebec, Canada posted a 6-1-1 record in his team's eight playoff games, to go along with a 1.62 goals against average and a .949 save percentage. After going 23-10-1 in the regular season, the future Bobcat at Quinnipiac University put his team on his back, en route to the winning it all at the USPHL's NCDC level.
Rampinelli was the first WSHL player to be honored by the USA Junior Hockey Magazine this season, and now he's just the second junior hockey player to be recognized twice during the 2018-19 season.
After tallying 83 points during the 2017-18 season with the Mustangs, the '98 native of Lakewood Ranch, FL has blown past his first year totals. So far during the 2018-19 season, Rampinelli has scored 58 goals and dished out 74 assists (132 points) in just 51 total games. Rampinelli is a big reason why Ogden is nearly perfect with an overall record of 47-2-2 heading into the Thorne Cup Finals. The Round Robin stage is set to begin on Tuesday, April 9th, with the Mustangs scheduled to face-off against the Oklahoma City Blazers, the Edson Aeros, and the El Paso Rhinos. Rampinelli and the Mustangs will own one big advantage, as Ogden is this year's host for the 2019 Thorne Cup Finals.
For the first time this season, we have a back-to-back honoree. Jenuwine claimed top honors in January after tallying 20 points in ten total games for Amarillo. At the time, the '98 native of Michigan was the 2nd leading scorer in the NAHL, sitting just one point behind Samuel Solensky of Johnstown. Now he's at the top of the charts, thanks to 18 more points in February. Jenuwine's excellent month was highlighted by a five-goal performance against Odessa back on the 1st. Overall, Jenuwine now has 81 points as the Bulls turn the calendar over to March, and begin to prepare for the postseason.
Discanio and the Lumberjacks ripped through the month of February, posting a record of 9-2-0 in their final 11 games of the regular season. As for the '99 native of Troy, NY, Discanio scored just a trio of goals during the month, but more importantly, he showed off his play-making ability while racking up 17 total assists. The big month included three separate games where Discanio notched four assists, as he finishes off the regular season having tallied 55 total points to his name. Vermont will now enter the EHL Playoffs as the #3 seed in the New England Conference, with their sights set on Providence, RI and the EHL Frozen Finals.
McCoy and the Islanders battled their way through an up and down month of February, but the 2000-born forward from Newburyport, MA was steady throughout. McCoy tallied at least a point in all but one game, and finished the month with six goals scored to go along with 12 total assists. For the season, McCoy now has 52 total points as the Islanders turn the page towards the final four games of the regular season. The Islanders find themselves just inside playoff picture, but they still need to take care of business down the stretch, in order to officially clinch their spot in the NCDC playoffs.
Eakett and the Blazers ripped through the month of February, going 4-2-1 in their seven games. As for the '99 native of Provo, UT, Eakett notched 21 total points, and that included an eight-point game against the West Sound Admirals. For the season, Eakett now has 106 total points in 43 games to date, which is already over 40 points more than what he tallied in his first full season in the WSHL (63, 2017-18). Looking ahead, the Blazers have four games remaining as they get ramped up for the upcoming WSHL Playoffs.
Jenuwine and the Bulls continue to set the pace in the South Division of the NAHL. Amarillo won eight of their ten games in January, and Jenuwine tore it up, tallying 20 total points during that stretch. Heading into February, Jenuwine is ranked as the 2nd leading scorer in the NAHL, as he sits just one point behind Samuel Solensky of the Johnstown Tomahawks. The month ahead includes an even split of home and road games for the Bulls, as they move their way closer towards clinching a division title.
Kerbrat and the Avalanche posted an 8-1-0 record during the month of January, and the ’98 forward was held off the scoresheet just once during that stretch. In his final season of junior hockey, Kerbrat added eight goals and nine assists to his name, giving him 56 points in 34 total games to date. Paired with Jake Adkins, Kerbrat has been an offensive catalyst for the defending league champions, as they close in on another division title and a First Round bye in the EHL Playoffs.
Our top performer from the NCDC moves us back to the blue line, as Palocsik also tallied 17 points (3 goals, 14 assists) in the month of January. The talented defenseman played a key role in the eight games that his team won, as he tallied at least a point in every one of those matchups. Palocsik and the Hitmen have 12 games remaining as they look to maintain control of top spot in the NCDC standings, heading into the playoffs.
We wrap things up with Heden and the Aeros, who won all eight of their matchups in January, all while averaging an incredible 8.13 goals for game. Heden played a huge role on offense for his team, as the WSHL’s league-leading scorer found the back of the net 13 times. To go along with his scoring ability, Heden’s play-making talents were on full display as well, as he racked up 20 assists throughout the month. The incredible first month of the calendar year helped push Heden past the century mark for points so far this season, as Swedish forward will begin February with 103 points to date.
Vernon and the Wings won all eight of their games in the month of December, stretching their active winning streak out to nine total games heading into 2019. The '98 netminder from San Jose, CA was between the pipes for six of those victories, posting a pair of a shutouts, a 1.20 GAA, and a .966 save percentage. The stellar month of December improved Vernon's overall record up to 19-4-3 for the year, to go along with a 2.15 GAA and .931 save percentage. Vernon is in his second season with the Wings, and he's already surpassed the 2017-18 campaign in which he won 17 total games. Aberdeen is at the top of the Central Division, with a small cushion and a game in hand over the Austin Bruins.
Vonakis and the Little Flyers went 6-1-0 in the month of December, and averaged a phenomenal 5.43 goals per game. The '99 native of Abingdon, MD was a key cog behind Philadelphia's big offensive month, scoring seven goals and dishing out 14 assists. Dating back to November 1st, Vonakis is the top scorer in the EHL, tallying 35 points to his name during that stretch (14 games). The Little Flyers own the top mark in the league, and they will carry their 25-2-1 record with them into the final stretch of the regular season. Even though Philadelphia does have a nine-point advantage over the New Hampshire Avalanche for the top spot in the league standings, the Little Flyers still have their work cut out for them in January and February.
Slyne and the Rangers posted a record of 6-0-1 in the month of December, the the 13 points they earned helped move them all the way up to 4th place in the NCDC standings. As for Slyne, the '98 native of Greenwich, CT scored a pair of goals and dished out eight assists in the seven total games. For the season, the Rangers' captain now has 12 goals and 19 assists in 29 total games to date. Looking back throughout Slyne's junior hockey career, and the 6'2 forward has been a product of the Rangers' organization for a long time. After developing with the Rangers at both the 18U and the 16U levels, Slyne began his junior career in the USPHL Premier (2016-17), and is now in his second season at the NCDC level.
Rampinelli and the Mustangs won all seven of their games in the month of December, and that includes a perfect 3-0-0 record at the showcase in Las Vegas. Ogden is now 26-1-1 through their first 28 games, and they will carry the best record in the league with them into 2019. As for the '98 native of Lakewood Ranch, FL, Rampinelli tallied 17 total points (nine goals, eight assists) in his team's seven games. Rampinelli capped things off with a four-goal performance in an 8-2 victory over the Edson Aeros, putting a bow on a phenomenal first half of the season for Ogden. Looking ahead Rampinelli and the Mustangs have 23 games left in the regular season, as they look to secure the top seed heading into the WSHL Playoffs.
McPhail and the Tomahawks won all 10 of their games in the month of November, and the '98 native of Fenton, MI was between the pipes for 9 of those victories. Overall, McPhail now owns a record of 15-1-0 in his first season in the NAHL, and his 1.98 GAA and .935 save percentage each rank as the 4th best in the league. Johnstown is the undeniable leader in the NAHL right now, as they own a 12-point advantage in the league standings heading into December. McPhail is a big reason for the team's success and he will look to stay hot in the final month of the calendar year.
Abouelhana continues to lead the EHL in scoring, having tallied 47 total points to date. Back for his 2nd season with the Revolution, the '98 native of St. Louis, MO is on a great pace to surpass his numbers from a year ago, when he tallied 59 points in the regular season and then 4 more in the playoffs. As for this past month, Philadelphia went 6-1-0 in their 7 games, and Abouelhana notched 15 total points (5 goals, 10 assists). Overall, Abouelhana has been held off the scoresheet just twice, as the Revolution begin to move their way through the final month of the calendar year.
Elgstam and the Hitmen won all 6 of their games in the month of November, outscoring their opponents 33-6 along the way. The '98 native of Stockholm, Sweden played a big role in his team's perfect month, as he scored 4 goals and dished out 11 assists in his team's 6 games. For the season Elgstam now has 28 points through his first 25 games, which ranks him as the 4th leading scorer in the NCDC. The Hitmen also continue to sit at the top of the standings, having not lost a game since October 28th. Elgstam will look to help keep his team rolling with a busy month of December leading up to the holiday break.
Sticking with the trend so far this season, the month of November brought us another official who has earned every opportunity that he's been given. Mitrano has worked his way up from junior hockey, to collegiate hockey, and this year, he's got his first taste of pro hockey with the ECHL. Not many officials stay as busy as Mitrano does during the hockey season, as he continues to develop with games every week throughout the different levels. Mitrano without a doubt became a better official with the experience he gained from working junior hockey, and is very grateful for all the games he officiated in both the EHL and the USPHL.
Solensky is in his 3rd season in the NAHL, and he's on pace to to set new career highs and then some this year. In the 2 previous seasons, the native of Slovakia tallied 23 points (2016-17) and 46 points (2017-18) respectively. To date this year, Solensky has scored 9 goals and dished out 19 assists, tallying 28 total points through his first 17 games. For Solensky, he followed up a 10-point September with an 18-point October, as he took over the league-lead in scoring and also helped push his team to the top of the East Division standings. The talented scorer may be hard-pressed to tally 92 points and keep the pattern rolling, but he's definitely a player to keep an eye on as we work our way through the season.
We will change up the birth year a little bit with this one, as Marcinkevics continues to turn heads as one of the youngest players in the EHL. Through his first 15 games this season, the 2001-born native of Latvia has tallied 24 total points, and that doesn't include the pair of points he notched while playing for the EHL's All-Star Team against Plymouth State and UMass Boston. Marcinkevics is as talented as they come at 17 years old, and he's only getting better. As for the month of October, Marcinkevics tallied 13 total points, capped off with a 5-point game against the Vermont Lumberjacks on the 28th. Looking forward, the Wolves are in the middle of a tight New England Conference, and they will need to lean on Marcinkevics as the season unfolds.
Speaking of scoring leaders, how about Brandon Osmundson of the Hampton Roads Whalers? The '98 from Chesapeake, VA has been with the Whalers program since the 2014-15 season, and he's off to a great start this year. To date, Osmundson has tallied 41 points through his first 17 games, and he ranks as the top scorer in the USPHL's Premier Division. Focusing in on the month of October in particular, Osmundson racked up at least a point in every game, and that includes an 8-point night against the Motor City Hockey Club. After being held off the scoresheet in his team's opener against the Charlotte Rush, Osmundson is riding a 16-game scoring streak, and he's a huge reason why his team is undefeated and at the top of the South East Division standings.
Just like in September, the month of October brought with it an official who earned his opportunity. Jared McMullen has made great strides this season, and he was rewarded this past month with a set of collegiate hockey games. McMullen is the latest example of how junior hockey isn't just an avenue for players to develop, but officials as well. Looking back at Jordan Deckard, the October Official of the Month, and he's helping show the path of just how far you can make it if you put in the work. McMullen is off to a great start towards following in Deckard's footsteps, and his month of October was a big reason why.
Back for his 2nd season in the NAHL, Datema has played a key role on the Bulls’ blue line. After being held off the scoresheet in Amarillo’s loss on opening night against the Lone Star Brahmas, Datema has tallied at least a point in all 6 games since, and more importantly, has helped his team go a perfect 6-0-0 during that stretch. Datema and the Bulls are currently tied at the top of the league standings with 12 points in their first 7 games. As for the year that the ’99 from Michigan is having, his 6 goals and 5 assists to date have already helped him set a new career high for points in a season. Through 43 total games last year, Datema racked up a pair of goals and 7 assists to his name.
As has become the trend in Aston, PA, the Little Flyers continue to bring in new top scorers each and every year. In the first month of the season, Philadelphia hit the ice for 8 games, and the 2000-born forward tallied at least a point in each and every game. Giampapa’s 11 goals led the EHL, and his 19 total points ranked 2ndoverall in the league. Similar to Datema and the Bulls, Giampapa and the Little Flyers also find themselves at the top of the league standings. At the end of September their perfect mark of 8-0-0 gave them a 4-point edge over the next closest team.
Rounding out our group of players is the leading scorer in the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC). Through 7 games, the ’99 forward has 8 goals and 10 assists to date, which gives him a 7-point lead on the next closest scorer. Only once this season has Colella tallied just a single point in a game, as he’s picked up at least 2 points in every other contest. Through the 7 games, the Islanders are 4-3-0 and right in the thick of things in the NCDC.
Just like the players in junior hockey, the officials get to use the games as a chance to learn and develop. The players’ goals are set towards reaching the next level, and that’s exactly the same for the officials as well. For one individual in particular, Jordan Deckard, the time he spent officiating in multiple junior leagues led to a chance to do the same at the collegiate level, and now for the American Hockey League (AHL).