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).
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).