Congratulations to our USPHL Great Lakes Division All-Stars, with these seven players representing the best of the division.
Joe Shanley, Pittsburgh Vengeance
1999/Buffalo, N.Y. - 41-20-34-54-1.32
The Vengeance were among the top USPHL Premier squads all season long, and they almost captured the Great Lakes Division before a late surge by the rival Metro Jets.
Shanley was an ideal leader for a Vengeance team looking to become a major conversation piece, as he brought with him two prior seasons of USPHL Premier experience, first with the Connecticut Nighthawks and last season with the Niagara Falls (now Buffalo) Thunder.
At each stop he either doubled, or came close to doubling, his points output from the prior season - from 15 points in 2017-18, to 27 points in 2018-19, to 54 points this year. Shanley was a power play specialist, placing in the top 15 overall for power play goals (nine) and he also finished second in the USPHL Premier with nine game-winning goals.
Anthony Cinato, Metro Jets
2000/Warren, Mich. - 44-28-55-83-1.89
A Jet since he was 15 years old, Cinato has vaulted himself into the history books of the USPHL in just two short seasons. With 129 points in just 86 games these last two seasons, he is in the top 15 all-time for USPHL Premier scoring (and seventh among those who have played just two seasons).
For the 2019-20 season, Cinato finished sixth overall in scoring, and second to Jozef Martancik (Chicago Cougars) among Midwest Region forwards. He also got a chance on multiple occasions to show what he could do at the next level, playing a total of seven career NCDC games for the Boston Junior Bruins in 2018-19 and the Twin City Thunder this past season. He scored a goal in his stint with the Junior Bruins.
Cinato was always heavily depended upon by the Jets, as he led all forwards in ice time (18:36), and he even led the whole team in the final 10 games of the season (20:17). This comes as no surprise as he was responsible for 3.63 scoring chances per game.
Dakota Hitt, Lansing Wolves
2000/Jackson, Mich. - 43-36-13-49-1.14
You could not keep Dakota Hitt from the net this year, especially judged by his 4.88 scoring chances per game. Scoring nearly a goal per game, he was usually productive on these trips to the crease.
Hitt scored goals in 25 games this season, including nine multi-goal games and a pair of hat tricks. He put on a great show at the USPHL Detroit Showcase, where he posted four goals and two assists for six points between Oct. 11-13. Later, he posted one of his two hat tricks (and an assist) in a dominant 6-3 win over the eventual division champion Metro Jets.
And, by the way, he lived up to his surname - he led the team with 65 hits on the season.
Anthony Weinrich, Toledo Cherokee
1999/Toledo, Ohio - 43-12-30-42-0.98
Toledo was right there with the Jets and Pittsburgh Vengeance nearly all season long, keeping pace until the end when the Jets lifted off.
Weinrich finished 10th in the USPHL Premier scoring among defensemen, and he helped keep the shots against Toledo goalies to a respectable 32, and he helped them post nine total shutouts.
Weinrich also got a chance to play forward shifts, and he skated an average of 19:32 per game, and he led the Cherokee in power play time on ice (3:01). He also led his team in accurate passing percentage (76.6), takeaways (442), blocked shots (52) and shot interferences (13).
Jesper Svadang, Metro Jets
1999/Fahun, Sweden - 42-17-33-50-1.19
Svadang was certainly an outstanding international pickup, coming to the Jets for his first and only North American junior season. All he did was finish seventh among all USPHL Premier defensemen, one of only seven also to hit the 50-point mark.
He was the Midwest Region’s first Defenseman Of The Month and earned that honor twice as the Jets stayed at or near the top of the Great Lakes Division standings, and sealed the division title up with an 11-game winning streak at the end of the regular season.
Along with being a top offensive contributor in the league, he was also the Jets’ leading shorthanded player, averaging 2:55 on the kill each game.
Brodie Thornton, Metro Jets
1999/Macomb, Mich. - 44-23-33-56-1.27
Thornton is another player, like Cinato, who has been a career Jets player going back to their 16U teams. He has played three years for their top team, and had his best offensive year (switching between forward and defense) with 56 points, third in the league among defensemen.
Thornton, like his teammate Svadang, was twice a Defenseman Of The Month.
Along with his offensive exploits, Thornton was the plus-minus leader for the Jets with 50, and he also led in successful puck challenges (493). He was tied for second in the USPHL Premier for shorthanded assists as well, with four.
Kai Tomita, Pittsburgh Vengeance
1999/Tokyo, Japan - 19-14-4-0-1-1.84-.932
The Vengeance found themselves with one fantastic goaltender when they brought Tomita over from another Tier-3 junior league. Tomita could not be beaten in regulation for the first three months of this season, going 8-0-0-1 from Sept. 14 to Dec. 22.
Tomita rebounded quickly from his first two regulation losses (to high-quality opponents in Hudson and Richmond) to go on another big winning streak. He had six straight wins from Jan. 5 to Feb. 7.
Tomita, who won the first two USPHL Premier Midwest Goaltender Of The Month awards finished fifth overall in save percentage and sixth in goals against average (1.84).