Midwest East Division
Forward: Steven Miller, Metro Jets Development Program
Miller (‘03/Howell, Mich.) had himself quite the four-game weekend at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase north of Boston. After posting a goal and an assist in his first game against the Springfield Pics, he came back the very next day and posted a hat trick plus assist against the Connecticut Jr. Rangers. He also scored the first goal and thus the game-winner against the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders, finishing up with a five-goal, two-assist and seven-point weekend.
Defense: Ty Kukielka, Midwest Blackbirds
Kukielka (‘04/Yorkville, Ill.) has quickly emerged as a strong, young defenseman for a Blackbirds team steadily climbing the Midwest East standings - they are currently on a 4-0 run. Kukielka scored the first goal to put the Blackbirds on the board after being down 2-0, and en route to a 3-2 win over Decatur.
Goaltender: Jack Webster, Midwest Blackbirds
The 2002-born Geneva, Ill., native is in his second season with the Blackbirds and he’s already tied his 2020-21 wins total with his fourth W. He stands undefeated in regulation at 4-0-1. Most recently he came into a game where the Blackbirds were down 2-0 after 6:51, and he shut the door from there on out. Webster made 31 saves to hold down the fort defensively, and allowed the Blackbirds to score three unanswered goals for a 3-2 win.
Midwest West Division
Forward: Jack Seamans, Minnesota Mullets
Seamans (‘01/Medicine Lake, Minn.) is in his second season with the Mullets and is simply tearing it up, standing at 26 points just five points shy of his 2020-21 points total. Over the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase weekend, he posted three goals and three assists for six points, posting a goal and two assists in his second game against Springfield. After a shutout loss to Utica, he helped the Mullets earn a point for the road with a 2-1-3 performance in a 5-4 overtime loss to Columbus.
Defense: Jack Kopfstein, Dells Ducks
The 2005-born Kopfstein, a native of Newport Beach, Calif., was huge in the Ducks’ win this past weekend against the Wooster Oilers, and strong as well in all the other games. Along with a five-assist weekend, Kopfstein put up a +4 rating for the Ducks. “He is an ‘05 who is always busting his butt,” said Head Coach Shaun Falzone. On the season, Kopfstein has 14 points in 23 games.
Goaltender: Riley Allen, Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings
Allen (‘01/Denver, Colo.) was almost unbeatable in his three games at the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase. He started out with a 31-save shutout against the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes and then posted a 25-save plus three shootout shots in a 2-1 victory against Twin City. He also made 27 saves in his only loss, a 1-0 defeat against the Bridgewater Bandits, who won with 38 seconds left in overtime. Overall, Allen is 8-3 on the season with a 2.09 goals against average, a .926 save percentage and two shutouts.
Great Lakes Division
Forward: Brendan Walk, Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones
After a tough outing for the Jr. Cyclones earlier on Friday against the Junior Bruins, Walk (‘01/Clarkston, Mich.) earned two goals and an assist right off the bat in his first Islanders Hockey Club Showcase game, including the game-winner against Philadelphia Hockey Club. He also had two assists against the Rum River Mallards and a huge two goals and four assists for six points against the Dells Ducks.
Defense: Josh German, Metro Jets
German (‘02/Canton, Mich.) was a leader with a goal and two assists for three points over the four games. He also led on the weekend with four hits and helped the Jets come out of the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase at 3-1. He had 10 points in 11 games.
Goaltender: Joey Cormier, Toledo Cherokee
The second-year Cherokee goalie has already pushed past his 2020-21 wins total, earning his 11th and 12th victories as the Cherokee swept the Fort Wayne Spacemen this past weekend. Cormier, an ‘01 Brownstown, Mich., has gone 9-0 recently. Cormier put up 56 saves against 58 shots, including stopping all 33 in a one-sided shutout victory.
Midwest West Division
The Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings very nearly came out clean from the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase, going 3-0-1, giving up only an overtime loss to the Bridgewater Bandits. Otherwise, they enter December on a 4-0-2-0 run, the best current run in the Midwest West - and gave them first place as well. Prior to the loss, the Riverkings won 2-0 over the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes, then they were 7-5 victors against the Philadelphia Hockey Club. They also won a 2-1 shootout against Twin City.
The Minnesota Blue Ox slipped to second place in the division, falling just two points behind the Riverkings. The Blue Ox started with a 3-2 overtime victory on Thursday, then hit trouble with losses to the Northern Cyclones and Ogden Mustangs, both 4-1 defeats. They rebounded with a 6-0 win against the Lake Erie Bighorns to hit the road on a high note.
The Hudson Havoc leapfrogged the idle Steele County Blades and took third place, and they likewise registered two wins and four points. The Havoc won 4-3 over Utica to begin their three-day journey at the showcase. Their second day saw a split, a 1-0 loss to Northern Colorado and a 3-0 win over the Columbus Mavericks. The showcase ended for them with a 3-1 loss to Bridgewater.
The Moose won 5-2 over Northern Colorado on Thursday to kick off the festivities, and they also fell in overtime, 1-0, to Twin City. The Mullets. Those three points put them into a tie for fourth with Steele County Blades.
The Minnesota Mullets, Rum River Mallards and Dells Ducks all remained in spots 6-8, respectively. The Mullets won a Friday morning game against the Springfield Pics, but in the end, those were their only two points for the four games. Rum River lost decisively in their first game against Bridgewater, but Saturday was much better for the Mallards. They defeated both Cincinnati and Lake Erie by matching 4-3 scores. However, the weekend ended with the same decisive score as it began in a loss to Utica Jr. Comets. The Dells Ducks registered two points as they beat Wooster, but they were unable to take away anything else.
Midwest East Division
Both the Chicago Cougars and MJDP won two games over the last week, so the tie remains at the top of the Midwest East. The Cougars went 2-0 against the Motor City Hockey Club and the Detroit Fighting Irish, winning the latter by a 5-2 score after being tied 2-2 after two.
The Metro Jets Development Program was the only Midwest East team that went to the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase, going 2-2. They started with a 4-2 loss to the Springfield Pics, but came back and shut out the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders 3-0. After also beating the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, 4-1, they fell in a 1-0 shutout loss to the Jersey Whalers.
The Midwest Blackbirds moved into a tie for third on the strength of two wins against the visiting Motor City Hockey Club (4-1) and the Decatur Blaze (3-2). They’re tied with the Fort Wayne Spacemen, who took a pair of losses to the Toledo Cherokee.
The last three spots didn’t see any changes, as the Detroit Fighting Irish gained four points to pull within two of the Spacemen and Blackbirds. They defeated the Decatur Blaze twice, 7-4 and 5-2, before falling on Sunday to the Chicago Cougars.
Neither the Decatur Blaze (with losses to the Fighting Irish and Blackbirds) nor the Motor City Hockey Club (who fell to Chicago and the Blackbirds) were able to add to their points totals.
Great Lakes Division
All but one of the Great Lakes teams made the trip to the Islanders Hockey Club Showcase, and many performed very well there. Even still, no one changed their standings position from week to week.
The Metro Jets remain the No. 1 team in the league, but are no longer undefeated. They took a Saturday morning 4-3 loss to the defending National Champion Charlotte Rush, but otherwise were dominant in wins against the host Islanders (4-1), Philadelphia Hockey Club (5-2) and the Northern Colorado Eagles (5-2).
The Toledo Cherokee - the lone team not making the trip east - took a pair of wins over the Fort Wayne Spacemen in two decisive wins. They have no intention of giving up the No. 2 spot, even with the Columbus Mavericks nipping at their heels after a 3-1 weekend in Massachusetts. The Mavs’ weekend began Friday morning with a 4-3 win against the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs. They split Saturday, defeating the Minnesota Mullets 4-3 in OT and falling to Hudson by a 3-0 score, before they defeated the Connecticut Jr. Rangers on Sunday, 3-2.
The Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones’ first trip to the East was a mixed bag of results, ranging from a decisive loss to the Boston Junior Bruins to a one-sided victory over the Dells Ducks. Their other win was a 4-2 defeat of Philadelphia Hockey Club and their weekend ended with a 3-2 loss to the Rum River Mallards.
The Pittsburgh Vengeance earned three points, all in their first two games - a 2-1 OT loss to the Northern Cyclones and a 5-4 win over the Northern Colorado Eagles. They also fell in shutout losses to the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs and Carolina Jr. Hurricanes.
Neither the Lake Erie Bighorns nor the Wooster Oilers were able to earn points out east. Lake Erie’s closest loss was 4-3 to Rum River, and they also fell to the Connecticut Jr. Rangers, Minnesota Blue Ox and the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. Wooster took defeats against New Hampshire, Dells Ducks, Twin City Thunder and P.A.L.
Be on the lookout late next week for the next edition of "The Breakdown: USPHL Premier" as we return to delving in-depth to what's going on in the Premier.