Wyatt Bongiovanni

Muskegon Lumberjacks (C)

25 GP: 12 goals, 11 assists

10. Muskegon Lumberjacks

12-11-1-1, Last Poll: 16

 

Muskegon is the hottest team in the USHL heading into January, having won each of their last six games, tied for a club record, to move into fifth place in the Western Conference standings. Several Lumberjacks went on an offensive binge in the month of December. Wyatt Bongiovanni led all USHL players in scoring in the final month of 2017 with 12 points (6G, 6A) in nine games, including consecutive three-point efforts on Dec. 16 and 19. Captain Anthony Del Gaizo was close behind, with 10 points (6G, 4A) in those nine games. Mikael Hakkarainen recorded nine points (5G, 4A) in just seven games, including a hat trick in a win over Team USA on Dec. 19, while rookie Matej Pekar and veteran forward Emilio Pettersen also picked up nine points in December. Bongiovanni finds himself in the top-five in USHL scoring with 23 points (12G, 11A) in 25 games, while Pekar continues to lead all rookies in points with 22 (5G, 17A). But it’s not just the offense that’s helped Muskegon earn victories. Goaltender Keegan Karki has won his last six starts and eight of his last 10 appearances dating back to Nov. 25. Two of those victories were especially sweet, as he won back-to-back starts against his former team, Team USA, including a 20-save shutout on Dec. 29. The Lumberjacks begin 2018 tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with their arrow pointed up.

 

 

 

9. Youngstown Phantoms

12-9-3-1, Last Poll: 5

 

Although they have dropped four spots in the rankings, Youngstown is poised to still be one of the top teams in the USHL in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign. The Phantoms currently sit in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference despite having lost their last four games, but that might be due to some of their top talent missing for part of December. The team was without the services of Curtis Hall while the Yale commit was with Team USA at the World Junior A Challenge, but he will be ready to go for the second half of the season following three appearances at the end of December. He will also be playing in the 2018 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game along with teammates Max Ellis and Ivan Prosvetov. Youngstown showed earlier in the season that they can be one of the top teams in the USHL, and they will look to get back to their strong play that had them atop the Eastern Conference earlier in the year.