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USHL Names Its Best For 2006-07

Monday April 16, 2007

Sioux City's Phil DeSimone is the USHL Player of the Year and the CCM USHL Forward of the Year.

With the close of the 2006-07 season, the United States Hockey League has announced its award winners for the year.  Coaches of respective teams nominated players for the awards and then the coaches voted to select the winners.  Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players. 

The Highwood Rings USHL Organization of the Year and the Dave Tyler Executive of the Year awards were chosen by a vote of the league's team presidents.

"This is always a great time of year when people who have had extraordinary years got recognized for their efforts," said USHL president Gino Gasparini.  "Each of these awards is big in its own way and the recipients should be extremely proud of their accomplishments."

Phil DeSimone - Sioux City Musketeers
USHL Player of the Year
CCM USHL Forward of the Year

DeSimone has been a three-year fixture in the USHL and is truly one of the league's success stories.  "It seems like now, about 40% of the players coming into the league already have a scholarship in their pocket.  Phil didn't have that.  He came in and through hard work has earned everything that he's received," said Sioux City head coach Dave Sicilano.  "He's been so consistent for us.  Last season in his first 30 games he had 20 points.  In his second 30 he had 33 points.  He really established himself in the second half of the year.  This year he's been over a point per game, so in his last 90 games he's been over a point-per-game.  That consistency is pretty remarkable."

DeSimone was among the scoring leaders in the league throughout the season.  He ended up finishing second in the league scoring race with 26 goals and 47 assist for 73 points in 60 games.  He's leaving Sioux City with a scholarship to the University of New Hampshire.

"He's matured a lot over his three years.  He's a leader both on and off the ice.  He went from being an assistant captain to our team captain.  He's worked extremely hard in the off-seasons and through hard work and consistent play has earned the respect of the players and coaches around the league," Siciliano said.  "All of these qualities lead me to believe that in addition to a future in college hockey, he also has strong potential going into the NHL draft." 

Max Pacioretty - Sioux City Musketeers
Official Game Puck USHL Rookie of the Year

Early in the season, Sioux City had the league's highest scoring line.  The line featured veterans DeSimone and Blake Martin.  The newcomer to the line was power forward Max Pacioretty.  A big player (6-2, 205 pounds), Pacioretty used his size and skills to stay in the top ten in scoring for the majority of the season.  He finished the season with 21 goals and 42 assists for 63 points in 60 games.

"He's had a big impact as a first year player.  He's a guy that you worry about every time he's on the ice," said Omaha head coach Mike Hastings.  "It usually takes a while for a kid to learn that you have to shoot the puck in this league to score, but he learned it right away.  That, along with his ability to create his own shot makes him dangerous.

"His strength, hand skills and tenacity separates him from the rest.  He has a great head for the game as well.  That whole line is good, but you take a kid like him and put him next to a guy like DeSimone and it becomes just lethal."

Pacioretty is committed to the University of Michigan.

Jeff Petry - Des Moines Buccaneers
ProGuard USHL Defenseman of the Year

Petry, a second round draft choice of the Edmonton Oilers a year ago, was a stalwart both offensively and defensively on the Buccaneers blue line.  Petry tripled his offensive output from his rookie season, scoring 18 goals and adding 27 assists for 45 points.  He was fourth in the league in power play goals with 15 and was fourth in scoring among defensemen.  His 18 goals led all USHL defensemen and he became one of the leaders for Des Moines, who needed him in that role to offset the loss of key players from last season's national champion.

"Jeff Petry is a very quality defenseman and has set a standard in this league for how a defenseman should play," said Waterloo head coach P.K. O'Handley.  "He is very talented and will have a nice career ahead of him."

Petry is committed to national champion Michigan State University.

Drew Palmisano - Omaha Lancers
Stauber's Goalcrease USHL Goaltender of the Year

After starting the season with a struggling Ohio club (he went 1-6-3 in 11 games for the expansion Jr. Blue Jackets), Palmisano saw his fortunes change with a December trade to Omaha.  Omaha had struggled equally in the early going, but their season turned around when Palmisano arrived.  He's 19-4-2 in 25 games with the Lancers with a 2.72 goals against average and a .914 save percentage.  The Lancers are 29-6-3 since Palmisano joined the team.

"Drew was the top Michigan AAA goalie last year.  He was rewarded by being one of the players that the Ohio franchise had signed to a tender in order to build their new franchise last spring," said Chicago general manager Jason Koehler.  "Shortly after the trade he helped solidify the shaky Lancer goaltending situation and put them back in the hunt for the Western Division title."

Palmisano is committed to national champion Michigan State University.

Zach Redmond - Sioux Falls Stampede
USHL Curt Hammer Award

The Curt Hammer Award is given annually to the player who distinguishes himself in the USHL as the most gentlemanly player, both on and off the ice.  He demonstrates outstanding performance skills, pride and determination.  The award goes to the individual who best reflects the goals of the USHL, his team and the organization.  His performance reflects a desire to achieve success all within the established rules of the USHL and the accepted bounds of courteous conduct.

"In my eight years of coaching in the USHL, I have not had a plyaer more deserving of this recognition," said Sioux Falls head coach Kevin Hartzell.  "Zach came to Sioux Falls two years ago heralded as one of the top defensemen in midget hockey, but a series of health issues took an entire summer away from his preparation before he arrived.  He struggled for a great part of his first season, often finding himself a healthy scratch, but continued to remain patient and hard working and continued on a slow but steady path of improvement.  It took him until half way through his second season to 'arrive' but has done so in a big way. He is a fine testament to what a young man can accomplish with his time in the USHL if he is patient and committed to developing his game."

Redmond is committed to Ferris State University.

P.K. O'Handley - Waterloo Black Hawks
Shaft Repair System USHL Coach of the Year

A year ago, the Waterloo Black Hawks finished the 2005-06 season on the outside looking on, one of three teams that failed to make the Clark Cup playoffs.  Fast forward one year and the Black Hawks are a USHL powerhouse, coming away with their third division title and first-ever Anderson Cup.  Fueled by the league's stingiest defense and a dynamic goaltending duo, Waterloo finished 39-17-4 on the year, besting the Omaha Lancers by a point for the best record in the USHL.

"P.K. did a great job with his team, as he always does.  They played a disciplined team game, excellent team defense and they are creative offensively," said Cedar Rapids head coach Mark Carlson.

Mike Hastings - Omaha Lancers
USHL General Manager of the Year

Early on, it looked as though the Lancers were going to struggle this season.  The season opened with an 8-1 loss to Lincoln and the team hovered at or near .500 for the first two-plus months of the season.  But a few shrewd moves by Mike Hastings, including the acquisition of rising stars Adam Comrie and Drew Palmisano from Ohio helped elevate the Lancers from average team to contender.  A strong second half gave the Lancers their 15th consecutive winning season and the top seed in the west division for the playoffs, and he did it all without a scorer or goaltender in the top five in the league.

"Mike's ability as a general manager is why his team took off two months into the season.  He made some key trades and acquisitions that enabled the Lancers to go from struggling to a team competing for the Anderson Cup," said Des Moines head coach Regg Simon. 

Michael Schupay - Indiana Ice
Dave Tyler Executive of the Year

The USHL created a new award to honor the executives in the front office that work so hard to make the USHL an enjoyable, entertaining brand of hockey both on and off the ice.  The award is named in honor of Dave Tyler, long-time vice president of junior hockey for USA Hockey, as well as a former, player and coach in the USHL.  He also served as the league's president. 

The inaugural winner of the Dave Tyler Executive of the Year award is Michael Schupay of the Indiana Ice.  Since the Ice came into the league three seasons ago, they have ranked at or near the top in attendance, using promotions like "Tony Stewart Night" and "Pack the House Night" to bring fans through the gate.  Not to be overlooked are the charitable contributions that the Ice have made, such as donating nearly $25,000 to local charities using proceeds from "Pack the House Night" alone.  The person behind the whole thing, is team president Michael Schupay.

"The Indiana Ice is very proud that Michael Schupay has been voted in by his fellow member organizations as Executive of the Year.  His character along with his business acumen have allowed the Indiana Ice to continue on its road to long term success from a business standpoint and also in the hockey operations department," said Ice CEO Paul Skjodt.  "From a community standpoint Mike introduced the new play hockey program to help create awareness and grow the sport locally, raised over $125,000 in charitable donations and initiated the new Bigfoot Foundation, a non-for-profit company to make sure our organization continues to give back long term.  Our fans, community leaders and corporate partners have really embraced the USHL product and we will continue to strive for excellence long term with Michael leading the way."

Waterloo Black Hawks
Highwood Rings USHL Organization of the Year

Once a franchise in a state of disarray, the Waterloo Black Hawks are now among the teams that sets the standard for how a team should be run.  For the third time in five years, Waterloo has been named the league's top organization.  With team president Butch Johnson, general manager of business operations Doug Miller and head coach P.K. O'Handley paving the way, Waterloo has become a success both on and off the ice.  This year, their attendance increased for the fifth straight season.  The team has done some research and it appears as though this is the first time that feat has been accomplished, at any level of hockey, since the Boston Bruins did it from 1969 to 1974.

"Kudos to the entire Waterloo organization for its outstanding season both on-and-off the ice in winning the USHL Organization-of-the-Year Award.  Led by Doug Miller, P.K. O'Handley and staff, the Black Hawks, I feel, are one of the most respected franchises in junior hockey and are constantly reinventing themselves to stay fresh and ahead of the curve. They also have one of the finest customer service operations anywhere in the sports & entertainment business", stated Jim Loria, Sioux Falls Stampede president, whose franchise has captured the coveted organizational award twice in the past five seasons.

RBK First-Team All-USHL
Goalie: Matt DiGirolamo - Waterloo Black Hawks
Defense: Jeff Petry - Des Moines Buccaneers
Defense: Derrick LaPoint - Green Bay Gamblers
Forward: Phil DeSimone - Sioux City Musketeers
Forward: Jacob Cepis - Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
Forward: Jared Brown - Lincoln Stars

Second Team All-USHL
Goalie: Drew Palmisano - Omaha Lancers
Defense: Colby Cohen - Lincoln Stars
Defense: Nick Petrecki - Omaha Lancers
Forward: James Marcou - Waterloo Black Hawks
Forward: Carter Camper - Lincoln Stars
Forward: Rich Purslow - Des Moines Buccaneers

Center Trophy USHL All-Rookie Team
Goalie: Kent Patterson - Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
Defense: Derrick LaPoint - Green Bay Gamblers
Defense: Blake Kessel - Waterloo Black Hawks
Forward: Max Pacioretty - Sioux City Musketeers
Forward: Josh Turnbull - Waterloo Black Hawks
Forward: Calle Ridderwall - Tri-City Storm

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