League scoring leader credits team for his offensive success
Mason Bergh opened the season in a big way and has been among USHL scoring leaders ever since. (photo by Serena Dalhamer)
Mason Bergh made his first appearance in the USHL three years ago after his senior year at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota. The next season, his first full-time action with a USHL club, Bergh scored 25 points (11g 14a) for the Chicago Steel. In just 15 games this season, Bergh is already about to eclipse his career-high in points and currently has sole possession of the USHL points lead.
His season got off to a huge start when he recorded six points (1g, 5a) in the season opener for the Steel, an 8-2 win against the Green Bay Gamblers, and he has been a regular on the scoresheet ever since.
Bergh’s success this season has a lot less to do with what is seen on the scoresheet and more with his makeup. Bergh, 19, has become a locker room favorite and leader with his ‘we’ attitude.
“Since the day we reported, Mason has led by example and made sure every player in the locker room feels at home,” said Scott McConnell, Chicago Steel Head Coach and General Manager. “The consistency he has show on and off the ice has been a great learning tool for our news guys to try and reach.”
It is very difficult to get Bergh to talk about himself. When asked about his early season success, spring boarding him to the USHL points lead, he credited linemate Fredrik Olofsson, a Chicago Blackhawks 2014 draft pick. When asked about his leadership, he thanked the entire Chicago Steel coaching staff. When asked about his speed and skill, he thanked his Minnesota hockey upbringing.
He has become the perfect leader for the 8-5-2 Chicago Steel.
“It’s simple really, hockey is supposed to be fun,” Bergh explained. “We have a locker room that doesn’t dwell on mistakes. Mistakes happen, but we don’t harp on one another. We really get along on and off the ice.”
The chemistry Bergh speaks about isn’t just limited to he and Olofsson, but is extended to the entirety of the locker room.
“We have 12 forwards who can score,” Bergh said. “If someone has an off-night, there are 11 other guys ready to put the puck in the net.”
Teams have had a difficult time this year defending the Steel, ranked fourth in goals scored, because of how dynamic each line has been. Bergh sets the tone for the first line and power play, playing in the areas he loves to work the puck in to find space for his teammates.
“Mason is an extremely heady player whose motor is always running. He fits into our style because he plays up and down the ice with a lot of speed,” McConnell noted. “We like to play an up-tempo game and he fits that perfectly with his energy, speed, and smarts on the ice.”
Bergh pointed out specifically what style of play he and Olofsson bring on a line together.
“Freddy and I both like to work hard in the corners. One of us will be down there and will be able to find the other guy,” Bergh said. “I got to play with him last year. We are both unselfish players, so it’s really easy to play with him.”
The USHL has given Bergh time to evolve into the player he is today. After high school, he was seeking the next challenge to grow before college. The League has given Bergh an opportunity to blossom both on and off the ice.
“The USHL from high school is a major step up. The kids are faster and stronger, you have to make plays quicker,” Bergh said. “It’s a lot harder to score and much harder to defend. We like to teach that to the younger guys that it’s a process. I wasn’t used to the pace at first, and now I love playing that type of game.”
“Last year during the second half of the year, he adjusted to the USHL and the style of play,” McConnell said in agreement. “He’s stronger, faster, and more mature. He is extremely confident in his ability to play the game.”
Bergh committed to Colorado College and will join the team next season with current Steel teammate Charlie Raith. The two plan on helping one another adjust to the college life while being away from home. Bergh admits that he isn’t too worried about being the furthest away from home he will ever be while in Colorado.
“Hockey players are determined people. They’re hungry no matter what, whether it’s in the classroom or on the ice,” Bergh said. “The hockey community is made up of nothing but determined people.”
Going into the season, Bergh understood that this would be his final year playing in the USHL. He set out individual goals to play a more offensive game and to elevate his play. However, the most important goal can’t be accomplished alone.
“We check our egos and our cell phones at the door. We literally don’t have access to the outside distractions,” Bergh said. “It really helps us as a group. Individual awards or accomplishments don’t matter when we are together. That’s how we stay focused on what’s important, making playoffs and winning the Clark Cup.”
USHL stats – Mason Bergh
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 13th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2014-15. A record 35 players were chosen in the 2014 NHL Draft and more than 300 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.