Photo by Hickling Images
Team: Chicago Steel
Head Coach: Mark Abalan, 1st season
"I'm looking forward to getting started with our group. We return a great core of guys who have won in the league and we will rely on their leadership throughout the season. Like most years we turn over much of our roster but I was impressed with our young guys during our August camp. We have a lot of work ahead and our staff is ready to get the process started."
2016-17 Record: 38-17-2-3 (81 PTS, 1st in Eastern Conference), Clark Cup Champions
Top Returners: Derek Daschke, Tyler Gratton, Graham Lillibridge, Jordan Seyfert, Baker Shore
Notable Additions: Jack Dugan, Robert Mastrosimone, Derek Schaedig
The 2017 Clark Cup Champions bring back several players from their championship squad and will look to be the first team since the Omaha Lancers in 1993 and 1994 to repeat as Clark Cup Champions. New head coach Mark Abalan takes over from Dan Muse, who became the first USHL coach to be promoted directly to an NHL bench when he was hired as an assistant coach by the Nashville Predators, and he will hope be able to rely on several key contributors to last season’s team including Yale commit and Geneva, IL native Graham Lillibridge, Baker Shore and Tyler Gratton, who scored the overtime winner in Game 5 of the 2017 Clark Cup Final.
The Steel have also reloaded with a number of high-profile talents set to play in Fox Valley Ice Arena this season. Chicago signed former Shattuck-St. Mary’s forward Robert Mastrosimone to a tender, and he will strive to be a big part of Chicago’s offensive attack. Joining him up front will be Jack Dugan, the second overall pick in the USHL Phase II Draft and a fifth round selection of the Vegas Golden Knights at the 2017 NHL Draft. The Providence College commit was a USHS All-USA Hockey Third Team selection in 2017, putting up 93 points (32G, 61A) in 47 games for Northwood School.
Replacing Minnesota Wild prospect Ales Stezka between the pipes might sound like a difficult task, but Chicago seems to have done pretty well in that department, as they drafted Derek Schaedig, who spent time with the Lincoln Stars last season as an international replacement. In four USHL games last season, Schaedig was a perfect 4-0-0-0 and finished with a 1.74 GAA and .942 SV%. The Steel are hoping that the Harvard commit can maintain a similar stat line over the course the 60-game regular season schedule.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 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.