2018-19 Finish: 18-34-6-3 (45 points), 8th Eastern Conference
NHL Draftees: Ryan O’Reilly (F) Detroit Red Wings (2018, Rd. 4, 98 overall)
Jake Schmaltz (F) Boston Bruins (2019, Rd. 7, 192 overall)
McKade Webster (F) Tampa Bay Lightning (2019, Rd. 7, 213 overall)
This preview is part of a series highlighting all 16 USHL teams ahead of the 2019-20 regular season.
If history is any indication, the Green Bay Gamblers will make their return to the Clark Cup Playoffs this season. Since the 2013-14 season, the Gamblers have made the playoffs every other season, and after missing the cut last season, they’re looking for a return trip to the postseason.
The Gamblers know a thing or four about postseason success and start the 2019-20 season with the goal of raising the franchise’s fifth Clark Cup Championship, and first since 2012 when the team won its second in three years.
To do so, the Gamblers will rely on a trio of forwards who have already heard their names called in the NHL Draft, including returners McKade Webster and Ryan O’Reilly, as well as newcomer Jake Schmaltz.
Webster, a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect (2019, Rd. 7, 213 overall), was limited to just six games last season due to injury. Webster appeared in 59 games his rookie campaign and notched 30 points (11-19-30) in the process.
“It will be great to have McKade back this season,” said Gamblers General Manager and Head Coach Pat Mikesch of the Denver University commit. “He brings an extremely competitive approach every day.”
O’Reilly, who was selected by the Detroit Red Wings two summers ago (2018, Rd. 4, 98 overall), returns to the Gamblers after finishing third on the team in points last season with 31 (14-17-31) in 57 games. The University of Denver commit joined the Gamblers in February after beginning the season with the Fargo Force. O’Reilly was named to the 2018 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game roster and earned a spot on the USHL All-Rookie Second Team after registering 34 points (21-13-34) in 45 games with the Madison Capitols in 2017-18.
“Ryan was a great addition last year,” said Mikesch. “He is a proven scorer in the USHL with an elite shot.”
Schmaltz, a Boston Bruins prospect (2019, Rd. 7, 192 overall), joins his home state Gamblers after playing his USHL rookie season with the Chicago Steel. With the Steel last season, the McFarland, Wis. native registered 18 points (5-13-18) in 60 games. Schmaltz continues a family tradition of playing for Green Bay, as both of his cousins also wore the Gamblers sweater and are now signed to NHL contracts. Jordan (defenseman, 2011-12) is now in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization while Nick (forward, 2011-14) plays for the Arizona Coyotes.
“Jake is a very smart player that will bring great experience from his playoff run with Chicago last year,” said Mikesch of the University of North Dakota commit.
Tucker returns after finishing the 2018-19 season as Green Bay’s leading scorer with 43 points (13-30-43) in 62 games. The Lake Superior State University forward’s 30 assists also led the team.
“Jesse is a complete player both offensively and defensively,” said Mikesch. “He gained a great deal of experience in his rookie campaign in the USHL.”
Giroday was hindered by injury but appeared in 38 games for the Gamblers last season, finishing first and third among Gamblers defensemen with eight goals and 14 points, respectively. The Toronto, Ontario native was named to the 2019 USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and also recorded a three-game point streak (2-1-3) in late November 2018.
Enright joins the USHL and the Gamblers after two seasons with the Kenai River Black Bears of the NAHL. The Farmington, Min. native registered 19 wins, a 2.56 goals against average and .921 save percentage last season and has played 87 games for the Black Bears in the last two seasons.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 18th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2019-20. The USHL had 55 players selected at the 2019 NHL Draft, 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.