Chicago, IL - The United States Hockey League (USHL) announced Wednesday the 2020-21 USHL Organization of the Year was awarded to all of its Member Clubs and the USHL as a whole after completing a whole season amid the COVID pandemic.
The 2020-21 season saw the USHL as a league complete 98 percent of its originally scheduled games despite COVID causing games to be rescheduled throughout the course of the season.
“All of our Member Clubs made sacrifices last season to come together to complete our common goal: give our players a top-tier option to develop their hockey career and life both on and off the ice,” said USHL President and Commissioner Bill Robertson. “We are proud to honor all our Member Clubs this season and commend them for their commitment to doing what is best for all our athletes moving forward in their career.”
Returning to the ice in a safe fashion was the top priority for the league and its Member Clubs and the league developed a Return to Play safety protocol as well as a league task force to monitor COVID procedures throughout the league. By following safety procedures, as well as the collaboration of Member Clubs to reschedule originally scheduled games, the USHL completed the majority of its scheduled games including six Clubs playing all 54 regular season contests.
“We congratulate all Member Clubs in the USHL,” said USA Hockey Executive Director Pat Kelleher. “To conduct a season during a pandemic was an enormous undertaking and we commend everyone involved.”
Following a highly successful regular season, the USHL and eight of its Member Clubs completed an uninterrupted Clark Cup Playoffs, which ended with the Chicago Steel being crowned Clark Cup Champions in a four-game series with the Fargo Force, who hosted more than 4,000 fans in a pair of Final games.
With other leagues in junior hockey not competing, the USHL welcomed an even higher influx of talent in the league for the 2020-21 season, including more than 30 players who were already selected in previous NHL Drafts. The stiff on-ice competition saw USHL Player of the Year Sean Farrell (Chicago Steel) become just the second player in USHL history to eclipse the 100-point mark in a single season, USHL Forward of the Year Matt Coronato (Chicago Steel) had 48 goals in 51 games, USHL Defenseman of the Year Mason Lohrei (Green Bay Gamblers) set a franchise record for points by a defender (59), USHL Goaltender of the Year Akira Schmid (Sioux City Musketeers) had a surreal 2.01 goals against average and 0.921 save percentage and USHL Rookie of the Year Cole Sillinger (Sioux Falls Stampede) produced 46 points in 31 games. All five player were either previously Drafted (Farrell - Montreal Canadiens, 2020, Round 4, #124; Lohrei - Boston Bruins, 2020, Round 2, #58; Schmid - New Jersey Devils, 2018, Round 5, #136) or selected in the First Round of the 2021 NHL Draft (Coronato - Calgary Flames, 2021, Round 1, #13; Sillinger - Columbus Blue Jackets, 2021, Round 1, #12).
Following the season, the USHL had yet another impressive showing at the 2021 NHL Draft, marking the fourth-straight Draft with 50-or-more USHL ties taken during the Draft. The USHL also saw its 900th all-time selection at the NHL Draft, bringing its all-time total to 935. The 2021 NHL Draft was the first time in USHL history that four of the Top-10 selections came from the USHL. Ten of the 50 USHL players selected in the 2021 NHL Draft also appeared in the 2021 Clark Cup Final between the Steel (7) and Force (3).
With the 2020-21 season completed, the USHL and its 16 Member Clubs turns its focus to the upcoming season that is set to begin with all Member Clubs descending on Cranberry Township, Pa. for the DICK’S Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic from September 23-27 that will see all Member Clubs kick off the Regular Season with a pair of games each. The 2021-22 season will also see USHL Clubs return to the Frosty Cup in Dallas, Tex. (January, 2022) as well as a new event, the USHL American Cup, held in Rochester, N.Y. from December 3-5.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the 2021-22 season will be the USHL's 20th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league. The USHL had 50 players selected at the 2021 NHL Draft, marking the fourth-straight season with 50-or-more USHL players selected in the Draft. More than 800 league alumni are currently on NCAA Division I rosters, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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