Chicago, Ill. - The United States Hockey League’s (USHL) 16 Member Clubs open training camps this week as the 2021-22 season officially gets underway.
“The opening of training camp is an exciting time for the USHL and all of our Member Clubs as it means we are officially in the 2021-22 season,” said USHL President and Commissioner Bill Robertson. “After the offseason, we’re looking forward to seeing our outstanding athletes back on the ice in all of our markets and welcoming back the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Madison Capitols to on-ice action this season.”
After a storm caused building damage to the RoughRiders’ building prior to the 2020-21 season and COVID restrictions did not allow for the Capitols to take the ice last season, both teams will return to the ice for the 2021-22 season. The RoughRiders, led by the longest-tenured active coach in the USHL - Mark Carlson, look to return to the Clark Cup Playoffs for a second-straight season after an appearance in the 2018-19 season as the 2019-20 season did not feature Playoffs due to COVID-19. Madison will be led by its new Head Coach and General Manager Tom Upton, who was hired ahead of last season but has not been able to lead the team behind the bench yet. Upton is hoping to lead the Capitols to its first appearance in the Clark Cup Playoffs.
Both teams had their players on Protected Lists play for teams throughout last season after a preseason Dispersal Draft. Cedar Rapids will have players returning such as forwards Yusaku Ando and Nate Hanley who have appeared in a combined 194 USHL games over the past three seasons. Madison also brings back goaltender Simon Latkoczy, who is coming off a Clark Cup Championship performance with the Chicago Steel last season after posting a combined 19-3-0-2 record all last season with the Steel including a 1.83 goals against average and 0.938 save percentage during the Playoffs.
The defending Clark Cup Champion Chicago Steel return to the ice with half its current 30-man roster, announced Monday, having appeared in a game last season on the way to the Club’s second Clark Cup Championship. Included in the names set to appear at camp is Clark Cup Final MVP Adam Fantilli and fellow forward Jackson Blake, who scored the Clark Cup-clinching goal.
Head Coach Brock Sheahan is back with the Steel with a career 0.808 point percentage over the past two seasons with the Steel as the bench boss.
When training camp opens, it will be the first time behind the bench for six USHL Head Coaches who were hired this offseason, as well as Upton’s first opportunity to lead the Capitols. Among this offseason’s coaching hires is Greg Brown (Dubuque Fighting Saints), Chadd Cassidy (Omaha Lancers), Matt Curley (Des Moines Buccaneers), Scott Langer (Fargo Force), Rocky Russo (Lincoln Stars) and Matt Smaby (Waterloo Black Hawks).
These coaches will be looking to climb the all-time wins list with fellow current USHL coaches scattered throughout the all-time standings. Carlson is currently second in USHL wins with 657 career victories, followed by Anthony Noreen (267 wins), Pat Mikesch (192 wins), Luke Strand (188 wins), Brad Patterson (144 wins), Mike Hamilton (102 wins), Dan Muse (86 wins), Sheahan (71 wins), Marty Murray (18 wins) and Adam Nightingale (10 wins).
Carlson (2004-05, Cedar Rapids), Sheahan (2020-21, Chicago) and Muse (2016-17, Chicago) are the only three active coaches with a Clark Cup Championship.
Last month, the Green Bay Gamblers made USHL history when they announced Amy Brolsma as their Skating and Skills Development Coach, marking the first time in league history that a woman will serve as an on-ice coach in the USHL.
Brolsma joins the Gamblers and USHL with 27 years of coaching experience in the game of hockey including working with USHL, NCAA and NHL players.
The 2020-21 USHL season will be the 20th for the USHL as a Tier I junior hockey league. In that time, the USHL has seen 701 players selected in the NHL Draft, including 50-or-more players in each of the past four NHL Drafts. In the past 19 seasons, the league averaged nearly 40 selections per Draft.
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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