As a review of the 2021-22 USHL season, Member Clubs provided the USHL with recaps of their seasons both on and off the ice.
“The United States Hockey League has a banner year on and off the ice in 2021-2022,” said USHL President and Commissioner Bill Robertson. “We are proud that our great league was able to play a full season of games culminating with a competitive Clark Cup Playoffs and Championship, but as important the commitment by the owners and our 16 teams to give back into the community on so many levels. We have such great community and human interest stories to tell and appreciate the entire league working together to make that happen. We are very proud of these efforts.”
The RoughRiders returned to the ice this season and raised nearly $75,000 for the community and honored 130 community members throughout the season. In their return to the ice, the fans flooded back to Cedar Rapids with the RoughRiders welcoming nearly 75,000 fans throughout the season.
The Steel embraced their roots in January, becoming the Chicago Ice Sharks for a game with special jerseys replicating the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks (1996-2000). The specialty jerseys were auctioned off after the game. Later in the season, the Steel wore specially designed helmets with artwork from Waubonsee Community College art students. The helmets were then signed by players and auctioned off to benefit the Waubonsee Foundation to provide scholarships for players. The Steel and Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey reignited their relationship last season during a game in November. During Military Appreciation Night in March the Chicago Blackhawks Warriors and Central Illinois Warriors played a charity game before combining with the Steel to hold a large American flag during the National Anthem.
The Buccaneers aimed to be a bigger part of the community last season, raising money for such entities as Can Do Cancer and the Des Moines Youth Hockey Association. Players read to students at Timber Ridge Elementary School as part of the Stick with Reading program. Members of the team also worked with Meals from the Heartland and were part of packing meals for those in need across the state of Iowa. Players also assisted FreeStore, a volunteer furniture bank that helps families in need, in loading and moving items from homes to the warehouse. Sleep in Heavenly Peace, a nonprofit that builds and delivers bunkbeds and matresses to kids, put players to work assembling beds for kids throughout Des Moines. The Buccaneers also announced a new, multi-purpose, state-of-the-art facility set to open in the fall of 2023 that will house three ice sheets, a commons area, fitness area, Esports facility and hotel. The new Buccaneer Arena will hold 3,500 fans for Bucs games and up to 4,500 for concerts and other events. Club levels and LED boards will add to the fan experience and new locker rooms, training facilities and skill development areas will be available to the Buccaneers and fellow USHL Clubs.
The Fighting Saints celebrated Saint4Life month during the month of March by unveiling a retro alternate jersey that hearkens back to the glory days of the 1980s. The Saints welcomed home more than 30 alumni to the Mystique Community Ice Center in the first annual reunion weekend. Forward Stephen Halliday set the USHL Tier I scoring record, Fighting Saints scoring record and earned a spot on the All-USHL First Team. Dubuque set a new record in overall corporate sponsorship business, raised its league-leading number of All-Academic Team members to 12 and became the first Club to have a mascot sponsored by Simmons Pet Food. The Fighting Saints returned to the Clark Cup Playoffs for the 11th-straight season, extending its streak to all Clark Cup Playoffs availabilities since rejoining the USHL in 2010. The 2021-22 Club saw the second 40-win season in Club history, marking the second-most regular season wins (41).
Last season’s “Hometown Heroes Night” hit the highest total in Club history, with $63,701.06 raised through a jersey auction. The total was distributed across a variety of local emergency service organizations and the donated money helped procur items such as AEDs, AED replacement pads, gas monitor/detectors, chest compression systems, rescue boat and life jackets, thermal imaging cameras, water and ice rescue equipment, helmet flashlights, portable scene lights, forcible entry tools, firefighting nozzles, and boots, helmets, hoods, jackets and pants for firefighters.
The Gamblers finished the season third in attendance in the USHL with an average 2,665 fans attending games in Green Bay last season. On the ice, Cameron Lund and Kent Anderson were named to the USHL All-Rookie Second Team, 21 of the 25 Gamblers on the season’s final roster received NCAA Division I scholarships and Lund and Ryan Greene were named to NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft. The Gamblers continued to contribute to the community, sending monetary donations to a number of services as well as collecting supplies to donate to different organizations. A pair of former General Manager and Head Coach Jon Cooper and Derek Lalonde have led the Tampa Bay Lightning to their third-straight Stanley Cup Final and former Gamblers Assistant Coach, and current University of Denver Head Coach, David Carle led the Pioneers to the NCAA Championship.
The Stars raised more than $116,000 through jersey auctions last season, benefitting the Nebraska Warriors, Lincoln Ice Hockey Association, Nebraska Epilepsy Foundation and more. The team hosted Undie Sunday in April and Stars fans threw nearly 2,000 pieces of underwear on the ice after Lincoln’s first goal with all items donated to Lincoln kids in need through Foster’s Closet. Last season also saw the Stars welcome multiple University of Nebraska athletic community members to games. On the ice, Lincoln made the Playoffs for the first time since the 2017-18 season and Captain Dalton Norris (19 powerplay goals), as well as Aidan Thompson (58 assists), broke respective Club records.
On-the-ice, the 2021-22 season was one of many firsts for the Capitols as the Club clinched its first trip to the Clark Cup Playoffs since returning to the USHL, culminating in the Club’s first Eastern Conference Championship and appearance in the Clark Cup Final. Last season also saw the most active NCAA commitments on the active roster in Club history and University of Minnesota commit Luke Mittelstadt became the first player in Club history to be named to the All-USHL First Team. goaltender Simon Latkoczy became the Club leader for wins and was the first netminder in USHL Tier I history to backstop different teams to the Clark Cup Final in back-to-back seasons. Additionally, Reid Pabich became the USHL’s all-time leader in career games played. Off-the-ice, the Capitols raised nearly $50,000 for local non-profit organizations. Last season was also the most sellouts in a single season (8) at Bob Suter’s Capitols Ice Arena, including Games Three and Four of the Clark Cup Final. The Capitols social media presence also saw an uptick of more than 2,200 new followers between the team’s Instagram and Twitter pages.
Muskegon set new Club records with an eight-game winning streak, a 10-game home winning streak and 13-game point streak. The Lumberjacks appeared in the Eastern Conference Final for the third-straight possible season after sweeping their first two opponents of the Clark Cup Playoffs. Quinn Hutson, Jack Williams and Jacob Guevin became the seventh, eighth, and ninth players, respectively, in Club history to surpass 100 career points. Additionally, Guevin became the 10th defenseman in USHL Tier I history to surpass 100 career points. Last season marked the first Flannel Fest during home-opening weekend and the Lumberjacks hosted more than 30 theme nights throughout the season. Muskegon retired the jersey of local hockey legend Todd Robinson, who registered 834 points in seven UHL seasons with the Muskegon Fury. The 4th annual “Play with Purpose” charity game between the Lumberjacks and USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP) was hosted last season to raise awareness and end distracted driving. Over the course of the season, the Lumberjacks held numerous fundraisers and the Muskegon Lumberjacks Charitable Foundation sponsored the Reading Caravan. On January 22, the Lumberjacks unveiled the brand new Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame, honoring more than 65 years of Muskegon hockey and sports history.
Michael Cameron was honored with the Curt Hammer Award last season for his dedication to raising awareness for Type One Diabetes. Every game last season, the Lancers and Cameron hosted “Michael Cameron’s Diabetic Buddy of the Game” program. Goaltender Kevin Pasche registered a 55-save shutout, which was the most saves in a single game for any USHL goaltender last season and was the first goal to register 1,000 saves for the season.
The Musketeers lifted the Clark Cup this season during the Club’s 50th anniversary season, marking the fourth Clark Cup Championship in Club history (2022, 2002, 1986, 1982). Forward Ben Steeves scored 39 goals in the regular season, which was the most since two-time Stanley Cup Champion Ruslan Fedotenko potted 43 in 1999. Assistant Coach Mike Fanelli hoisted the Clark Cup in his first season with the Musketeers, marking three-straight seasons Fanelli has lifted a Championship after joining Sioux City from the Tampa Bay Lightning where he served in an analytics role as the Lightning won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 & 2021. The Musketeers were big contributors in the community last season, raising more than $150,000 for local charities, including $86,000 raised from their Military night jersey auction that sent more than 80 veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam War to fly to Washington to see their memorials. Former Sioux City goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks became the first Musketeers player to have his number retired after his death in 2021. Kivlenieks was a Columbus Blue Jackets netminder and earned USHL Player and Goaltender of the Year awards in 2017 as he backstopped the team to an Anderson Cup.
Stampede players volunteered nearly 500 hours in the community last season while fundraisers brought in nearly $100,000 for local charities. All players appeared at a minimum of five events this season. Players assisted with weekly youth practices in association with the Sioux Falls Flyers Youth Hockey Association and also appeared at local elementary schools to read to students and answer questions. The Stampede also spent time packing meals and sorting donations with Feeding South Dakota and also delivered nutritious afternoon meals to local seniors with Meals on Wheels. Throughout the season, the team also donated more than 250 toys to Toys for Tots and rang bells with The Salvation Army. The Stampede again led the league in attendance, averaging nearly 5,000 fans per game.
Through jersey auctions, the Storm were able to raise $100,000 for various local charities. On the ice, the season was full of shattered records. Tri-City was awarded the Anderson Cup as the league’s best regular season team, took home the USHL’s Player, Forward, Defenseman, Goaltender and Coach of the Year awards and had three players named to the All-USHL First Team. Records broken by members of the Storm included USHL single season goals and points by a defenseman and the team’s 98 points in the regular season tied the best point total by any team in USHL Tier I history. Storm players also set highs in single season points, goals, assists, goalie wins, shutouts, powerplay goals, powerplay assists and game winning goals and single game points by a defenseman. The team also set a new high for team wins and points, as well as the fewest losses in a season.
The Black Hawks celebrated their 60th season of hockey in Waterloo after the original Black Hawks were founded in 1962 and during an April 2nd home date, Waterloo welcomed home members of former teams. As part of the celebration, Waterloo partnered with local brewer SingleSpeed for a “Season Sixty” specialty pilsner and unveiled a new team logo prior to the season. Nearly $40,000 was raised through specialty jersey auctions and an “All In” video series gave fans an inside look at the organization. On the ice, Matt Smaby took the reigns from P.K. O’Handley, who finished his coaching career as the all-time winningest coach in USHL history. Neminders Jack Williams and Emmett Croteau were the only USHL tandem to finish the season both in the top-five for save percentage and top-ten for goals against average. Last season also saw the Black Hawks host the 50th Thanksgiving home game in the community’s history and Connor Brown became the first Waterloo player since 1992 to score four goals in a single Clark Cup Playoff game. Throughout the NHL season, 15 Waterloo alumni played at least one game and alumnus Joe Pavelski skated in his 1,100th NHL game and surpassed the 400-goal, 500-assist and 900-point milestones.
The Phantoms “Hockey for Health” initiative saw players visit several schools and assemblies in the area, reading to children, participating in gym classes and displaying the benefits of hockey. Youngstown’s School Day game featured more than 2,000 local kids in attendance and a fundraiser and postgame jersey auction raised money for a local family who lost their wife and mother. In a return season from the pandemic, 28,000 fans took in Phantoms action this season and were treated to an on-ice product that included Trey Taylor winning four Defenseman of the Week honors. The Phantoms’ first overall pick in the 2021 Phase I Draft, William Whitelaw, debuted for the team and Youngstown represented the USHL at the inaugural Wegamn’s USHL American Cup in December. Adam Ingram set a new Phantoms record with a point in 16-straight games last season and eight different Youngstown players surpassed the 100-game mark in their USHL careers.
The NTDP had five of the top-11 USHL scorers last season in points-per-game with top NHL Draft prospect Logan Cooley leading the way. Of the top-29 ranked North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft, the NTDP had 10 of the skaters and two of the top-four North American netminders. Last season, Isaac Howard finished his career with 161 points, which was eighth all-time for the NTDP and Lane Hutson’s 63 points as a defenseman was second-best in a single NTDP season.