Photo By Dan Hickling/Hickling Images
Team: Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
2015-16 Record: 40-15-5 (Anderson Cup Champions)
Top Forward: Ross Colton (35 goals, 66 points)
Top Defenseman: Jack Ahcan (14 goals, 44 points)
Top Goaltender: Ben Blacker (33-13-4, 2.24 GAA, .926 SV%)
Power Play: 20.2% (4th in USHL)
Penalty Kill: 87.0% (1st in USHL)
It was another successful season for one of the premier franchises in the USHL, as the RoughRiders captured the Anderson Cup, finishing with 85 points a record of 40-15-5, 12 points better than any team in the Western Conference.
Cedar Rapids will be losing a lot of their scoring from last season, as the top six scorers on the team have moved on, including Ross Colton (University of Vermont), Jack Ahcan (St. Cloud State University) and Matt Filipe (Northeastern University). They are hoping to reload the offensive firepower with the addition of tender T.J. Walsh, who is currently one of the top players for Team USA at the U17 Five Nations Tournament, and his Cushing Academy linemate Marc McLaughlin.
It should be noted, this is the type of development that USHL general managers love to see. Despite losing some of their top talent, players like Colton and Filipe were selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes respectively. And watch out for 2016 USHL Defenseman of the Year Ahcan, as he continues to impress scouts at the higher levels with his play at the National Junior Evaluation Camp and hopefully his freshman year with the Huskies.
The Riders will also have to replace veteran goaltender Ben Blacker, who was second in the league with both a 2.24 GAA and .926 SV%. This club has shown time and time again that they are able to overcome players graduating to college hockey and beyond.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 14th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2015-16. A record 37 players were chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft and more than 375 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.