Photo by Hickling Images
Team: Sioux City Musketeers
Head Coach: Luke Strand, 1st season
"We look forward to our new players to make a step with the leadership of the returning players that had a great season a year ago leading the way. The youth of our team is going to have to grow in our environment to make us chase our ultimate goal. The development process and the competition of the league and the West will be strong and we are going to do our part to work and compete."
2016-17 Record: 40-13-5-2 (87 PTS, 1st in Western Conference)
Top Returners: Solag Bakich, Brady Ferner, Cole Koepke, Keegan Mantaro, Micah Miller, Sampo Ranta
Notable Additions: Mathieu De St. Phalle, Martin Pospisil, Randy Hernandez, Sammy Walker
Fresh off their Anderson Cup championship and appearance in the 2017 Clark Cup Final, the Sioux City Musketeers are once again aiming to remain at the top of the Western Conference standings and make another deep playoff run in 2017-18.
New head coach Luke Strand, who previously coached the Musketeers from 2009-11, inherits a roster with several players from the team that advanced to last season’s Clark Cup Final, including Brady Ferner, Micah Miller and Sampo Ranta. Ferner played in 51 games last season, scoring 10 PTS (2G, 8A) in those contests, in addition to 13 Clark Cup Playoffs games. Miller split last season with the Musketeers and Grand Rapids High, leading the Thunderhawks to a Class 2A Minnesota high school state championship before rejoining Sioux City. In addition to the 13 points (4G, 9A) the St. Cloud commit scored in the 23 regular season USHL games he played last season, he was also a dynamic force in the Clark Cup Playoffs, with five point (1G, 4A) in 13 games. Ranta, a Finnish forward considered a top 2018 NHL Draft prospect, tallied nine points (6G, 3A) in 30 games last season and will look to increase his offensive production in the absence of countrymen Eeli Tolvanen, who is now playing in the KHL.
Randy Hernandez is one of the many new faces in Sioux City this season. The Miami native spent the last two seasons with Team USA and will be looked to provide veteran leadership for the Musketeers. Another big new name coming to Tyson Events Center this year is Sammy Walker, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Minnesota commit was acquired from the Lincoln Stars earlier this year and will be splitting the season between Sioux City and Edina (USHS), where he recorded 46 points (22G, 24A) in 25 games during the 2016-17 season.
The Musketeers will also be looking at how to replace 2017 USHL Player and Goaltender of the Year Matiss Kivlenieks, who signed a professional contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the offseason. Sioux City seems well-equipped to do so, as they bring in Matt Jurusik, who spent the last two seasons at the University of Wisconsin, one of which with Luke Strand as an assistant coach. The other goaltender in the mix for the Musketeers is Gabe Vinal, who was a member of the NAHL’s Northeast Generals in 2016-17.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five consecutive NHL Drafts, 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.