The United States Hockey League announced the Forward, Defenseman and Goaltender of the Week for Week 1 of the 2017-18 season. Team USA forward Michael Gildon won Forward of the Week after an impressive USHL debut that included a hat trick, Sioux Falls Stampede defenseman AJ Villella won his first career weekly honor and Green Gay Gamblers goaltender Maksim Zhukov won his third career weekly award after being honored twice last season. The USHL is America’s only Tier 1 junior hockey league, and continues to lead the world in the advancement of Division I college hockey athletes.
Forward: Michael Gildon – Team USA
1 GP: 3 goals, 1 assist, +4 rating
The Team USA rookie forward had quite the USHL debut Saturday night, scoring a hat trick and adding an assist to his total. Gildon, the younger brother of former Team USA defenseman Max Gildon, led Team USA to a decisive 10-5 win over the defending Clark Cup champion Chicago Steel. The uncommitted forward led all players in the game with four points, and was a +4 rating on the night. The Plano, TX native skated with the Dallas Stars Elite program last season.
Defenseman: AJ Villella – Sioux Falls Stampede
2 GP: 1 goal, 2 assists, Even rating
Villella picked up points in both games over the weekend despite the Stampede splitting the games 1-1-0-0. Villella assisted on the first Sioux Falls goal of the year, a Khristian Acosta tally in the first period Friday. The blueliner would later add a goal of his own, putting the game out of reach for the Fargo Force as Sioux Falls went on to win 5-2. The Northeastern commit added another assist the following night on the power play, tying the game 2-2. However, the Waterloo Black Hawks would later go on to score twice and win 4-2. Villella is playing in his second USHL season after splitting last year between Cedar Rapids and Sioux Falls. He was a 2016 USHL Phase II Draft selection by the RoughRiders in the 13th round, 214th overall.
Goaltender: Maksim Zhukov – Green Bay Gamblers
2-0-0-0, 0.99 GAA, .956 sv%
The Vegas Golden Knights prospect backstopped the Gamblers to back-to-back wins on the weekend over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Dubuque Fighting Saints. Zhukov allowed just one goal in each contest, combining for 43 saves on 45 shots. Zhukov led the Gamblers penalty kill to a perfect eight for eight over the course of the weekend. The Kalingrad, RUS native faced a fellow Golden Knights prospect in Jiri Patera Friday night, in what would become a goaltender battle and 2-1 win for Green Bay. The following night Zhukov stood tall through overtime, helping the Gamblers to another 2-1 victory. Zhukov is in his second USHL season with Green Bay after he was selected in the third round of the USHL Phase II Draft, 40th overall. Zhukov was named to the USHL All-Rookie Second Team after leading all rookies with a 2.25 GAA. The Vegas Golden Knights selected Zhukov in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Draft, making him the first-ever goaltender selected by the NHL expansion team.
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.
Tag(s): Top Story