The season has started and the early season marks are already starting to come in. There are a few surprises and a few things that, well, aren’t such surprises. In the Eastern Division the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are in 1st place by percentage points. Going off of total points, they are tied for first with the Des Moines Buccaneers and the Rochester Mustangs. The Mustangs are the biggest surprise of the season to date. Last season the Mustangs mustered only 11 victories and they are off to a 6-4 start. In the Western Division the Sioux Falls Stampede lead the way with a 9-2 record for 18 points but the Sioux City Musketeers are right on their heels with a 8-2 record for 16 points.
Superstar Thomas Vanek of the Sioux Falls Stampede is currently leading the league in scoring with 13 goals and 12 assists for 25 points. Vanek has already registered two hat tricks, against Tulsa and Sioux City. Not far behind are three Sioux City Musketeers, Brad Zancanaro (7-16-23), Brandon Schwartz (8-13-21) and Matt Ciancio (7-10-17).
Just as it was last season Art Femenella of the Sioux City Musketeers and Tim Conboy are fighting for the penalty minutes lead. In 9 games Femenella already has 52.
As always, this league is full of fantastic goaltenders and this year is no different. So far, the top goaltender in the league statistically wise is Kris Mayotte of Sioux City. In 5 games he is 5-0 with a 1.40 GAA and .942 saves percentage. Bobby Goepfert, considered by most, including myself, the top minder in the league, is currently 6-2 with a 2.32 GAA and a .934 saves percentage. Goepfert has already scored two shutouts on the season, tied for the league lead in the category. Perhaps the most shocking netminder to date is Josh Siembida of the Waterloo Black Hawks who is 1-6 on the season but is 5th rated goalie in the league. He has an astonishing 2.27 GAA and a .924 saves percentage.
The two biggest surprises in the league so far is once again, the Rochester Mustangs early season 6-4 start. Rochester has ridden solid goaltending from Yen-I Chen and Jon Fallon. The Mustangs haven’t outscored anybody, but they’re goaltending has kept them in the games and their big forwards have just kept skating hard. The other surprise so far is the Lincoln Stars. They are off to a 4-4-1 start, a disappointing one for Lincoln fans. But it’s early on and there is a lot of season left. Lincoln still in my opinion will be where they need to be at the end of the year. Lincoln has nobody in the league leaders in scoring so far, a big surprise and a big reason why they are where they are at right now. They aren’t scoring.
The biggest disappointment so far is the Waterloo Black Hawks. Waterloo is 2-6 so far on the year while at one point being shut out four consecutive games. The Black Hawks have only scored a total of 10 goals on the year, by far the lowest total in the league. The aforementioned Siembida has been their lifesaver. If the offense can wake up out of hibernation, Waterloo might still win a handful of games.
There are plenty of games left and some things will change between now and the end of the year. The Topeka Scarecrows have started off respectfully at 4-4-2 led by a group of future stars while the other expansion team, the Tulsa Crude have struggled as expected. They are off to a 1-9-1 start.
Keep on the lookout for more updates on this fantastic season of hockey in the USHL.