Speed, agility, intensity and courage, those words emulate the USHL player. The United States Hockey League is by far the premier Junior Hockey League and the players prove it every season. Only the top players are selected to participate in the All Star/Prospects game. Not everyone obviously gets a chance to be part of this major event, so the ones that do certainly take advantage of it. This year’s game will take place in Cedar Rapids, home of the RoughRiders. The Cedar Rapids Ice Arena welcomes the opportunity to let their city see the endless talent these players possess. Team USA consists of some of the best talent in the league in the eyes of the coaches. Team World is comprised of the best-imported talent as well as potential NHL draftees. Year in and year out some of the league’s top stars are drafted into the NHL and many more get their wish of a college scholarship and move on to the next level to continue to hone their skills with the dreams of making it to the big show one day. Below is a list of the players who made the rosters of Team USA and Team World.
Jure Penko Goaltender – Jure has been one of the top goaltenders in the league since his arrival a couple of seasons ago for the Green Bay Gamblers. His tall frame intimidates his opponents and his quick reflexes make him the goaltender he is. So far on the season Jure has compiled an 18-5-7 record with a 2.37 GAA and a .912 saves percentage.
Keith Ballard Defenseman– Keith plays for the Omaha Lancers and is having an exceptional season. After playing for the US Nationals Under 18 squad Keith has brought his talents to the Lancers and they are thankful for it!! Keith is a fantastic passer and plays his position well. On the season Keith has 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points. On top of that, his aggressive play has made him one of the league leaders in penalty minutes with 135.
Lubos Velebny Defenseman – Lubos comes to the Waterloo Black Hawks by way of Slovakia and has been a major enforcer. Lubos can check as hard as they come and has a cannon blast for a shot. Lubos defends him teammates well and patrols the bluelines with the best of them. To date, Velebny has 7 goals and 15 assists for 22 points and leads Waterloo in penalty minutes with 104.
Art Femenella Defenseman – The Sioux City Musketeers are proud to have Art on their squad. Femenella, who stands 6’7” and weighs 237lbs, is by far the biggest defensive obstacle in the league. There is nothing flashy to his game, but he does his job. So far his claim to fame this season has not been his scoring as he only has 1 goal on the year, but leads the USHL in penalty minutes with 160. Art is no small cookie and just having him on the ice is protection enough for his teammates.
Andrew Alberts Defenseman – Andrew plays for the Waterloo Black Hawks. Alberts is co-captain of the team and is a vigorous checker and leader. Alberts has only 1 goal and 1 assist on the season, but scoring is not his game. Andrew enjoys being in the trenches in front of the net or on the boards and using his big, physical body to his advantage. It certainly works for him.
Jamie Mattie Defenseman – Sioux Falls is where Jamie calls home and he has made a living for the Stampede, being one of the most offensive defensemen around. On the season Mattie has 9 goals and 38 assists. Another bright aspect of his game is he does not spend much time in the penalty box as he has only accumulated 18 penalty minutes.
Joe Campbell Defenseman – Joe plays for the Des Moines Buccaneers and is another one of the huge defenders in the league. Campbell is very rough on his opponents and he can skate up and down the ice all night long. Campbell has tallied 4 goals and 6 assists for 10 points with 41 penalty minutes.
Tim Conboy Defenseman – Tim is property of the Rochester Mustangs. Conboy is one of the “bad boys” of the league. When he is on the ice, his presence is felt. Conboy is just behind Art Femenella in the penalty category as he has scattered 153 minutes through 34 games. Conboy is a bull and when he goes after something, he usually gets it. Conboy does not have a scoring touch, but has 3 goals and 3 assists on the year for 6 points.
Andy Contois Forward – Andy is just another in a line of great forwards to come from the Green Bay Gamblers. He likes to bang around in front of the nets and by the boards with the best of them. His hard work pays off as he has 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points on the year.
Riley Riddell Forward – Riley plays for the Omaha Lancers and although he is only 5’9” he has been a scoring power. In 36 games Riddell has lit the lamp 19 times to go with 18 assists for a total of 37 points. He is a pest in front of the net, which is a bonus for his teammates; he goes over, around or underneath his opponents, whatever it takes to score a goal!!
P.J. Atherton Defenseman – P.J. comes by way of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. He certainly has bolstered his team’s defensive corps. P.J. has 3 goals and 4 assists on the year for 7 points to go with 65 penalty minutes. One of his greater aspects is his leadership on the ice and the fact he works excellent under the teamwork mindset.
Brandon Bochenski Forward – Brandon is from the Lincoln Stars. The Stars have had a history of having explosive forwards and he is yet another, it seems like the Stars just continue to reload each year. Brandon is the Stars top scorer with 34 goals and 14 assists for 48 points. He is currently tied for the league lead in scoring.
Yan Stastny Forward – Stastny is another Omaha Lancer, and although he isn’t one of the leaders in scoring with 8 goals and 11 assists, he is a big playmaker for the team. He’s also logged 68 penalty minutes in 27 games. Yan is a leader for Omaha and he comes to play every night.
David Klema Forward - David plays for the Des Moines Buccaneers and has been a passing wizard. Klema is lightning quick and it makes it hard for his opponents to get their mitts on him long enough to take the puck away from him. David has 7 goals to go along with 24 assists on the year for 31 points.
James Massen Forward – Massen is a member of the Sioux Falls Stampede. They have several players in the leader categories on the offensive end, but Massen is the Stampede’s leader and 2nd in the league in scoring. So far Massen has accumulated 25 goals and 21 assists.
Thomas Vanek Forward – Vanek is teammates with Massen in Sioux Falls and is equally as dangerous for the Stampede. Vanek was out early in the season due to injury but in limited time on the ice he has managed to wreak havoc for his opponents. In only 20 games Vanek has scored 19 goals and 10 assists. Vanek turned 17 on January 19th, so not only is he one of the league’s elite, he is also one of the youngest as well.
John Snowden Forward – John is a burly forward for the Lincoln Stars. He is as physical as they get as far as forwards go and his hard work brings him rewards. On the season John has 17 goals and 22 assists and is another of the Lincoln Stars who are at the top of the league in scoring.
Preston Callendar Forward – Preston is partners in crime with Snowden and the aforementioned Brandon Bochenski. Callendar in years past has been known as a bruiser, but this season he has toned down his play and focused more on winning and helping his team rather than the ugly stuff. Callendar has only been assessed 44 penalty minutes while gathering 22 goals and 20 assists.
Beau Fritz Goaltender – Beau is the pride of Lincoln. He had a tough task of replacing superstar goalie Wayne Russell but Fritz has stepped out from Russell’s shadow and created a daunting task for the next goalie in line, replacing him!! Fritz play for the Stars has been nothing short of phenomenal. In 16 games he is 13-1-2 with a sparkling 2.04 GAA and .927 saves percentage. At this point, he is the 2nd highest rated goalie in the league.
Mike Mantua Goaltender – Mike Mantua plays for the Des Moines Buccaneers and is by far one of the most exciting goalies in the league to watch. Mantua’s aggressive style of play is his trademark. Mike has put the Buccaneers on his back this season and they have ridden his success. For the year Mike is 14-10 with a 3.81 GAA and .890 saves percentage.
Matt Jones Defenseman – Matt patrols the blueline for the Green Bay Gamblers. With his solid frame he likes to throw his weight around at all possible, usually he is successful. He is not a scoring specialist with 2 goals and 4 assists but he does not spend much time in the penalty box either with 34 minutes which allows him to be a thorn in the oppositions side at all times.
Andy Schneider Defenseman – Andy is yet another top performer from the Lincoln Stars. He is one of the best in the business and he enjoys what he does. Schneider is not afraid to mix it up with anyone and he can score if need be as well. So far he has accumulated 5 goals and 19 assists for 24 points.
Bryce Lampman Defenseman – Bryce is a member of the Omaha Lancers and is the leader of their pack. On the season he has 7 goals and 6 assists but his main concern is patrolling the defensive zone. Bryce is quick and he uses his speed to his advantage, he can shut the opponent down whenever he needs to.
Jason Krischuk Defenseman – Jason is one of three defenseman selected from the Omaha Lancers. Jason plays bigger than his size would indicate at first glance. With 6 goals and 17 assists he can also play on the offensive end and be a threat.
Tim Judy Defenseman - The Sioux City Musketeers are whom Tim plays for and does an excellent job. Tim is a very physical defenseman and he likes the play rough and tumble. For the year he has 4 goals and 15 assists to go along with 74 penalty minutes. Tim is the perfect brand of player for the Musketeers style of hockey. Sioux City has always been a big, physical team and he falls right into that category.
Eric Werner Defenseman - Eric plays for the Sioux Falls Stampede. Like many players for Sioux Falls this season, Eric is enjoying a fantastic 2000-2001 campaign. Eric is not the prolific type scorer as many of his other teammates are but he is a solid defenseman. One of the more fundamentally sound in the league. Although, he does have 3 goals and 25 assists, he can hurt you in more ways than one.
Greg Zemple Defenseman - Greg is the lone representative of the Tri-City Storm and he is a big one at that. Standing 6’2” and weighing 195 lbs, Greg is brutal on his opponents. He is without a doubt one of the more intimidating figures in the league. Greg has scored 3 goals and 10 assists to date and has 63 penalty minutes.
Chris Fournier Forward – Chris is one of the smaller players in the league but at the same time one of the peskiest players around. Playing for the Lincoln Stars he is in his 3rd year and has been a huge producer each year. Chris is once again towards the top of the leaders board in scoring with 13 goals and 32 assists for 45 points. He certainly has proven to be one of the more reliable scorers in the league whether he does it by himself or sets up one of his teammates.
Ryan Connelly Forward - Ryan brings his talent from the Waterloo Black Hawks. Ryan is one of this years top rookies and he was rewarded for his hard work by earning his way into the All Star game. Ryan is also a smaller forward but his drive certainly makes up for whatever his size may be lacking. Ryan is tied for the lead for Waterloo in scoring with 15 goals and 12 assists for 27 points.
Mike Doyle Forward – Mike is a very tall forward who plays for the Sioux Falls Stampede. At 6’2” he is able to rough it up a little bit more than the average forward. On the year Mike has tallied 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points and is yet another Stampede player who is at the top of the scoring category in the league, which only reinforces how lethal their offense, is.
Scott Polaski Forward - Scott is another representative from the Sioux City Musketeers and is their top scorer with 13 goals and 21 assists. Scott is a rugged kid who can make plays on his own or put his linemates in position to score. He is a key asset to the Musketeers offense this season.
Ryan Bennett Forward – Ryan hails from the Des Moines Buccaneers and is quite a powerful offensive forward. Ryan doesn’t shy away from getting down and dirty, whatever he needs to do to win, he does it. He is 2nd on the team in scoring with 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points and his 97 penalty minutes attests to the fact he is a physical forward who is out to do whatever necessary for his team.
David Moss Forward - David comes to us by way of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. David has not played for the full season for Cedar Rapids but in 27 games he has amassed 11 goals and 10 assists and proves to be one of the more potent offensive figures on this physical team.
Doug Meyer Forward – Doug is the leading scorer for the Des Moines Buccaneers. In his first season in Des Moines he has taken to the USHL brand of play very well. Doug has a big physical frame and is able to push through the opponent’s defensive charge. On the year Doug has scored 20 goals to go along with 15 assists for 35 points.
Corey McLean Forward - Corey plays for the Chicago Steel and in their inaugural season he has been their offensive juggernaut. Corey is the lone representative from Chicago but he has certainly earned the trip. He leads his team in scoring with 17 goals and 21 assists to go with only 17 penalty minutes.
J.B. Bittner Forward - J.B. is one of what seems to be countless offensive stars for Sioux Falls. On the year he has 13 goals and 18 assists and works well with him teammates, many of which have now played together for two seasons. His speed makes him a major asset to his team’s offensive push.
Jon Foster Forward – Jon represents the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Although Dubuque has had a down year this season, he has been a beacon of light scoring 14 goals and 9 assists for 23 points. As a USHL rookie he has shown the drive and determination that will take him far in the hockey world.
Bobby Goepfert Goaltender - Bobby is from the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and has been a special player for his team. Bobby is one of the youngest players in the league, yet has stepped in between the pipes and played rock solid all season long. Currently he is 14-10 with a 3.32 GAA and .908 saves percentage. His lightning quick reflexes and amazing glove keep the Cedar Rapids faithful on the edge of their seats anytime there is action in front of Bobby’s net.
2000-2001 USHL All Stars/Prospects Game Recap
1st period: Mike Mantua started in net for Team USA and was opposed by Beau Fritz of Team World. Team USA got the offense going early as Jonathan Foster scored only 41 seconds into the contest. Bryce Lampman and Ryan Bennett each got assists. Both teams moved the puck up and down the ice and they each shared a breakaway. Mantua made a spectacular play on his breakaway, which led to Team USA going the other way. This time Bennett would score the goal himself at the 15:46 mark with the feed from Greg Zemple. The period was dominated by Team USA only in the scoring category as each side displayed some phenomenal passing and if it weren’t for the efforts of Mantua, Team World would have been on the board as well. Marco Peluso and Corey McClain would score on a 2 on 0 breakaway with only 4:19 remaining in the period. Peluso took a nice feed from McClain and he would slap the puck into the back of the net past Fritz. Beau didn’t have much of a chance on that one. Both teams would continue to make some beautiful exchanges and the period would end with Team USA up 3-0. Mantua stopped all 12 shots he faced and Fritz stopped 7 of the 10 he saw.
2nd period: Fritz and Mantua would start the 2nd period in net for their respective teams and nobody would score in the 1st ten minutes. Team USA continued to hammer away at the net but Fritz had closed the doors on them. At the 10:09 mark each team switched goaltenders and coming into the net for Team USA was Bobby Goepfert and Jure Penko went between the pipes for Team World. Mantua’s night ended stopping all 12 shots he faced and his counterpart; Beau Fritz stopped 13 of 16. Chris Fournier would ruin Penko’s entry into the game as he scored on the first shot Jure would see with 9:28 remaining in the period. Scott Polaski received the assist. Penko would get loosened up though and would begin to show the fans in attendance why he was chosen to play. Team World would score early on Goepfert as well when Brian Bochenski slapped one past him with the assistance of two of his teammates, Preston Callendar and John Snowden. That was it for scoring in the period, as the goaltending was steller. Goepfert would make a scintillating glove save to stop a 3 on 1 and received an ovation from the Cedar Rapids faithful. The period would end with Team USA still in the lead at 4-1. Goepfert stopped 6 of 7 shots and Penko 2 of 3.
3rd period: In the final period Jure Penko put on a clinic. Breathtaking saves came one after another as he put a halt to Team USA’s offensive charge. The back and forth action was a sight to see and since there we no penalties each team was putting on quite a show. Team World would score its 2nd goal of the night compliments of Preston Callender. Andrew Alberts and Keith Ballard would get assists on the play. Callendar was the lucky recipient of a rebound on shots from both Alberts and Ballard. That ended the scoring on the night for Team World as Goepfert began to match Penko’s play. Without a doubt though, Penko’s play was amazing. At one point he lost his stick yet still managed to wrestle the puck away from two attackers and covered it with his glove. On yet another play Penko make a beautiful save while on his side that drew ooh’s and aah’s from the fans. Team USA would put the finishing touches on a spectacular night of hockey with an empty net goal from Marco Peluso, his 2nd of the night. Both Peluso and Jonathan Foster skated towards the empty net together and Foster fed Peluso with a one-timer pass that he would not miss the net on. The game would end with Team USA winning 5-2. Final shots on goal for the night were in favor of Team USA with 32 and Team World 30. For the period Goepfert stopped 10 of 11 shots and Penko 12 of 13. The game ended much to the disappointment of the fans, but a standing ovation was given to all the players after the final horn sounded.