2000-2001 USHL Top Prospects – The Keys to the Offensive Engine

By Jason Shaner

2000-2001 USHL Top Prospects List

The Keys to the Offensive Engine

Offense is just one thing that wins hockey games. Solid D and great goaltending can steal games by themselves alone, however if you can’t score you aren’t going to win many games. The USHL, which is considered by many to be the top Junior Hockey League around, sends truckloads of young stars to the Collegiate ranks every year. Many of them continue their rise to stardom. Below is a list of 15 of the top offensive players in the USHL in my opinion and in no particular order. They are comprised of scorers, grinders, playmakers and all around superstars. Any one of these players has the chance of going on to the promised land of the NHL.

1.Chris Fournier – Lincoln Stars
We’ll start things off with the top scorer in the league this season. Chris Fournier is not big by any means, but he plays bigger than his opponents night in and night out. Fournier put up monster numbers this season scoring 26 goals and 57 assists for a league leading 83 points. Chris is a thorn in the opponents side at all times, as the hard work never stops. Fournier is a gutsy player who does not let size intimidate him, as he will skate around his opponent or fake him out of his breezers, whatever he needs to do to get him where he is going. Chris is property of the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota and they are excited to have him coming to town next season.

2.Doug Meyer – Des Moines Buccaneers
Doug Meyer is any goaltenders nightmare in front of the crease. Meyer is a tall, strong forward who thrives in front of the net and in the middle of a scrum. Of course, if you give him some open ice he will take it to the net and once he gets a head of steam going it takes more than a monumental effort to stop him. Meyer scored 29 goals and 27 assists on the season for 56 points to lead the Buccaneers in scoring this season. Meyer will suit up for St. Cloud State next season.

3.Mike Doyle – Sioux Falls Stampede
Mike is not a physical forward normally, his tall and slender frame allows him to outskate his opponents and his precision passing makes him deadly to defenses. When you play the Stampede, you could get run over by a Stampede of offensive players, literally and Doyle led them in points. Scoring 32 goals and 46 assists for 78 points was one of his many accomplishments this season. Another that stands out is that he is a true iron man as he played in all 56 regular season games this year. Doyle will also skate for St. Cloud State next season.

4.Ryan Connelly – Waterloo BlackHawks
Ryan was without a doubt one of the top young rookies in the league this year and the fact that he led Waterloo in scoring proves it. Connelly tallied 23 goals and 36 assists for 59 points. Complimenting his scoring he amassed 139 penalty minutes showing that he was not afraid to mix it up if he had to, even for a little guy. Connelly’s skills came out with flying colors this season as he was highly touted prior to the season and he proved to be worth the billing he received. Connelly could skate past you and if that didn’t work he’d find a way to slip a pass by you and onto the stick of a fellow teammate to attack the net. Connelly will be joining Chris Fournier at North Dakota next season and they are eagerly waiting this young rising star.

5.Konrad Reeder – Tri-City Storm
Konrad is another of the small forwards in the league but is lethal to his opponents. There isn’t much flashy to his game, he goes out and gets the job done simply put. Reeder makes the right plays at the right time and loves to get out into the open and go to the net on breakaways or odd man rushes where he is at his best. Reeder led the Storm in scoring this season with 34 goals and 24 assists for 58 points. So far no scholarship has been announced for Konrad but without a doubt before next season starts he will be playing somewhere in the collegiate ranks.

6.Dan Welch – Omaha Lancers
Dan Welch was not even going to play in the USHL this year until he decided to come back and play for the Lancers rather than play for the University of Minnesota. The people in Omaha are certainly glad he decided to stay another year. Welch is one of those players who is complete. He can hit, pass, score and skate like the wind. When you add all of that together, you get a forward who can play with anyone. Welch scored 30 goals to go along with 27 assists for 57 points while racking up 103 penalty minutes as he threw his weight around. Welch is planning on returning to the Golden Gophers of Minnesota next season.

7.Cory McLean – Chicago Steel
Cory may as well be named “The Slasher”. Slashing around on the ice and avoiding the checks of opponents are one of his key abilities that make him the player he is. McLean is so slippery and quick he is hard to corner as he keeps his feet moving. If you give him an inch, he will take a mile. Leading the Steel in scoring with 24 goals and 34 assists for 58 points, McLean made his argument for being a top player in this league and his point was well made. McLean rarely was seen in the sin bin with only 27 penalty minutes proving he could also play the game without getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Cory will play for the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame next year.

8.Andy Contois – Green Bay Gamblers
Year in and year out the Gamblers churn out top notch forwards who can score and play in front of the net. Andy is another coming out of that mold for Green Bay. Contois can be seen on the boards or in front of the net and he can certainly hold his own. Oh yeah, he can score too. Contois put up 18 goals and 24 assists for 42 points this season but his scoring wasn’t his main contribution to the team. Contois was a solid leader and would just as soon like to set up his teammates for a goal rather than take the glory himself. Contois was a team player and will lace ‘em up next season at Lake Superior State.

9.Darren Partch – Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
Darren Partch has some of the softest hands in the league making him a huge asset to his team this year and one of the top forwards in the league. Darren is tall and slim but that does not deter him from banging around if he has to. His game though is precision passing and making the defense work and he excels at it. Partch scored 23 goals and 22 assists for 45 points before an injury ended his season after only 44 games. To date Partch has not been awarded a scholarship.

10.Brandon Bochenski – Lincoln Stars
Brandon Bochesnski was a human highlight film on the ice this season for Lincoln. Bochenski is another of those all-around players who can do it all. He can dig in front of the net, bring the puck up through the open ice or set up his teammates for a goal. No matter what task was at hand for Brandon, he was up to it. Brandon scored 47 goals and had 33 assists for a astonishing total of 80 points but even more astonishing, he finished 2nd on the team in scoring to the aforementioned Chris Fournier. Brandon is another USHL star who is heading to the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota next year.

11.Jonathon Foster – Dubuque Fighting Saints
Mr. Foster was a pleasant surprise in the league this season. Highly touted coming to Dubuque, he showed the USHL why he received that billing. Foster was not exceptionally big but he played well when he needed to most. Foster was Dubuque’s “Mr. Clutch” this season as he scored 26 goals and 25 assists for 51 points to lead the Saints offensively. His game is rather diverse, he can score like there is no tomorrow or he can be a solid defensive forward, he could set the pace of the game when he wanted to and certainly earned his scholarship to Denver University.

12.Brian Canady – Waterloo BlackHawks
Brian earns his spot on my list for his hustle alone. Canady throws everything he has out onto the ice and leaves it there when the game is done. Canady is a scorer and passer too; he has exceptional skills and was the leader for Waterloo’s squad this year. Canady scored 30 goals and 27 assists for 57 points and was 2nd on the team in scoring to the previously mentioned teammate and linemate, Ryan Connelly. Canady is a tall forward without a lot of size but his hustle and drive makes up for it without a doubt. Canady will also don the skates for North Dakota next year.

13.Gerry Hickey – Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
You want tough? If so, then you want Gerry Hickey. Hickey brings high intensity and bone jarring checks to the ice every night. There is nothing complex to his game, he brings it and brings it hard leaving the opponent with the quick decision of how to deal with it. Hickey was not only a physical presence in Cedar Rapids this year but he was a leader who did whatever it took to defend his teammates. Hickey did manage to tally 19 goals and 18 assists for 37 points but more eye-opening is his 213 penalty minutes in 53 regular season games showing he is not afraid to get into the middle of any mess. Hickey will be playing for UMASS-Lowell next season.

14.Riley Riddell – Omaha Lancers
Riley is another of the little guys in the land of the tall trees, but he has no problem chopping them down with the greatest of ease. Riddell is a pesky forward who seems to be in the right place at the right time and seems to stick you with a dagger just when you think you are getting close to the Lancers during the game. Riddell just cuts in, around and sometimes even through the defensive lines to set himself or his teammates up for a score. On the year Riddell put up some strong numbers by scoring 30 goals and 34 assists for 64 points. Riddell will join up with Bemidji State University next year.

15.Scott Polaski – Sioux City Musketeers
Rounding out the list of 15 is Scott Polaski. Last but definitely not least. Polaski is the physical brand of hockey player but had a good offensive touch too. Polaski scored 18 goals and had 26 assists for 44 points on the year but was a physical presence when in front of the net. Polaski wasn’t too shy to bang around on the boards and backed down to nobody. The Musketeers were not an offensive team by any means, but Polaski managed to have a good offensive year. He was rewarded for his hard work with a scholarship to Colorado College.

Honorable Mention

David Moss (Michigan) – Cedar Rapids RoughRiders
Ryan Bennett (Lake Superior State) – Des Moines Buccaneers
Luke Fulghum (Denver U.) – Dubuque Fighting Saints
Luke Stauffacher (Minnesota-Duluth) – Green Bay Gamblers
Preston Callender (U. of New Hampshire) – Lincoln Stars
James Massen (North Dakota) – Sioux Falls Stampede
Dave Iannazzo (St. Cloud State) – Sioux Falls Stampede
Brad Thompson (Minnesota State-Mankato) – Tri-City Storm
Dan Krmpotich – Waterloo BlackHawks

There you have it, hot off the press there is this year’s list of Top Prospects in the USHL on the offensive end. Mind you, not everyone is able to make this list and it is in my opinion only. This league is full of stars and every player is of a very high skill level and ability but some stand out more than others. The USHL is probably one of the top if not the top feeder league into the Collegiate ranks and those numbers will only continue to rise in this league. The 3rd and final piece to my Top Prospects list this season will be coming out soon and will focus on the defensive end of the game. Please email me with any and all feedback at jns1974@hotmail.com. On top of the final piece of the Top Prospects puzzle, I will be putting out a piece wrapping up the USHL playoffs and then a recap of the season in the USHL.