The United States Hockey League today announced the CCM and Reebok player awards for the first week of the 2013-14 USHL regular season.
Award winners include Ryan Hitchcock of Team USA and Zeb Knutson from the Sioux Falls Stampede, named co-recipients of CCM Forward of the Week, Ryan Bliss of Team USA, selected as CCM Defenseman of the Week; and Jared Rutledge of the Green Bay Gamblers, earning honors as Reebok Goaltender of the Week.
Ryan Hitchcock, F, Team USA: The Manhasset, New York native put together a strong weekend, helping the Team USA Under-18 squad to a pair of wins to open the USHL season. Friday night against Youngstown, the 17-year-old dished out three assists in a big 9-3 win over the Phantoms. He also recorded a plus-three on-ice rating. On Saturday, the Yale University commit scored his first goal of the season, and added another assist, in a 4-2 win over the Indiana Ice. It marked the first time in his USHL career that Hitchcock has had back-to-back multi-point games.
Zeb Knutson, F, Sioux Falls Stampede: The second-year forward was a driving force in the Stampede’s 6-4 win over the Des Moines Buccaneers on Saturday night. The Sioux Falls, South Dakota native tallied a pair of first-period goals in a span of 1:09 and added another in the third to record his first career USHL hat trick. He also tied a game high with a plus-two on-ice rating and led all players with six shots on goal. The 19-year-old Minnesota State University-Mankato commit is coming off a 51-point season (26g, 25a), which was good for third on the team.
Ryan Bliss, D, Team USA: Committed to Cornell University, the 17-year-old dished out three assists and posted a plus-four on-ice rating in a pair of wins over the weekend for Team USA’s Under-18 squad. On Friday, Bliss handed out two assists and recorded a plus-three on-ice rating in the 9-3 win over the Youngstown Phantoms. He tacked on another assist in Saturday’s 4-2 win over the Indiana Ice. The Bedford, New Hampshire native is already just one point away from matching his point total from all of last season over 38 USHL games.
Jared Rutledge, G, Green Bay Gamblers: Back for his second stint in the USHL, Rutledge backstopped the Gamblers to a 5-1 win over the Chicago Steel on Friday night. The Skokie, Illinois native recorded a 1.00 goals-against average as he turned aside 39 of the 40 shots he saw to register a .975 save percentage. Rutledge, 19, comes to Green Bay after spending last season at the University of Michigan. Previously, he spent two seasons in the USHL with Team USA and recorded a 15-11-2 record with a 2.63 GAA and .911 SV%.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)