The United States Hockey League today announced the CCM and Reebok player awards for the 12th week of the 2013-14 USHL regular season.
Winners include Joel L’Esperance of the Tri-City Storm, recognized as CCM Forward of the Week; Alec Vanko of the Chicago Steel, chosen as CCM Defenseman of the Week; and Kyle Hayton of the Sioux City Musketeers, earning honors as Reebok Goaltender of the Week.
Joel L’Esperance, F, Tri-City Storm: The 18-year-old had a monster week for the Storm, recording six points (5g, 1a) and a plus-three rating over three games. He scored his team’s lone goal in the 4-1 loss to the Waterloo Black Hawks on Friday night. He dished out an assist in Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Des Moines Buccaneers. The Michigan Tech University commit then had a career night on Saturday, exploding for four goals, including the game-winner, in the 6-3 win over the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. He is the first player in Storm history to score four goals in a game, and the 20th USHL player in the Tier 1 era (2002-present) to accomplish that feat. The native of Brighton, Michigan leads the Storm with 20 points (13g, 7a) in 23 games, and his 13 goals are tied for fourth in the USHL.
Alec Vanko, D, Chicago Steel: The defenseman was a key piece in helping the Steel collect three of a possible four points in the standings during the weekend. On Friday, he doubled his season goal total by scoring a pair on the power play in the 4-3 overtime win over the Youngstown Phantoms. His second goal of the night came just 10 seconds into the overtime period. The 19-year-old then notched an assist on Saturday in the 4-3 overtime loss to the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Over the weekend, Vanko also helped the Steel kill off 14-of-15 opponent power plays. The Oregon, Wisconsin native is the team’s top scoring defenseman and currently fifth overall with 10 points (4g, 6a) in 20 games this season.
Kyle Hayton, G, Sioux City Musketeers: Committed to St. Lawrence University, the goaltender led the Musketeers to three road wins, posting a 1.33 goals-against-average and .955 save percentage. On Wednesday night, he turned aside 23 shots in a 3-1 win over the Fargo Force. Two days later, the 19-year-old came back with a 27-save performance in a 3-2 victory against the Lincoln Stars. He capped off his busy week by blocking 34 shots in Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Sioux Falls Stampede. It was the 13th win of the season for the Faribault, Minnesota native, tying him for the USHL lead and already equaling his win total from last season. Hayton ranks tied for third among League goaltenders in both GAA (2.35) and SV% (.923).
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)