The United States Hockey League today announced the CCM and Reebok player awards for the 13th week of the 2013-14 USHL regular season.
Winners include Joel L’Esperance of the Tri-City Storm and Robbie Payne of the Chicago Steel, recognized as co-recipients of CCM Forward of the Week; Brandon Montour of the Waterloo Black Hawks, chosen as CCM Defenseman of the Week; and Billy Christopoulos of the Des Moines Buccaneers, earning honors as Reebok Goaltender of the Week.
Joel L’Esperance, F, Tri-City Storm: The 18-year-old picks up his second consecutive Forward of the Week honor after recording five goals over three games. After being held off the score sheet in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Omaha Lancers, L’Esperance bounced back with a hat trick, including the game-winner in overtime, in Friday’s 6-5 overtime win against the Youngstown Phantoms. He scored the three goals three different ways – power play, shorthanded, and even strength. His hot hand continued on Saturday as he netted two more to lead the Storm to a 3-1 win and weekend sweep of the Phantoms. The Michigan Tech University commit has been on a tear as of late, totaling nine goals over his last four games. His 25 points (18g, 7a) over 26 games ties him for seventh in USHL scoring, and the 18 goals for the Brighton, Michigan native ties him for second in the League.
Robbie Payne, F, Chicago Steel: The forward was instrumental in helping the Steel earn three victories, tallying five points (4g, 1a) and registering a plus-five on-ice rating. On Tuesday, the Gaylord, Michigan native scored a power play goal in the 6-3 win over the Green Bay Gamblers. He found the back of the net again and tied a game-high plus-two rating in Friday’s 4-1 victory against the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. The 20-year-old capped off his career week with a pair of goals and an assist in a 6-4 win versus the Muskegon Lumberjacks. The Northern Michigan University commit is riding a six-game goal streak, recording seven of his eight goals this season during that span. Payne has produced 12 points (8g, 4a) over 22 games during his first USHL season.
Brandon Montour, D, Waterloo Black Hawks: The native of Oshweken, Ontario helped the Hawks pick up two big wins over the weekend, recording five points (1g, 4a) and a plus-three rating. On Friday, he scored a goal and dished out two assists in the 5-3 win over the Omaha Lancers. The three-point night was a season high for the 19-year-old. He dished out two more assists in the 6-4 win over Team USA’s U-17 squad on Friday, which included recording an assist on the game-winning goal for the second straight game. It was his sixth multi-point effort of the season. The University of Massachusetts commit is currently third in scoring among USHL defensemen with 18 points (6g, 12a) over 24 games played.
Billy Christopoulos, G, Des Moines Buccaneers: The 19-year-old allowed just one goal over two games to lead the Buccaneers to a pair of victories and snap his three-game losing streak. He made 28 saves and then turned away 5-of-6 attempts in the shootout on Friday to earn the 2-1 victory over the Green Bay Gamblers. The native of Raleigh, North Carolina came up big again on Saturday as he stopped all 32 shots in the 3-0 win over the Gamblers. It was his first shutout of the season and second of his USHL career. He finished the weekend with a stellar 0.48 goals-against-average and .984 save percentage. Christopoulos has earned four of his five victories this season over his last seven starts.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)