Surely when you were going through the list of players who could make an impact during this time of year Dennis Kravchenko (Vermont) had to be on the list.
Or was it Matthew Weis (Ohio State) or Kirill Lebedev instead?
USHL teams have had its constants in the lineup but a few of them have made a few mid-year call-ups which have paid dividends. Here’s a look at some of the players you might want to get familiar with as the season goes along.
-Rasmus Bengtsson, defenseman, Muskegon: What better way to make a mid-season adjustment than to call up an NHL Draft Pick? It’s what the Lumberjacks did when they brought over the Swede. Bengtsson was taken in the second round last season by the Florida Panthers and is one of the better up and coming talents coming along in Sweden over the next few years. Bengtsson, who is 6-2 and a 190 pounds, has scored seven points (2 goals, 5 assists) in 14 games this season.
-Milos Bubela (RPI), forward, Dubuque: Bubela made the Slovakian National Team and played in the World Junior Championships in January. Bubela had a solid tournament five points in six games. He was then acquired by Dubuque and has continued to make an impact. He’s scored nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 12 games. Seven of his points have come in the last six games. At 6-2, 186 pounds he’s another sizable scoring threat to add to an offense which is already difficult to deal with.
-Griffin Foulk, defenseman, Tri-City: Foulk has been a player who has kept getting playing time with the Storm and keeps making the most of it. He’s played in 12 games this season picking up two points in the time he’s been with the team. Foulk is one of the few 16 year-olds playing in the league this year. His rights are owned by Everett (WHL) after being traded by Edmonton so he’s already attracted a few eyes. At 6-1, 180 he has the size with the promise of getting bigger. Foulk is making strides this year but next year could be the year where he really does his damage.
-Dylan Gaureau (Maine), forward, Cedar Rapids: If any team needed a jolt midway through the year it was Cedar Rapids. Goals were at a premium playing in the high-octane Eastern Conference where four of the league’s highest scoring teams go at it on a nightly basis. Gaureau is one of three RoughRiders to come in and make an impact. The 6-1, 185-pound Richmond Hill, Ont. native has scored five points in 14 games for Cedar Rapids. He’s just one of two players on this list to keep tabs on as Cedar Rapids looks to stay in the playoff hunt.
-Dave Gust, forward, Fargo: Gust has the most games played of anyone on this list but what he did for the Force this year certainly cannot be downplayed. He was on the team’s affiliate list and was brought up to see what he could do. All Gust did was form the team’s second best line and put up 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists) in 27 games this season. There are many reasons the Force won nine in a row earlier in the year and are currently in the running for a first-round bye or first-round home series. Gust is one of those reasons.
-Dennis Kravchenko (Vermont), forward, Cedar Rapids: Kravchenko certainly made people take notice when he broke into the league by scoring four points in his first six games before exploding for a five-point performance in a overtime loss against Waterloo. He has cooled down a little by not scoring a point in his last five games. But in all, he has scored 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in 18 games since he arrived to the team. Kravenchenko and Gareau have been of the two reasons why Cedar Rapids has been getting better at this point of the year.
-Kirill Lebedev, forward, Indiana: Sorry if this sounds familiar but Indiana found a Russian forward who can put up points. Lebedev came to the Ice via Stalnie Lisi Magnitogorskin the MHL and was part of the Metallurg Magnitogorsk system which produced Penguins star Evgeni Malkin. Lebedev, 20, has scored eight points (7 goals, 1 assist) in eight games with the Ice. The 6-1, 185 pound Lebedev just had the performance of the weekend scoring a hat trick in a 6-3 win over Omaha.
-Vladisav Lysenko, defenseman, Waterloo: The Ukrainian-born Lysenko came to Waterloo after playing for Mytischi Altanti in the MHL earlier this season. He also represented Russia at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge earlier in the year. The 6-foot, 180-pound 16-year-old has played in six games with Waterloo picking up two points with both points coming over the weekend. He is a plus-3 this season as Waterloo looks to continue its ascension in the Western Conference standings.
-Alex Roos (Colorado College), forward, Chicago: Roos, who is actually from the Chicagoland Area, was playing with Team Illinois in the HPHL before getting the call up to the Steel. Roos has found a way to fit in scoring five points (4 goals, 1 assists) in nine games. His first game on Jan. 28 against Green Bay was a coming out party to be remembered picking up one goal and one assist. After going scoreless in five games he picked up a goal this past weekend against Cedar Rapids.
-Dominic Sacco, forward, Omaha: Perhaps what was lost in Lebedev’s hat trick performance was Sacco. The 16-year-old picked up two goals in the loss adding to what he’s done this season for the Lancers. Sacco has scored eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) in 14 games this season.
-Bradley Shumway (RIT), defenseman, Chicago: He started the season playing with playing with Wichita Falls in the NAHL was was doing quite well. Shumway scored 20 points (3 goals, 17 assists) in 38 games before being called up by Chicago. He has picked up two points (1 goal, 1 assist) in the 11 games he’s played with the Steel, who have won three in a row. Both Roos and Shumway have been part of what has been playing like one of the best teams in the USHL. Chicago has won seven of its last 11 games and these wins have come against Youngstown (3), Indiana, Green Bay, Cedar Rapids and Muskegon. Also, for what its worth, three of Chicago’s losses have come by two goals or less against Indiana and Green Bay.
-Matthew Weis (Ohio State), forward, Green Bay: Weis made a bit of news yesterday when it was announced he was committed to Ohio State. Green Bay has certainly had its positives this season with its players but Weis is a guy to keep an eye on for a few reasons. He has scored 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 17 games this season for a Gamblers squad that appears to be well-prepared for a Clark Cup run. Weis spent two seasons in the AYHL with the New Jersey Hitmen scoring 88 points (34 goals, 54 assists) in 61 games before playing with Corpus Christi in the NAHl this year. He put up 18 points (4 goals, 14 assists) in 25 games before being acquired by Green Bay. Just think, Weis will be in Green Bay next season with Brendan Lemieux and Nick Schmaltz (North Dakota) creating an even brighter future for this team.