We’re back with Part II in our series looking at frontrunners for specific USHL awards.
Today’s post looks at the Forward of the Year candidates. Feeling around the league and practically the planet is Lincoln’s Kevin Roy (Brown) is going to run away with the award among other trophies.
Let’s look and see if anyone really could challenge Roy for the award
-Kevin Roy, Lincoln (Brown): He’s a Player of the Year favorite. He’s a Rookie of the Year favorite. He’s turned down the QMJHL team in his backyard. He’s about to score 100 points and in the process get drafted in his second year of eligibility. Oh and he’s also been an internet sensation long before coming to the USHL. Let the record reflect Roy has scored 90 points (47 goals, 43 assists) in 53 games. Guy has terrorized USHL defenses while making Lincoln look like an even more dangerous team and maybe the Western Conference favorite as the playoffs draw closer. The only thing Roy hasn’t done is feed the homeless but for all we know, he’s probably done that between shifts.
-Daniil Tarasov, Indiana: If anyone has reason to be mad the last two seasons it could be Tarasov. He scored 75 points in 57 games last season. It led some to wonder if he could do it again this season without some of the high-end talent he previously had. Tarasov has done it again scoring 76 points (41 goals, 35 assists) in 54 games. He has made Indiana another legit contender and he’s done it in a year where Green Bay has dominated the league and he has a younger core of teammates. Roy’s incredible season, in turn, has made people forget about what Tarasov has done this year. He’s helped younger forwards such as Robbie Baillargeon (Boston University) into becoming a solid presence on a franchise known for its scoring. He’s shown the league a player such as Jacob Fallon (Vermont) could be a playmaker and have as many goals this season as he had in the last two years. If its not for Kevin Roy, people would give Tarasov more credit. Period.
-Mike Ambrosia, Youngstown (Princeton): Ambrosia is in the same boat as Tarasov when it comes to being overshadowed by Roy. Ambrosia has been one of the better forwards in the league this year constantly creating chances for his teammates. He’s created chances and been a leader on a team which definitely had the pieces to compete and contend for an Eastern Conference title. Ambrosia’s 44 assists – second in the league – have gone a long way towards changing the image many have had about Youngstown’s forwards and in truth, that whole team. We’ve talked to him for an upcoming feature and you can tell he gets it. He gets how important it is to achieve consistency and be a leader for a team. Ambrosia looks the part, sounds the part and acts the part.
-Jimmy Murray, Omaha (St. Cloud State): Murray, in a way, represents what’s been so intriguing about this year’s group of top forwards. From Roy to Murray, every one of these guys were questioned. Murray was questioned as to whether or not he could really succeed in the USHL. He was here in Fargo and was later shipped to the NAHL and then eventually the Lancers. All he’s done is lead the USHL in assist along with having Omaha as one of the favorites to challenge for the Clark Cup title. Teammates say he’s been a leader and it’s even made some in Fargo say they wish he was back. Murray also managed to earn a scholarship to St. Cloud State in the process. Can’t discount the kind of year he’s having.
-Zemgus Girgensons, Dubuque (Vermont): See this post to get an idea of where Girgensons stands in this debate.
THE VERDICT: All of these players make really legit arguments. But when it comes down to who has been the best forward this year, without question it is Kevin Roy. It’s Roy all the way. But if we had to pick a winner that wasn’t Kevin Roy, it’d be a toss up and in that regard we’d have to go with Ambrosia. Nothing against Tarasov, Murray or Girgensons but what’s being done in Youngstown gets more impressive by the week.
NEXT IN THE SERIES: Defenseman of the Year