As we promised, we’re back with the candidates for Rookie of the Year.
Figuring out Rookie of the Year can be a bit of a tricky one. Take Taylor Cammarata (Minnesota) and Austin Cangelosi (Boston College) for example. Both players have come in and have really shaped their teams. Cammarata is 16 while Cangelosi is 17.
Then there are the players like Alex Lyon (Yale), who graduated last year from Lake of the Woods (MN-HS) in Baudette before coming to the league.
-Kevin Roy, forward, Lincoln (Brown): He has a league-leading 96 points. He has a league-leading 49 goals. He’s helping break the myth the USHL is a challenging league for forwards. He’s a Player of the Year frontrunner. He’s a Forward of the Year frontunner. He just might be the Rookie of the Year frontrunner too. Disagree with the following statement if you want: Kevin Roy is having arguably the best individual season in USHL history.
-Taylor Cammarata, forward, Waterloo (Minnesota): On a team full of draft picks and former Minnesota high school stars, Cammarata has really guided the ship. He’s been consistent with how he’s sculpted this team’s identity. He opened the season creating plays before taking over as a goal-scorer. He and his 62 points (25 goals, 37 assists) have helped Waterloo, which now finds itself in striking distance of a first-round playoff bye with two weeks left in the season.
-Michael Matheson, defenseman, Dubuque (Boston College): Give Matheson some credit. He came into the season with expectations regarding his offense but has shown he certainly has two-way capability. Dubuque’s defense has been tested all year especially when it lost goaltender Matt Morris (Maine) to an injury. Take a look at Dubuque’s defense and you’ll see when it comes to the numbers, they challenge Fargo and Green Bay for the title of the league’s best.
-Austin Cangelosi, forward, Youngstown (Boston College): Similar to Cammarata, except Cangelosi didn’t have to shoulder the burden by himself. He’s had help but he’s certainly managed to have an impact. His 55 points are second on his team and are 10th in the entire USHL. All of this has helped Youngstown have maybe the best season of any team in the USHL that isn’t Green Bay.
-Robbie Baillargeon, forward, Indiana (Boston University): Ball So Hard has been incredible on a team which has been defined by its more experienced players. He’s made people realize there’s more to Indiana than just Daniil Tarasov, Sean Kuraly (Miami (Ohio)) and Jacob Fallon (Vermont) up front. He’s added another scoring punch especially on the power play. He’s scored 20 points (4 goals, 16 assists) on the one-man advantage this season.
-Michael Downing, defenseman, Dubuque (Michigan): Remember what we were saying about the Fighting Saints’ defense being one of the best in the league? Downing is a reason why. Dubuque has the top penalty killing unit in the USHL. It is third in goals allowed and has no issue suppressing a team in one-goal games. Downing has been Captain Consistency given that he’s played in 50 of his team’s 56 games which is quite a bit for a rookie. Especially a rookie defenseman.
-Alex Lyon, goaltender, Omaha (Yale): Take a look around Omaha’s roster and it cane be argued there’s four or five Rookie of the Year candidates in general. We’re going with Lyon because he’s been solid for them all year even when the offense was sputtering. Lyon has that ability to make just about every game close and has established himself in a goalie-heavy conference. Lyon, in the course of a month, could face Tri-City’s Adam Wilcox (Minnesota), Fargo’s Zane Gothberg (North Dakota), Waterloo’s Stephon Williams (Minnesota-Mankato) and a bonafide stud in Sioux City’s Matt Skoff (Penn State), who is second in the USHL in shutouts. Lyon is 25-15-3 with a 2.80 GAA and a .909 save percentage. Oh and then there’s this little note, he’s doing all this while playing for a first-place team.
-Bryn Chyzyk, forward, Fargo (North Dakota): We’ve watched Chyzyk get severe back spasms with the way he carried the Force at certain times this year. Guy was the best forward to open the season and has continued to be that during injuries, losing streaks, nine-game winning streaks and everything else. Chyzyk’s 26 goals are tied for 10th in the USHL. But he does more than score. Chyzyk has the ability to stop a power play dead in its tracks by stealing the puck at the point and turning it into a shorthanded breakaway chance.
VERDICT: Quite a bit of names. Lot of deserving names at that. If we narrow it down to four, we’ll take Roy, Lyon, Matheson and Cangelosi. And from those four, we’ll narrow down the final two to Roy and Matheson. Roy has certainly been the engine that makes Lincoln run. Though Matheson has helped anchor a defense which has withstood the likes of Green Bay, Indiana, Youngstown and a young, but mad gifted U-17 and U-18 team out East. Roy is the Everything of the Year and it is hard to argue against anything he is done. Matheson’s been great but where would Lincoln be without Roy? They’d be playoff-bound for sure but would the this much of a threat to challenge for a Clark Cup? We’re not so sure. Our winner for Rookie of the Year is Roy.
NEXT: Coach of the Year