Congratulations to our Midwest West Division All-Stars, who were selected from votes made by the coaches with support from the League Media Director.
Daniel Ellingson, Minnesota Squatch
The Midwest West’s contribution to the league’s group of six triple-digit scorers this year, Ellingson (‘03/Osseo, Minn.) certainly made a shout as a junior rookie. Playing 18U AAA for the Des Moines Jr. Buccaneers last year, one might’ve thought some transition period/learning curve was in order, but Ellingson cracked the 50-point mark well before Thanksgiving dinner was served. Ellingson finished third in both overall scoring with 103 points and third in assists with 62. He also led the Midwest West with a +58 rating.
Jack Pojar, Minnesota Squatch
While six players made the 100-point mark, only eight across the USPHL Premier made it even to 90, including the Squatch’s veteran forward Jack Pojar (‘02/Osseo, Minn.). Although the Squatch were in their inaugural season, Ellingson was in his second Premier season after playing high school hockey alongside Ellingson at Osseo High School up to his 2021 graduation. Pojar sent his offense right down the middle, averaging better than a goal and an assist per game, at 45-45-90. He finished eighth in USPHL Premier scoring.
Blake Bakey, Minnesota Squatch
Bakey (‘03/Dubuque, Iowa) saw a 49-point improvement from his first USPHL Premier season in 2021-22 to this year, moving from 16 to 65 points overall. He put up a line of 16-49-65 for a 1.59 points per game average. That average was third on his team, but higher than the leading scorers of all but one other Midwest West team. He was just outside the Top 10 in assists for the season as well.
Tyler Schmitt, Isanti Outlaws
The Outlaws had a great first year as essentially a new team, taking over the Isanti, Minn.-based franchise from previous ownership. Schmitt was the star from Day 1, putting up a 34-47-81 line for a 1.88 points per game average in 43 games. The ‘03 from Big Lake, Minn., had put up a respectable 36 points in 38 games with the former Rum River Mallards in Isanti one year earlier, but blew that out of the water by 45 points. He was also top 10 in blocked shots (68) and hits (59) this season.
Easton Parnell, Isanti Outlaws
The local boy done good, Parnell – an ‘03 from nearby Cambridge and a graduate of Cambridge-Isanti High School – had one of the division’s top six points per game averages with a 1.61 mark. He scored 24 goals and 47 assists for 71 points. Over 106 regular season games playing USPHL hockey in Isanti, Parnell has 117 career points.
William Tricarico, Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings
Committed to Illinois State University (ACHA)
Tricarico (‘02/East Islip, N.Y.) was rare in the USPHL Premier, coming out of college hockey and going into junior hockey. He had played two years for the Canisius College ACHA, but was looking for a change and a potential new college hockey situation. He signed on with the Riverkings and had no problem jumping right into a leadership role under the Riverkings’ new ownership and coaching staff, posting 39 goals and 22 assists for 61 points in 43 games. Tricarico finished tied for second in the Premier in game-winning goals with eight. He is now moving on to the Illinois State University ACHA squad.
Tobias Falkeid, Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings
The ‘02 from Hanefoss, Norway, aced the test of his first North American hockey season. He’d previously played in his homeland as well as in Denmark and Austria before calling Wisconsin his home. He put up 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points in 38 games. He was even more potent during the Riverkings’ two hard-fought postseason rounds, posting a 4-4-8 line in five games. The Riverkings did well, powering past the Minnesota Blue Ox in three games, before falling to the division champion Hudson in two, including a 3-2 Game 1.
Teodor Benno Vaage, Minnesota Moose
Another Norwegian who enjoyed success in the USPHL Premier, Vaage was in his second Premier season and first with the Moose. He certainly made the right move, as the Moose were able to make their return to the National Championships this year. Vaage saw a 38-point improvement from one year to the next, posting 24 goals and 31 assists for 55 points to lead the Moose. He also had nine power play points (4-5-9), five shorthanded points (3-2-5) and five GWG’s, doing basically everything ever asked of a hockey player.
Ryan Mulrenin, Minnesota Moose
Mulrenin (‘02/Wayzata, Minn.) had a fantastic single season in the USPHL Premier, coming to the Moose from the prestigious Tier II BCHL. He put up nearly a goal per game at 27 through 35 games, and he added 23 assists for 50 points in just 35 regular season games. He then took his game to a whole different level in the Moose’s eight postseason games, putting up a 7-7-14 line, an all-time Moose playoff points record.
Noah Lafleur, Steele County Blades
Lafleur (‘03/Fairbanks, Alaska) had an outstanding first junior season, making the jump after a leading role for four years at West Salem High School in Wisconsin. He earned multiple votes after posting a brilliant line of 29 goals and 21 assists for 51 points in just 41 games to lead the Blades. He set a Blades USPHL Premier record for most goals in a single season, as well.
Harout Torosian, Hudson Havoc
On a team with defense as the headline, the division champion Havoc still needed to score goals to win games. Torosian did plenty of that and also set up even more. The ‘02, a second-year Havoc from Hoffman Estates, Ill., scored 21 goals to lead the Havoc in that category and registered 24 assists for 45 points in 44 games. Overall, he leaves his USPHL career with 82 points in 87 regular season games, and 10 points in 16 postseason contests, including consecutive Nationals trips.
Jacob Jakusz, Hudson Havoc
Committed to Lawrence University
The third-year USPHL Premier veteran, who also has NCDC experience, was one of the major reasons Hudson finished with – and this is not a misprint – an average of just 20.00 shots against per game. The Havoc’s defense was stifling from the start, and it helped them to a 9-0 start to the season. They didn’t get into games until Oct. 8, and then won each until Nov. 4. From there, they only lost seven times total (once in a shootout). Jakusz (‘02/Weston, Wis.) posted 12 goals and 19 assists for 31 points and was second among Premier defensemen and fourth overall in plus-minus at +44.
Evan Izenstark, Hudson Havoc
Committed to Lawrence University
Another Lawrence University recruit out of the Havoc, Izenstark (‘02/Northbrook, Ill.) led all Midwest West defensemen with a +49 and put up a line of 5-24-29 in 44 games for the defensive dynamo that was the Havoc all season long. Izenstark, who will play for his former Havoc coach Brett Wall at Lawrence, was the Havoc’s ice time leader this season as well, putting up 23:58 per game as they held teams to an average of just 20 shots on goal per game.
Kyle Cupolo, Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings
Cupolo (‘03/Waterloo, Ont.) was the division’s scoring leader among blueliners, putting up 13 assists and 28 assists for 41 points. Although he was in his first Premier season, he came in with two prior seasons of junior hockey in his home country of Canada. Along with his offensive performance, he also led the division with an almost unthinkable 134 blocked shots this season. Great shinpads are a must!
Logan Lake, Minnesota Moose
A repeat All-Star here in the Midwest West, Lake closed his USPHL Premier career with 175 combined regular season and playoff games. This included three Nationals berths, and also more than 107 points in 150 games. No one in Moose history comes close to his 175 games played, and he is the team’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 115 combined regular season and playoff points. This year, he posted 40 points in 44 games, a single season Moose record for a blueliner.
Jack Kopfstein, Dells Ducks
One of the league’s top 2005-born defensemen, Kopfstein is already a two-year Premier veteran, and one who more than doubled his points output from last year. He posted 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points in 43 games, improving on a 15-point season in 2021-22. He also helped the Ducks post their best season overall since 2018-19. This star just continues to rise.
Levi Preugschas, Steele County Blades
Preugschas posted a strong 14 wins along with a .915 save percentage, putting up performances throughout the season that attracted votes from more than just his own coach. The ‘03 Buffalo, Minn., native completed his second USPHL Premier season. His .915 mark is an all-time best single season (and career) mark in the Blades’ long history.
Nate Gulsvig, Minnesota Squatch
The second-year Premier veteran Gulsvig (‘02/Fargo, N.D.) was an early contributor to the Hudson Havoc’s defensive success, posting a 0.72 goals against average, a .958 save percentage and five shutouts in nine games in Hudson. He was traded to the Squatch around the Christmas break and finished with 16 very solid games for the Squatch. In total, he came out of the season with a 15-6-1-3 record, a 2.35 goals against average and a division-best .925 save percentage, a top 20 mark in the Premier.