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USPHL Premier 2023-24 Atlantic Division All-Stars

This is the first in a series of All-Star announcements that will continue through the next two weeks until we have announced the All-Stars for all nine Premier Divisions. Keep checking USPHLPremier.com for the latest All-Star announcements. 

Summaries by Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 

 

Selection Process: Voting took part in two phases. In the first phase, the division’s coaches voted for three of their own players and three players from other teams in the division. Once these results were compiled, the division’s coaches voted on the final team. 

 

Forwards

Peter Labos, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders 

The ‘04 from Plainview, N.Y., came back to the Jr. Islanders program after a year with North Shore Academy and was a threat every time out for a much-improved P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Premier team. The former 18U Jr. Islander (2021-22) posted 32 goals and 41 assists for 73 points in 44 games as a junior rookie. When Labos put up a goal and five assists for six points on Oct. 27 against the Jersey Hitmen, he set a team record for points in a single game. Labos’ 20:34 was tops among forwards this year, as were his 757 shifts. His +8 was second on the team. He also led the Jr. Islanders in shots on goals with 198. His 32 goals gave him a shooting percentage of 16.1 percent. 

 

 

Filip Tomiczek, Elmira Impact

Tomiczek (‘04/Trinec, Czechia) became the Elmira franchise’s all-time leading scorer this year, with 98 points – 93 points of which were scored this year, also a single season record for Elmira, narrowly beating the bar-setting 82 points set by 2022-23 All-Star Nathan Garau. He ripped through the middle of the season, putting up a run of 23 goals and 32 assists for 55 points in 23 straight games from Nov. 12 to Feb. 9, giving the league its seventh-longest scoring streak of the season. His nine game-winning goals were tied for second-most in the Premier Conference. He drew opponents to distraction, drawing 32 infractions against him while sitting for just 26 minutes. Tomiczek also led the Impact with 276 shots on goal, giving him a 15.2 percent shooting percentage. 

Tomiczek signed an NCDC tender on April 10 with the Jersey Hitmen for 2024-25, a great show of #USPHLAdvancement In Action!

 

 

Zackary Chouinard, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights

Chouinard (‘04/Trois-Rivieres, Que.) has been in great company in the Knights. His 57 points (off a 27-30-57) is fourth all time for a single season in Knights history. Those above him all moved on to become NCDC regulars the next year with the Knights, and Chouinard is off to a good start in that direction, having played four NCDC games this year himself. His +24 was second on the team among forwards, and with 182 shots, he had an impressive 14.8 percent shooting percentage. Chouinard came to WBS from the Le Sommet Faucons, a team that became a USPHL Affiliate this year as part of the partnership between their North American Prep Hockey League and the USPHL Elite. 

 

 

 

Karson Grainey, Hershey Cubs 

Grainey (‘05/Mount Union, Pa.) was a fantastic addition to the Cubs as he made his return to the USPHL – he had previously played with the Palmyra Black Knights 15U team in 2020-21. A hard-nosed power forward, Grainey could both fill nets, scoring 27 goals on 160 shots for a 16.9 percent shooting percentage, and he could also throw his weight around, as his 39 hits were second on the Cubs. His +22 was second among Cubs forwards and his 17:27 of average ice time was tops for all Hershey forwards. In the end, he put up 44 points in 39 games and led the team with six power play goals, as well. His intense game attracted votes from beyond his own team. 

 

 

Lex Roldan, Elmira Impact 

Roldan (‘03/East Aurora, N.Y.) joined teammate Filip Tomiczek in breaking the prior single season scoring record for Elmira, set by Nathan Garau in 2022-23 (82 points). Roldan, a second–year USPHL veteran committed to SUNY-Morrisville, improved from 36 points with Buffalo last season to 83 here in 2023-24, one of the biggest year-to-year improvements seen in recent seasons. Roldan finished the season third in power play points (34), and second in power play assists (28). For the Impact, he was the No. 1 faceoff guy, winning 399 draws for a 52 percent success rate. His 22:26 of ice time was first among Impact forwards, and his +7 was second among Impact forwards. 

 

 

Joona Juntunen, Connecticut Jr. Rangers

This was quite obviously the best year in the history of the Jr. Rangers Premier team. Not only did they win the National Championship, as well as the regular season league championship, but the top five scorers this year all set the top five all-time best point totals for a single Connecticut season. He scored 103 of his 112 points in a nearly season-long scoring streak that started Nov. 1 and closed with the end of the regular season. No player had more game-winning goals in the Premier than Juntunen’s 10. 

Juntunen ended the regular season as their all-time leader in points with 159 since joining in 2022. His 45 goals this year and 66 for his career are also both Connecticut records, as are the 112 points he scored this season. His 16 playoff points this year are tied with teammate Yakov Yakzhin for best single postseason performance as well. 

 

 

Yakov Yakzhin, Connecticut Jr. Rangers

The four-year Premier veteran Yakzhin (‘03/Moskva, Russia) broke a previous record, but oddly didn’t actually close the season as the current record-holder. Yakzhin’s 109-point season helped him to 231 career regular season points, which passed former Ogden Mustangs forward Jake Meure, who held the previous record of 226 points. However, Fresno’s Noak Persson would finish the season as the all-time record-holder with 240 points. Nevertheless, Yakzhin will always stand as one of the best and most productive forwards the Premier Conference has ever seen. His 109 points this season are also seventh-most in a single USPHL Premier season, with 83 points coming in a 28-game scoring streak, fourth in the league (one rank behind Juntunen’s). Yakzhin finished with a +97 rating on the season. His 20:36 of ice time per game was first among Rangers forwards this year. In the faceoff circle, he won 488 draws for a 57 percent success rate. 

Yakzhin’s 16 points in the playoffs en route to the National Championship are tied for sixth all-time in a single postseason. 

 

 

Blake Kashark, Connecticut Jr. Rangers

Another player with a huge year-over-year improvement in points, Kashark (‘03/Lockport, Ill.) improved from 28 points last year to 79 points this year. That included 40 goals, which tied him for ninth in the league this season. The UMass-Dartmouth commit was tied for first in the league in shorthanded goals with six. He played a physical, two-way game, ranking second among the team in hits (39) and first among Connecticut forwards in blocked shots (20). Kashark has played each of his three seasons in the USPHL Premier with fellow All-Star Hunter Scanlon (and Nick Berrettini) and two seasons apiece with seven other Rangers teammates, including fellow All-Star Markus Andrews. Kashark leaves the Rangers with a ring and 137 points in 115 regular season games and another 13 points in 18 career playoff games, including two trips to Nationals. 

 

 

James Clifford, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders 

Clifford (‘05/Setauket, N.Y.) is a homegrown success story for P.A.L., progressing from the youth ranks through two USPHL16U seasons then to the USPHL Elite and now to the USPHL Premier, where he had outstanding 58 points in all 44 games. He was also called up for two games with the Jr. Islanders’ defending Dineen Cup National Championship team after his Premier season ended, showing he is definitely on their Tier II radar. Clifford was essential to the Jr. Islanders improving from seven wins in 2022-23 to 25 victories this year, and was also the No. 1 playmaker with 58 of his points coming off 42 assists. Clifford, who also had a 29-point scoring streak over 14 games, is an absolute personification of #USPHLAdvancement In Action! 

 

 

Tomas Smetanka, P.A.L. Jr. Islanders

The ‘06 from Czechia had a really good reason for playing in just 29 USPHL Premier games this year. Twenty-three other games this year – including all after Feb. 9 – were played with the NCDC Jr. Islanders team. Smetanka was selected 11th overall in the 2023 NCDC Entry Draft out of the Springfield Pics 16U AAA team and certainly lived up to that high billing for the defending Dineen Cup Champions, and most certainly for their Premier brethren in his time there. In 29 Premier games, he scored 44 points. With the NCDC team, he added 12 points in 23 games. He was also selected to play in the NCDC Young Guns Game in Jan. 15 at Boston University, an honor he shared with one other All-Star on this list. 

 

 

Defensemen

Hunter Scanlon, Connecticut Jr. Rangers

Perhaps no other defenseman in Premier history will have left their mark on the league in the myriad ways that Scanlon did. Start with the key fact that he’s walking away a National Champion after helping lead the Jr. Rangers to their first National Championship. Add on top of that the fact he is the Premier’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen, and the first Premier blueliner to pass 200 points for his career. With 108 points, he became the first and only blueliner to cross the century mark in a season, and led to his 212 career points. That also ranks him seventh all-time in Premier scoring history, among all skaters since 2017.

Other players left their mark on Scanlon as well, as he led his team with 66 blocked shots this year, and he was a +84. Alas, as he is an ‘03 out of Rockford, Ill., the Scanlon Era in the Premier has come to an end. 

 

 

Markus Andrews, Connecticut Jr. Rangers

Andrews (‘03/Stockholm, Sweden) was another crucial player towards the accomplished end goal of winning it all in the Premier this year. He was also able to announce his NCAA commitment to St. Mary’s University almost immediately thereafter. Andrews, a second-year Premier defenseman, improved his points output this year by 50 points, a lot for any skater never mind a defenseman. His 85 points were third overall in the Premier this year, and no other defenseman had more than his 80 helpers. Those assists actually tied for second all-time with Fresno forward Emil Loov, both just behind the 84 put up in 2022-23 by former Vernal Oiler Alex Bartakovics. He and Scanlon were the No. 1 pair on the Connecticut blueline, both averaging 24:00 and 24:06, respectively, this year. 

 

 

A.J. Saadeh, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights

Saadeh was part of the machine that is the Knights as the “Wilkes Wagon” steamrolled its way to a third straight Premier (and Elite) Nationals appearance, a berth for every year of their existence at both levels so far. The ‘04 from Brossard, Que., joined from Bishop’s College – along with teammate Nick Therrien – and was an immediate contributor on the blue line. Along with putting up 37 points in 39 games, he was also a +37 to lead the Knights overall this year. His 40 hits and 21:52 of ice time were both good for second on defense. Saadeh also played in five games with the NCDC Knights, one in November and four more in December.

 

 

Ethan Tatomir, Jersey Hitmen

Tatomir (‘07/Leamington, Ont.) joined P.A.L.’s Tomas Smetanka in the 2024 NCDC Young Guns All-Star Game at Boston University on Jan. 15, and registered an assist in that game full of the NCDC’s top ‘06, ‘07 and ‘08 players and prospects. With the Premier Hitmen this year, Tatomir was the team’s leading scorer – not just among defensemen, but overall – with 46 points in 40 games. He led the defense in time on ice with 22:13 and he also registered 75 blocked shots on the season. Tatomir made his NCDC debut on Sept. 22, as well. 

 

 

Connor Craig, Elmira Impact

Craig, an ‘03 from Smiths Falls, Ont., joined the Impact as a fourth-year junior veteran and helped the Impact get its first winning season since its inaugural 2020-21 season that also saw Elmira make Nationals. Craig led the Impact in ice time with 26:11 and registered 67 points to finish fifth overall in Premier defenseman scoring. Craig also led the league in power play assists with 33 and was second in power play points with 37. He put himself in front of 47 shots, ranking second on the defense, and he was also second among Elmira defensemen with 49 hits on the season. Craig jumped right to the pro ranks after the Premier season, remaining in Elmira to play with the FPHL’s Elmira River Sharks. 

 

Goaltenders

Ryan Rhodes, Rockets Hockey Club 

Rhodes (‘04/Ludlow, Mass.) went 10-6-3-1 to help the Rockets finish with a winning record for their seventh straight season, i.e. their entire existence in the Premier. A big part of this was a very impressive late season run in which he went 4-1-1-0 as the Rockets challenged for playoff positioning. Six points ended up separating third place from sixth. Rhodes, a first-year junior out of Wilbraham and Monson Academy and the Springfield Thunderbirds in his home state, finished with a .911 save percentage for the regular season. He enjoyed a 23-save shutout to kick off that 4-1-1-0 late season run as well. All-Stars are selected based on regular season performance, but Rhodes certainly also helped his team in the postseason by going 2-1 with a .969 save percentage against Hershey and Connecticut. 

 

Adrian Lamp, Connecticut Jr. Rangers 

The ‘05 out of Austria was the backbone for the Jr. Rangers en route to their regular season championship, playing 22 games and going 19-2-0-0 with a .921 save percentage and 2.23 GAA. This included a run of nine straight wins in November and December, part of the Jr. Rangers’ overall record-setting 30-game winning streak. He also formed a massively successful duo with Teddy Ecker in the postseason, as Lamp went 3-0 with a 1.79 GAA and .929 save percentage in the postseason. 

 

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