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USPHL Premier 2023-24 Midwest West Division Players Of The Month: February 2024

Summaries By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com 

 

Selection Process: The league media office sends top candidates to divisional coaches for review and coaches either approve or challenge the nominations.

 

Forward: Jay Ellingson, Minnesota Squatch

Ellingson (‘05/Maple Grove, Minn.) put up five goals and 17 assists for 22 points in seven games, racking up 3.14 points per game as he finished the regular season as the second in his family to crest the 100-point mark in a single USPHL Premier season. He put up 101 points, one year after older brother and teammate Daniel Ellingson scored 103 points in 2022-23. He finished the season on a 24-game scoring streak, with 58 points over that streak. Additionally, Ellingson led his team with a +14 and was on the ice for 24 Squatch goals for and only three against. 

 

Forward: Cannon Bonifay, Minnesota Squatch

Bonifay (‘04/Fort Worth, Texas) also finished in the top 15 of USPHL Premier scoring as the Squatch – bound for the second round of the Midwest West playoffs with a Nationals berth two wins away – fielded yet another offensively powerful team in Year 2 of their existence. Bonifay lived up to his first name by blasting home 13 goals in February, while adding six assists for 19 points in just seven games for a 2.71 points per game average. 

For the season, the former Dallas Stars Elite standout put up 88 points in 39 games. He also scored 19 points over each of his last six games to carry a hot streak into the playoffs. 

 

Forward: Cyril Valach, Minnesota Mullets

Mullets Owner/GM/Head Coach Chris Walby certainly saw something very special in this 2004-born native of Moravske Budejovice, Czechia, who was playing in his first North American season this year – so much so he made him a Captain of the Mullets. He repaid that confidence as the Mullets made a late playoff push as part of a bunched-up group chasing two playoff spots late. Valach was up to the task and put up eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points in his nine February games, averaging 2.11 points per game. He finished the season with 33 points in 22 games. Valach also led all Mullets forwards with 25:18 of average ice time in February, 

 

Defense: Gabriel Myers, Minnesota Blue Ox 

Myers (‘04/Southeast Polk, Iowa) was huge for the Blue Ox in helping them seal up eventual home ice for the 2024 playoffs, after putting up a 3-6-9 line in seven February games. This output, which saw him average 1.29 points per game (division best for defensemen), also pushed him to a final season total of 33 points, an eight-point improvement over his already impressive 2022-23 rookie season. He led the Blue Ox in February ice time with an average of 25:12 per game, and his 12 hits also led the Blue Ox. His eight blocked shots ranked second on the Blue Ox in February. 

 

Defense: Aiden Elliot, Minnesota Mullets

Elliot (‘05/Alton, Ill.) joined Valach in being a big help for the Mullets as they pursued and eventually earned that sought-after playoff berth. Elliot was strong offensively with a 3-3-6 line in nine games, and he was also first among Mullets blueliners in shots on goal with 36 in February. His 23:48 of ice time was good for second among the Mullets blueliners. Elliot completed a very impressive rookie junior season by putting up 23 points in 41 regular season games. He projects to be a huge building block for future Mullets teams. 

 

Goaltender: Bora Yildirim, Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings 

Yildirim (‘03/Praha, Czechia) was a powerful force in helping the Riverkings clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs – and then he also helped them win their first playoff series in March in two games to stand currently two wins away from Nationals. He went 3-0-1-0 during February, playing 244 minutes which included stopping 105 saves on 111 shots for a .946 save percentage and a 1.48 GAA. He also registered a 24-save shutout performance on Feb. 14, breaking the hearts of the Chicago Crush on Valentine’s Day. 

For the season, Yildirim went 12-2-3-2 with a .950 save percentage, which is the best single season percentage for a Riverkings goaltender in their franchise history, and the seventh best in USPHL Premier history.

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