Top 2019 NHL Draft prospect earns first career weekly honor
The United States Hockey League announced the Forward, Defenseman and Goaltender of the Week for Week 16 of the 2017-18 season. Team USA forward Jack Hughes was named Forward of the Week for the first time, while Chicago Steel defenseman Graham Lillibridge and Sioux City Musketeers goaltender Matt Jurusik earned their second USHL weekly awards of the season. Hughes recorded 10 points in three games last week, including a five-assist performance last Monday, Lillibridge dished out three helpers in two games and Jurusik stopped 87 of 89 shots in a pair of starts over the weekend, allowing just one goal in each appearance. The USHL is America’s only Tier 1 junior hockey league, and continues to lead the world in the advancement of Division I college hockey athletes.
Forward: Jack Hughes - Team USA
3 GP: 2 goals, 8 assists, +6 rating
Hughes has been filling the scoresheet as of late, and last week was no exception. The Orlando, FL native dished out five assists in Team USA's win over Youngstown last Monday before scoring a goal and adding two more assists on Friday night in a 7-6 win in Cedar Rapids. He followed those performances up with his second goal and eighth assist of the week, including the game-winning tally with just 51 seconds remaining, as the U18s picked up a 4-3 comeback win in Chicago on Saturday night. The 16-year-old forward has taken the USHL by storm this season, as he leads all Team USA players with 27 points (6G, 21A) in only 14 games, far and away the league leader in points/game (1.97). He is currently on a five-game point streak, with 12 points (3G, 9A) in that span, and is second among all USHL rookies in scoring, just four points behind rookie scoring leader Matej Pekar despite having played 18 fewer games. The uncommitted forward is considered a top prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft.
Defenseman: Graham Lillibridge - Chicago Steel
2 GP: 0 goals, 3 assists, +4 rating
Lillibridge assisted on a Blake McLaughlin power play goal in Chicago's 6-2 win over Muskegon on Friday before dishing out two more helpers against Team USA's U18 team on Saturday. The Yale commit continues to be one of the top blueliners in the USHL, as he remains the league leader in scoring among defensemen with 26 points (3G, 23A) through 27 games. He also leads all defensemen with those 23 assists and is the only blueliner to amass at least 20 helpers so far this year. He is also sporting a three-game point streak dating back to Jan. 14, with six assists in those contests. Lillibridge is in his third USHL season, spending 2015-16 with the Muskegon Lumberjacks before joining Chicago and helping the Steel to the Clark Cup championship in 2016-17. The Geneva, IL native has 66 points (8G, 58A) in 133 career games and played for the Chicago Mission (HPHL) prior to his time in the USHL.
Goaltender: Matt Jurusik - Sioux City Musketeers
2-0-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .978 SV%
Jurusik was outstanding in his pair of starts over the weekend. He stopped 34 shots on Friday and a remarkable 53 shots on Saturday, allowing just one goals in both starts, to lead Sioux City to a weekend sweep of the Fargo Force. He has now won eight of his last 10 starts dating back to Dec. 15 and currently sports a record of 12-10-3-1, a 2.57 GAA and .915 SV%. His GAA sits just outside the top-10 in the league, while his SV% places him in a tie for eighth among all USHL goaltenders, despite facing at least 30 shots in each of his last eight starts. The Chicago, IL native is in his first season in the USHL after spending the last two years at the University of Wisconsin. He has also played for the Janesville Jets (NAHL), where he recorded the NAHL's best GAA and SV% during the 2013-14 season, Cleveland Barons (T1EHL) and Chicago Fury (T1EHL).
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 16th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2017-18. 30 or more players from the USHL have been selected in five consecutive NHL Drafts, and more than 400 players on team rosters last season committed to NCAA Division I schools, further establishing the USHL as the world’s foremost producer of junior hockey talent.
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