The United States Hockey League announced the Forward, Defenseman and Goaltender of the Week for Week 1 of the 2018-19 season. A pair of Des Moines Buccaneers - forward Matt Brown and defenseman Connor Senken - and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders goaltender Blake Pietila earned the first USHL weekly awards of the season. Brown recorded seven points in two games over the weekend at the Dick's Sporting Goods USHL Fall Classic, including a hat trick and six-point game on Friday. Senken scored a goal in each of Des Moines' games at the Fall Classic and added an assist on Thursday. Pietila helped the RoughRiders to three of a possible four points at the Fall Classic, stopping 51 of the 55 shots he faced in two games. The USHL is America’s only Tier 1 junior hockey league, and continues to lead the world in the advancement of players to Division I college hockey.
Brown dished out an assist on Senken's goal on Thursday to help seal Des Moines' 5-2 victory over the Madison Capitols at the Fall Classic. The UMass-Lowell commit then exploded in the Buccaneer's 10-5 triumph of the Chicago Steel. Brown recorded a hat trick and also added three helpers to get his team off to a 2-0 start to the season. It is a tremendous start to the year for the Woodridge, NJ native, who played in six games with the Dubuque Fighting Saints last season before being acquired by Des Moines in an offseason trade with Chicago, who picked up Brown in the deal that sent J.D. Greenway to Dubuque. In addition to the six games he played last season with Dubuque, Brown recorded 41 points (16G, 25A) in 41 games with the NAHL's Odessa Jackalopes. Prior to his junior hockey career, Brown played for the New Jersey Rockets (EHL) and was named the 2016-17 EHL Rookie of the Year.
Senken scored a goal and added an assist in Des Moines' Thursday win over the Madison Capitols. He then recorded his second goal of the weekend in the Buccaneers 10-5 doubling up of the Chicago Steel on Friday. The Long Island, NY native also finished with a +3 rating after his team's pair of games at the Fall Classic, giving him a great start to his USHL career. Before his time in the nation's only Tier 1 junior hockey league, Senken spent two seasons in the QMJHL, first with the Moncton Wildcats in 2016-17 and then with the Sherbrooke Phoenix in 2017-18. He was added to Des Moines' roster on Sept. 16.
Pietila had the most consistent, productive weekend of any USHL goaltender during the first weekend of the regular season. He stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced on Thursday to help Cedar Rapids earn a point in their overtime loss to Fargo on Thursday. He was even better on Friday against the Lincoln Stars, making 28 saves on 29 shots to get the RoughRiders their first victory of the season and propel them to three of a possible four points over the weekend. This could be the start of a big year for the Michigan Tech commit, who played in 32 games with Cedar Rapids a year ago, finishing with a 3.03 GAA and .903 SV%. Pietila played for Little Caesars and Compuware prior to his time in the USHL.
Photo by Hickling Images
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