With the close of the 2006-07 season, the United States Hockey League has announced its award winners for the year. Coaches of respective teams nominated players for the awards and then the coaches voted to select the winners. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.
Several incoming Michigan college players took home USHL honors:
Max Pacioretty - Sioux City Musketeers
Official Game Puck USHL Rookie of the Year
Early in the season, Sioux City had the league's highest scoring line. The line featured veterans Phil DeSimone and Blake Martin. The newcomer to the line was power forward Max Pacioretty. A big player (6-2, 205 pounds), Pacioretty used his size and skills to stay in the top ten in scoring for the majority of the season. He finished the season with 21 goals and 42 assists for 63 points in 60 games.
"He's had a big impact as a first year player. He's a guy that you worry about every time he's on the ice," said Omaha head coach Mike Hastings. "It usually takes a while for a kid to learn that you have to shoot the puck in this league to score, but he learned it right away. That, along with his ability to create his own shot makes him dangerous.
"His strength, hand skills and tenacity separates him from the rest. He has a great head for the game as well. That whole line is good, but you take a kid like him and put him next to a guy like DeSimone and it becomes just lethal."
Pacioretty is committed to the University of Michigan.
Jeff Petry - Des Moines Buccaneers
ProGuard USHL Defenseman of the Year
Petry, a second round draft choice of the Edmonton Oilers a year ago, was a stalwart both offensively and defensively on the Buccaneers blue line. Petry tripled his offensive output from his rookie season, scoring 18 goals and adding 27 assists for 45 points. He was fourth in the league in power play goals with 15 and was fourth in scoring among defensemen. His 18 goals led all USHL defensemen and he became one of the leaders for Des Moines, who needed him in that role to offset the loss of key players from last season's national champion.
"Jeff Petry is a very quality defenseman and has set a standard in this league for how a defenseman should play," said Waterloo head coach P.K. O'Handley. "He is very talented and will have a nice career ahead of him."
Petry is committed to national champion Michigan State University.
Drew Palmisano - Omaha Lancers
Stauber's Goalcrease USHL Goaltender of the Year
After starting the season with a struggling Ohio club (he went 1-6-3 in 11 games for the expansion Jr. Blue Jackets), Palmisano saw his fortunes change with a December trade to Omaha. Omaha had struggled equally in the early going, but their season turned around when Palmisano arrived. He's 19-4-2 in 25 games with the Lancers with a 2.72 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. The Lancers are 29-6-3 since Palmisano joined the team.
"Drew was the top Michigan AAA goalie last year. He was rewarded by being one of the players that the Ohio franchise had signed to a tender in order to build their new franchise last spring," said Chicago general manager Jason Koehler. "Shortly after the trade he helped solidify the shaky Lancer goaltending situation and put them back in the hunt for the Western Division title."
Palmisano is committed to national champion Michigan State University.
Zach Redmond - Sioux Falls Stampede
USHL Curt Hammer Award
The Curt Hammer Award is given annually to the player who distinguishes himself in the USHL as the most gentlemanly player, both on and off the ice. He demonstrates outstanding performance skills, pride and determination. The award goes to the individual who best reflects the goals of the USHL, his team and the organization. His performance reflects a desire to achieve success all within the established rules of the USHL and the accepted bounds of courteous conduct.
"In my eight years of coaching in the USHL, I have not had a player more deserving of this recognition," said Sioux Falls head coach Kevin Hartzell. "Zach came to Sioux Falls two years ago heralded as one of the top defensemen in midget hockey, but a series of health issues took an entire summer away from his preparation before he arrived. He struggled for a great part of his first season, often finding himself a healthy scratch, but continued to remain patient and hard working and continued on a slow but steady path of improvement. It took him until half way through his second season to 'arrive,' but has done so in a big way. He is a fine testament to what a young man can accomplish with his time in the USHL if he is patient and committed to developing his game."
Redmond is committed to Ferris State University.