Gophers recruit Howe named USHL Player of the Year

Mike Howe of the River City Lancers led the USHL in scoring this year, and that was part of the numerous reasons the Gophers signee was honored when the Tier I developmental league announced its year-end honors. Also receiving honors were teammate and fellow Gopher recruit Evan Kauffman, as well as future Gopher Derek Peltier of Cedar Rapids.

The well certainly isn't dry at the University of Minnesota. Even though the Gophers came up short in their quest for a threepeat, and will likely lose Thomas Vanek to professional hockey, the future still remains bright for the state's favorite hockey team.

Tuesday afternoon, the United States Hockey League (USHL) announced that River City Lancers forward Mike Howe has been named the league's Player of the Year, presented by Let's Play Hockey.

A Minnesota native, Howe was the USHL's leading scorer in 2003-04. In 56 games played, the University of Minnesota recruit scored 36 goals and had 42 assists for 78 points.

"Mike has earned the honor," said USHL President Gino Gasparini. "He has accomplished much during his time in the league and he's got a terrific future ahead of him."

In addition to collecting Player of the Year honors, Howe was also named the USHL's Top Forward, presented by The Hockey Company, and selected First Team All-USHL.

A St. Cloud Apollo High School product, Howe burst onto the USHL scene with a 42-point rookie campaign last season. He entered the current campaign as the Lancers' leading goal scorer. His 1.11 career points-per-game average ranks among the league's very best over a two-year span.

"One of the great things about the USHL postseason awards are that they are given to the opposing players that league's coaches and general managers like to play against the least," said River City head coach and general manager Mike Hastings. "And that's Mike Howe. He doesn't need a lot of time or space to put the puck in a real small area. There aren't many players who play two seasons in the USHL and score 60-plus goals."

Howe will join last season's USHL Player of the Year, Ryan Potulny, at the University of Minnesota in the fall.

"Mike is gifted and talented, but what really separates him is his ability to finish," said Hastings. "He has one of the best sticks I've ever coached. And he was our captain. He accepted blame well and deflected praise to his teammates. His entire maturation process in the USHL says a lot about the type of person he is."

Howe was joined as a 2003-04 USHL Award Winner by the following standouts:

Top Defenseman - Mike Hodgson, Sioux City Musketeers

Top Goaltender - Phillippe Lamoureux, Lincoln Stars

Rookie of the Year - Matt Ford, Sioux Falls Stampede

Curt Hammer Award - Topher Scott, Chicago Steel

Coach of the Year - Wil Nichol, Chicago Steel

General Manager of the Year - Bliss Littler, Tri-City Storm

Organization of the Year - Tri-City Storm

First Team All-USHL Selections (Gophers Recruits in Bold)

Forward - Mike Howe, River City Lancers

Forward - Paul Stastny, River City Lancers

Forward - Matt Ford, Sioux Falls Stampede

Defense - Derek Peltier, Cedar Rapids RoughRiders

Defense - Mike Hodgson, Sioux City Musketeers

Goaltender - Phillippe Lamoureux, Lincoln Stars

Second Team All-USHL Selections

Forward - Bill Thomas, Tri-City Storm

Forward - Mike Erickson, Des Moines Buccaneers (Former Minnesota Gopher)

Forward - Rastislav Spirko, Tri-City Storm

Defense - Johann Kroll, Sioux City Musketeers

Defense - Kyle Klubertanz, Green Bay Gamblers

Goaltender - Jeff Lerg, River City Lancers

USHL All-Rookie Team

Forward - Matt Ford, Sioux Falls Stampede

Forward - Nate Dey, Green Bay Gamblers

Forward - Evan Kaufmann, River City Lancers

Defense - Brett Motherwell, River City Lancers

Defense - Jake Obermeyer, Tri-City Storm

Goaltender - Jeff Lerg, River City Lancers

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