Dan K Show Highlighter Players – 2021 USPHL Detroit Showcase

What is a highlighter player you make ask? Simply put, these players listed below are athletes that stand out beyond the stat sheet, put in the extra effort and stand out for all the right reasons on ice level.  The below won’t always be your league leader, your point-getter or even the skater with the “C” on their chest; but these are the select skaters you want on your team. 

At The Dan K Show, we pride ourselves on our ability to help scouts throughout the country find their diamond in the rough; we hope this segment will do just that.  If you think you or someone you know is a Highlighter Player, reach out a www.dankshow.com/contact.


Cincinnati Junior Cyclones

Drake Barnish (2001) – RW – 20 G, 20 A, 40 PTS

This Drake has more hits than Aubrey Graham (Inside joke for fellow Drake/Degrassi fans).  Barnish is an early front-runner for The Dan K Show’s first-ever Player of the Year Award in the USPHL Premier as he currently leads all of #USPHLNation in points (40), goals (20) and Powerplay Assists (8).  In addition to his season success, Barnish is also tied for the all-time USPHL record for Junior games played, with Metro Jets superstar Nick Ceccarini (stay tuned for his write-up later). 

This veteran plays a leadership role for his Cyclones side that is unrivalled.  Having played for the impeccable Brett Wall (Hudson Havoc) and now Head Coach Jim Mitchell with the Junior Cyclones, Barnish has been raised up through the hockey ranks with a winning mentality.  Barnish, is prepared to take any NCAA squad to immediate supremacy.  Scouts need to hit Drake up on his cell phone today.

Brendan Walk (2001) – C – 8 G, 12 A, 20 PTS

Surpassing the 100-career point mark this past weekend in Detroit, scouts should be running to lock Brendan in with next season’s squad.  The undersized centerman is willing to do what it takes to win at any level of the game.  Size is not a disadvantage for Walk as he continues to show the ability to use leverage, speed and skill to score greasy goals, win board battles and dominate the game on both ends.  Walk is a must-scout skater in the USPHL the rest of the year.

Metro Jets

Nick Ceccarini (2001) – RW – 4 G, 11 A, 15 PTS

Tied with Drake Barnish for the most-USPHL games played all-time, Nick Ceccarini is the embodiment of a workhorse forward.  This young man always stands out on the ice on both ends, willing to backcheck to make the big defensive stop, while maintaining the skill-set to score the puck on the other end.  Ceccarini has 4 goals this season, half of those have won his Jets a game.

This “New York tough” right winger is a must-add to any team at the next level looking for depth at the forward position.

Patrick Hays (2001) – LD – 1 G, 7 A, 8 PTS

Very few skaters can and are willing to make the move from forward to defenseman in their age-out season, but Patrick Hays has done just that.  The success he has found at the blue line this season has been nothing short immaculate.  Hays is willing to do what it takes to win, and with his new position on the ice, has shown some Keith Yandle potential on special teams and at even strength.  For a scout/coach in need of a “Swiss Army Knife” next season and beyond, Patty Hays is your guy!


“I Am” Will Augustine (2001), Louis-Pierre “The French Wall” Fortier (2001) and Daniel “Misbehaving” Miscavish (2001) have combined this season to go 12-0-0-0 with a 1.65 GAA and a .921 Saves Percentage.  It is unrealistic what this Metro Jets organization has been able to do between the pipes with the help of goalie guru Randy Wilson and the entire Jets staff.  At this point, if I am an NCAA DIII scout and I don’t end up with one of these three netminders, I have flat-out failed.  These three are MUST HAVES this recruiting cycle.

Toledo Cherokee

Bailey Byrd (2001) – RW – 8 G, 8 A, 16 PTS

Nelly Furtado was like a bird who always flew away (Editor’s Note: Dan, literally no one gets this reference…), but Bailey Byrd is like a goal scoring hawk screeching down on netminders league-wide!  At 6’0” tall, Byrd breaks the trend of undersized forwards in this week’s Highlighter Players, providing scouts with a sizable option at the right wing position.  In Detroit this past weekend, Byrd surpassed the 154 career USPHL point mark. The biggest stat line that stands out to me this year is the PIM category.  In 10 games played Byrd has just seen the penalty box for 4 total minutes, showing an incredible improvement in his age-out season.  His 7 career short-handed scores and 16 power play goals show an ability to play on both ends of special teams with success.  This year, 4 of Byrd’s 8 goals have won Toledo a hockey game, an incredible mark.  Byrd can come into town and lead your squad today, get on the phone hockey coaches/scouts!

David Crandall (2002) – D – 1 G, 8 A, 9 PTS

Crandall is an absolute leader at the blue line for this Cherokee side.  The 5’10” defenseman mixes good hands, with grit and determination to help guide him through each and every game.  Crandall can find some “Adam Fox-ian” trickery when needed to evade the forecheck, allowing him to be a vital piece to any collegiate squad’s back-end.  Crandall is ready, today, to take a team to the next level in the collegiate ranks.


Freddy Soderberg (2002) – G – 4-1-0-0, 0.80 GAA, .972 Saves Percentage, 3 Shutouts

This Freddy is causing more nightmares for USPHL skaters than Krueger! The kid has been absolutely unbelievable for the Metro Jets Development program, allowing just 4 goals on 141 shots faced.  The young netminder is a world leader in nearly every category available to goaltenders in #USPHLNation, serving as an early favorite for The Dan K Show’s first-ever USPHL Premier Goaltender of the Year Award.  Currently, there are zero glaring weaknesses in the play of Soderberg between the pipes.  Working with the Metro coaching staff, this young man is yet another must-get Michigander goalie from the Jets.

Pittsburgh Vengeance

Brady Talaski (2004) – D – 0 G, 2 A, 2 PTS

Born on April Fools Day in 2004, this super-young defenseman is no joke.  Talaski is another Dan K Futures Pick here, with skill and speed to match with a 6’1” frame that still has room to add.  Working with a hardnosed Vengeance squad, slightly short on the bench at the moment, Talaski will get a multitude of opportunities for ice-time early in his Junior career.  Scouts who make early contact with Talaski will certainly reap the benefits a few years down the road.  Talaski looks to be on the Doughty/Letang route as reliable defensemen with longevity in the game.  The future for this young defenseman is as bright as he wants it to be.

Nick Tessier (2002) – RW – 10 G, 6 A, 16 PTS

There is literally nothing bad to say about Nick Tessier’s game right now.  This right winger surpassed the 50 career USPHL point mark this past weekend and continues to be a breakout star for the Pittsburgh Vengeance.  He looks to be the focal point of Pittsburgh’s offense this season, but can still take on the deep line physical role if necessary.  Tessier is a must-watch the rest of the way.

Motor City Hockey Club

Demian Tychenko (2004) – LW – 10 G, 5 A, 15 PTS

Try as hard as you like; there is literally no way to stop Demian Tychenko from scoring the puck.  This ‘04 already has a seasoned offensive game, with the ability to score in multiple ways.  He is like Batman with his utility tool belts: bouncing off walls, throwing “batter-angs” and hang-gliding to the net to score.  This youngster is a guaranteed 150+ USPHL point career guy if he continues on this route in Motor City.

Chicago Cougars

Jack Parks (2001) – RD – 4 G, 1 A, 5 PTS

Parks celebrated his birthday during the USPHL Detroit Showcase and now The Dan K Show celebrates his talent on ice.  At 5’11” 190, Parks plays the game more like 6’3” 220.  He is physical along the boards, can shut down the forecheck and clears the net-mouth better than anyone.  Chicago will lean heavily on the 2001 birthyear to lead their blueline and carry them to the postseason.

Jacob McDonald (2001) – C – 4 G, 6 A, 10 PTS

If this McDonald had a farm it would be filled with goal-scoring opportunities and silky mitts.  This might be one of the most skilled puck-handlers in the USPHL Premier.  Moving to the Windy City from the City of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia Hockey Club), McDonald has now been a Dan K Show favorite for multiple years.  This is a score-happy third line centerman at the NCAA level, guaranteed.

Michael Lenhart (2001) – G – 3-1-0-1, 2.97 GAA, .920 Saves Percentage

You cannot go wrong with Cougars netminding as a scout right now, whether it be Ian Young or the great Michael Lenhart.  For me, Lenhart’s length and size at 6’2” allow him to take up more space between the pipes while playing a smooth, quiet game in net.  Lenhart can remove a lot of the headaches that come with high-shot totals allowed at the next level.  If I am a collegiate coach trying to rebuild my squad, Lenhart is a young man I have to get.

Detroit Fighting Irish

Shane Romback (2001) – D – 2 G, 3 A, 5 PTS

Coach Shaheen found an absolute beauty in defenseman Shane Romback.  This 6’4” monster at the blue line can easily devour 25 to 30 minutes on ice a night.  There is nothing Romback cannot do for a squad, and letting him lead the boys off the bus will be a fear-inducing sight for any college squad at the next level.  Romback will surpass the 50-career USPHL point total soon.  Do not let this hidden Detroit gem sneak past you this recruiting season.  This dude is ready to go!

Midwest Blackbirds

Rylee Luebbers (2003) – C – 3 G, 0 A, 3 PTS

Luebbers is another Dan K Futures Pick, but this one more from the speculative market.  Watching Rylee through the start of this season his game continues to get better each time on ice.  That is a testament to his work-ethic and the great work of newly-minted Blackbirds head coach Tom Philbin.  Keep an eye on Luebbers growth throughout the years.  With the right playmakers around him, this guy is a future double-digit goal/assist guy at any level of the game.

Wooster Oilers

Aidan Dempsey (2002) – D – 3 G, 1 A, 4 PTS

With the last name of a prized fighter, Dempsey packs a real punch from the blue line on both ends of the ice.  This guy has Hollywood hands mixed with the physicality and blue collar mentality the local Wooster fans have grown to love.  Dempsey is a depth defenseman at the next level who can gel with any squad, anywhere.

Columbus Mavericks

Tyler Isherwood (2004) – C – 6 G, 7 A, 13 PTS

Every scout in the US knows just how good Ethan Bishara is at this point, but what about this young centerman?  In his first season with the Mavericks the 2004 birthyear has a point in all but three Columbus games to start the season.  He is skilled, strong in the face-off circle, and has had no issues battling the older athletes throughout the Junior game.  Isherwood has a huge future ahead of him.

Nik Jozefiak (2002) – LD – 6 G, 6 A, 12 PTS

In just 12 games this season, Jozefiak has already tied his season point total in 44 games last year.  This young man put in the necessary work throughout the offseason and has reaped the benefits thus far in the 2021-2022 campaign.  Jozefiak is a great locker room guy and continues to find success in Columbus.  He has cemented himself as a Power Play superstar with his three powerplay goals and will continue to be a must recruit for scouts nationwide this season.

Lake Erie Bighorns

Jayden Balcarcyzk (2003) – RW – 5 G, 4 A, 9 PTS

Try to follow Jayden around the ice, and you’ll end up a bit “car sick” (Editors Note: Just another name pun. Nothing to see here folks, please move along) as this 5’9” winger is an absolute speedster.  With or without the puck, Balcarcyzk is troublesome to deal with all game long.  As Lake Erie continues to grow under Coach Ramm, skaters like Jayden will play a huge role in the organization’s growth and success.  Keep an eye on this ’03 in Lake Erie; big things to come.

Fort Wayne Spacemen

Austin Buck (2001) – D – 3 G, 8 A, 11 PTS

At 6’3” 200 pounds it is easy to understand why Buck is a must-have on your blue line.  The large defender will make skaters think twice about the forecheck, taking on board battles, or skating with their head down at any moment.  Buck has skaters looking like deer in headlights when he gets a head of steam.  With 3 goals and 8 assists, the big guy can also get involved offensively when called upon.  If I am looking for an offensive-minded defenseman with the ability to hit, I’m calling the Spacemen.

Decatur Blaze

Dominick Didzerekis (2002) – LW – 3 G, 4 A, 7 PTS

This guy just battles game in and game out.  Didzerekis is a 6’3” winger who has a “never give in” mentality for coach Zac Pearson and his Blaze.  This season will be a big opportunity for Dominick to add some more skill and speed to go with his size.  The work put in off the ice could help this young skater leap into the minds of scouts nationwide.  With 46 career USPHL points, Didzerekis is a proven point-getter.

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