Matias Maccelli has served as a model of consistency throughout his first full season in the United States Hockey League, and the players in the Dubuque Fighting Saints’ locker room took notice.
Maccelli’s teammates selected Dubuque’s leading scorer as their Most Valuable Player, the team announced Wednesday.
“The biggest thing is I’m a lot more used to the lifestyle in North America this year and I’m a lot more used to the style of play here,” said Maccelli, a native of Turku, Finland, who joined the Saints in the middle of last season. “My teammates have been awesome in supporting me every day.
“I just try to give my best every day and see what happens. If you work hard in practice every day, good things will happen.”
Maccelli leads the Saints in scoring with 30 goals and 71 points, good enough for third on the USHL scoring chart. With one point in the final two games, a home-and-home series with Waterloo this weekend, Maccelli will match Johnny Gaudreau for the second-highest point player by a Dubuque player in the USHL Tier I level (2010-present). Mike Szmatula set the mark with 37 goals and 76 points in 63 games in 2012-13.
With one point, Maccelli can also tie Erik Haula for the most points by a European player in the USHL’s Tier I era. Haula, who now plays for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, tallied 28 goals and 72 points in 56 games for the Omaha Lancers in 2009-10.
A year ago, Maccelli contributed eight goals and 21 points in 36 games. He went from a minus-3 rating a year ago to a plus-9 this season.
Twin brothers Dylan and Ty Jackson shared the Saints’ rookie of the year award, given to the player born after 2000 and with fewer than 10 USHL games played prior to this season. Dylan Jackson enters the final weekend with 13 goals and 43 points, while Ty has 14 goals and 39 points. Both have played in all 60 games to date.
Ty Jackson also landed the Joanne Gibson Academic Award, named in honor of the team’s academic advisor, for his success on the ice and in the classroom.
Riese Gaber, who ranks second in team scoring with 49 points, received the Coaches Award, which goes to the player that best exemplifies what it means to be a Fighting Saint both on and off the ice.
Logan Pietila and Jacob Semik shared the Bill Snook Community Award, which goes to the player or players who represent the Saints off the ice and in the community to the highest degree. Semik and Pietila regularly engage in Saints team events in the community and, every Wednesday, they volunteered at local elementary schools as part of St. Mark’s Youth Enrichment program.