Western Division Rookies

by Steven Force

It usually takes some time for a player to get used to the speed, skill and physicality of junior hockey.  However, for some rookies in the Western Division, they’ve handled the transition quite well.  It’s been about two months since the season began; giving these rookies the chance to show that it’s not just a fast start, but rather they’re proving to be integral to their team’s success.

Daylon Mannon – Fresno Monsters

Mannon, at just 18-years-old, leads the Monsters in points through the team’s first 12 games of the year.  In those 12 games, the Fresno rookie has 18 goals and 16 assists.  Those 34 points puts him tied for 7th in the league in scoring with Miroslav Rohlik of the Long Beach Bombers.  If you look at his per game stats, he’s even higher on the leaderboard.  His 2.83 points-per-game are 5th in the league.  His production so far this season is just slightly below that of Valencia’s Jakob Kranabetter, who currently sits 2nd all-time in scoring in league history. 

Before joining the Monsters this season, Mannon had played for the California Titans in NAPHL 16U and Los Angeles Jr. Kings in T1EHL U18.  Now he’s playing for his hometown team in Fresno, and is on pace for a 145 point season.  While that pace may be difficult to keep up, Mannon is definitely enjoying life in the WSHL so far.

Artem Korolev – Long Beach Bombers

The 17-year-old forward doesn’t lead his team in points, but is tied for 4th on the team through their first 16 games.  He’s had a few big games for the Bombers in his first full season of junior hockey, including a five-point (2G, 3A) performance against San Diego on October 21.  Before coming to the Bombers this offseason, Korolev played for Spartak Moskva in Russia.  He also played one game with the Topeka Roadrunners of the NAHL. 

According to the Long Beach Bombers’ press release when they announced the signing of Korolev, the recruitment process was a team effort.  Long Beach Head Coach Chris White had some help from defenseman and captain Amir Burguev with the recruiting.  Burguev was quoted, “Artem has good potential and will probably play with good players.  I think he will make a lot of improvement and learn some things.”  It’s safe to say that Burguev was right.  Korolev has shown to be one of the best young players in the Western Division so far this season.

Anthony Masanotti – Phoenix Knights

Masanotti, at 19-years-old, is older than both Mannon and Korolev, but is also in his first year of junior hockey.  Through his first 18 games, Masanotti has 13 goals and 5 assists, making him the leading scorer and goal-scorer on the team.  He’s had five multi-point games this season, including two hat-tricks.  Masanotti has scored nearly a third of his team’s goals this season, and been a part of almost of their goals. 

Prior to coming to the Knights this season, Masanotti played for the DYHA U18 AA Jr. Sun Devils program in Tempe, Arizona.  Last season, he helped his team to a 3rd place finish at USA Hockey’s U18 Tier 2 2A National Championships.

Which rookies do you think have stood out in the Western Division so far this season?  Let me know on Twitter @Steven_Force_