WSHL Player Advancement Reaches New Heights
Edited June 24, 2019
The Western States Hockey League has reached new heights when it comes to player advancement. The goal of the WSHL is to develop its athletes into a product that can perform at the next level. A player who buys into the developmental aspect of their game can certainly put themselves in the position to get noticed, especially those who return for multiple years.
There was a significant presence of 2018-2019 roster players with WSHL experience playing at higher levels or internationally. Dozens of players represent their countries at tournaments such as the World Junior Championships. The WSHL featured players from 25 different countries, last season.
Furthermore, the attention from college scouts is certainly growing with more and more WSHLers making college rosters. Going to college is priority to some while other WSHL alumni have seen professional contracts in the United States and Europe alike.
A total of nine alumni suited up for NCAA D-I schools in 2018-2019, including the aforementioned Spodniak. In total, over 120+ alumni are playing at the NCAA D-III level, while hundreds more have moved on to play ACHA I-III. Regardless of division, these alumni are getting the opportunity to receive a quality education, while also continuing the sport they love at a higher level.
Some players place education as a priority, and take the college route, others want to reach the end-goal as soon as possible. Often times, the end-goal implies being a professional hockey player. 2018-2019 saw 60 WSHL alumni playing professionally in North America. The breakdown was 4 in the ECHL, 25 in the SPHL, and 31 in the FHL. Worldwide, that number skyrockets into the hundreds, as WSHL alumni flood rosters in countries such as Sweden, Czech Republic, and even Australia.
Three multi-year players from three different WSHL teams have exemplified the direction in which the WSHL is headed, as far as player advancement.
Chris Seto (Spartans/KHL)
Seto played in the WSHL for two seasons with the Southern Oregon Spartans, where he lit the lamp regularly. In both seasons, Seto surpassed the 100-point mark and earned special distinction in a few categories for the Spartans. He is the franchise's All-Time Leader in Points (212), Goals (116), and Assists (96).
Seto made his debut for Kunlun Red Star, of the KHL, and scored his first goal versus Salavat Yulaev, on Jan. 8, 2019. He has 19 games in the "K" under his belt. Seto has seen the majority of his ice time with their VHL affiliate, KRS-ORG Beijing, tallying a stat line of 36GP-18G-10A-28Pts. The KHL, or Kontinental Hockey League, is widely-regarded as the 2nd best professional league in the world, after the NHL, and features players such as Pavel Datsyuk and Nikita Gusev.
"He has successfully added to our roster as he was ready for our game and our system," said Team President Raitis Pilsetnieks
Spodniak became the first player in WSHL history to make the direct jump to an NCAA D-I roster. He played three seasons for the Mustangs, where he vividly remembers making first contact with American International College at the WSHL Annual Showcase, in Las Vegas. Spodniak’s production crept up season-by-season, going from 53 to 89 to 146-points in his third season.
The Slovakian native enjoyed a fruitful first year with AIC, as they won both the regular season and conference titles in Atlantic Hockey. His first goal came in his fourth game, versus Army, in Game 2 of the Atlantic Hockey Tournament Finals. Eventually, his side went on to upset the No. 1 seeded St. Cloud State University, in the first round of the West Regional Championships.
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A huge congrats to former Mustang @spodky24 on his first career NCAA Division I goal, coming in the Atlantic Hockey Championship Tournament for @aic_hockey last weekend. Matus is the first player to go directly from the WSHL to Division I hockey and score a goal. #OMHockey #StangsFam #WSHLAlumni
Chaseton Sare (Rhinos/USHL)
Sare dressed for the El Paso Rhinos for the span of two full seasons. His second season was one to remember, as the Rhinos won the Thorne Cup, in 2018. Sare has a couple distinctions, himself, as the Rhinos’ All-Time Leader in Goals, with 105, and the All-Time Leader in Points, with 211.
He surpassed the 100-point mark in his first year, and almost replicated the mark in his second year (96Pts.), and then was called up by the Central Illinois Flying Aces of the United States Hockey League, six games into his third WSHL season. Sare never looked back, playing 31 games and recording 2 assists, in the USHL. He earned his first career USHL point against the Youngstown Phantoms, in November of 2018, with an assist.
Find the complete list of alumni at: