Former Deerfield student and varsity ice hockey goalie Casey DeSmith decided last year to take an opportunity to play in the United States Hockey League, which some people consider to be the United State’s premier junior league for players under twenty.
He plays with the Indiana Ice, last year’s winner of the Clark Cup, the trophy awarded to the top team in the USHL.
The team currently has the second best record in their division with 19 wins, 12 losses, and 1 overtime loss. DeSmith and his team are looking to finish the season strongly and perform well in the playoffs.
“My team feels extremely optimistic about bringing the Clark Cup back to Indy [Indiana] this year,” DeSmith said. “We are pulling away from the third place team in our division while on a five-game winning streak. The confidence in the locker room is high.”
During the Indiana Ice’s recent five-game winning streak, DeSmith played in four games. In those games, he averaged only 2.5 goals against per game and saved 91.5% of the shots he faced. These statistics are considered strong for a goaltender at any level.
The Indiana Ice’s winning streak was snapped by none other than the Lincoln Stars—the team of DeSmith’s former Deerfield teammate, Andrew Ammon ’09. The Stars won 5-1 and Ammon recorded a hat-trick. DeSmith, however, did not play in this game and the two former Deerfield students have yet to face each other.
On the season, DeSmith has played in 18 of his team’s 39 games. In those games he has 8 wins, 8 losses, and 1 overtime loss. His goals against average is 3.14 and his save percentage is 89.9%.
As a player in the USHL, DeSmith is playing high caliber hockey. The top junior league in the United States attracts some of the world’s best young players.
“The level of play is astounding compared to anywhere that I previously participated in. A vast majority of players are going to play at the top Division I schools and many are drafted [by the National Hockey League]” said DeSmith. “I am getting better each day, playing and practicing against the great competition.”
In fact, 111 former USHL players currently play in the National Hockey League (the elite professional ice hockey league) and 186 current USHL players have already committed to NCAA Division I colleges.
“My goal is to play Division I college hockey while getting an education,” said DeSmith. “If I am fortunate enough to go further than that in hockey that would be amazing.”
However, amongst the speed, skill, and future expectations of the league, DeSmith has still maintained his love for the game and enjoyed his time in the USHL.
“Beating the Chicago Steel at Conseco Fieldhouse [the home arena of the Ice, and NBA team Indiana Pacers] in front of 7000 people on New Year’s Eve,” said DeSmith when asked about his most memorable moment. “That was the most fun I have ever had playing hockey.”