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Talented California quintet takes home monthly honors from USPHL



The USPHL has announced that five California products have taken home monthly accolades.

Pueblo Bulls forward Scott Bugarin (Moreno Valley) and Ogden Mustangs forward Jake Meure (Fremont) are Mountain Division Forwards of the Month, while Fresno Monsters defenseman Jacob Gagnon (Reedley) and Lake Tahoe Lakers blueliner Chase Sechrist (Santa Rosa) are Pacific Division Defensemen of the Month and Vernal Oilers netminder Antonio Tarantino (Fremont) is the Northwest Division Goaltender of the Month.

Bugarin, a third-year USPHL vet, has found a comfortable home and role in Pueblo.

He leads the Bulls in scoring, thanks to an 18-point (8-10-18) month in just 13 games. Bugarin did it all for Pueblo in the month of October. He scored two game-winning goals, one of which helped the Bulls to a road win over their archrivals, the Northern Colorado Eagles. His plus-8 rating led the squad and he’s been strong in the faceoff circle too, winning 51 percent of his astounding 222 faceoffs taken.

During his youth hockey days, the 2002-born Bugarin skated for the California Wave and Anaheim Jr. Ducks.

Last year, Meure scored 16 goals in 49 games. The year prior, he had 18 goals in 47 games. Meure had the most prolific scoring month of his distinguished career with a staggering 18 goals and 30 points (18-12-30) in just 13 games during October.

The 2003-born ‘Stang winger had three hat tricks, punctuated by a four-goal night and the game-winner in Ogden’s 6-5 win over Pueblo on Oct. 15. Meure is currently fifth in the USPHL in scoring and carries an 11-game point streak into the month of November.

Meure is a San Jose Jr. Sharks graduate.

It’s Year 3 in the USPHL and Year 3 on the Monsters for Gagnon, who is leading his team in a big way.

Last year, the Fresno captain and 2002 birth year finished sixth in points for the Monsters with 46 and as captain of the Monsters this season, Gagnon is second in points on the team with a total of 24.

He has already scored more than half of his total points from the 2021-22 season. So far, he is plus-19 with 17 assists and seven goals. He has played in 14 of the Monsters’ 15 games so far this season and been a defensive force.

Gagnon played for the Bakersfield Jr. Condors during his youth hockey days.

The 2002-born Sechrist is no stranger to Tahoe as he has been playing there since 2016. He joined the Lakers last year for their inaugural season in the USPHL and is back for Year 2 with them. Last season, he finished with 35 points earning a No. 5 rank.

This season, he has scored more than half of points he earned last year, earning 19 total points, with 10 assists and nine goals, putting him in the No. 1 spot. He has already had a few big games this season scoring five points in a late September game against Ontario and earning four points in an early October game versus Long Beach where they picked up an OT win.

Prior to the Lakers, Sechrist spent time with Tahoe Prep Academy.

Tarantino, another 2002 birth year, owns six of the Oilers’ eight wins so far this year. His .949 save percentage ranks No. 2 in the USPHL versus games played. And his 1.95 goals-against average is ranked eighth.

Tarantino slid east to Vernal after playing for Ogden last year. In a division with plenty of offensive powerhouses, Tarantino has not given up any more than three goals in any game. His two most recent starts on Oct. 16 and 21 both saw 34-save victories.

During his youth hockey career, Tarantino played for the Jr. Sharks and Golden State Elite Eagles.

— Grace Mello, Brendan Price, Jonathan West/

(November 7, 2022)

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