As one of the youngest players in the U.S. Hockey League, the country’s top junior circuit, Anchorage’s Mac Swanson faced a formidable challenge in his rookie season with the Fargo Force.
He’s passed the test, in a big way.
The 17-year-old – he was 16 at season’s start – this week was voted by league general managers to the All-Rookie Team after racking 12-43—55 totals in 57 games. That led league rookies in assists and ranked him fifth overall in assists. Swanson, who tied for fourth in rookie points, also furnished a plus-27 rating that tied for eighth in the league. His 20 power-play points – four goals, 16 helpers – ranked third among rookies.
Swanson, who is naturally a center, skates left wing on Fargo’s top line, which features center Cole Knuble (30-36—66 totals in 57 games) and right wing Bret Link (26-29—55 in 61 games) of Anchorage. They were the club’s top three scorers in the regular season and spearheaded Fargo’s charge to a 40-14-8 record and the Anderson Cup as regular-season champs.
Fargo, which swept Tri-City in the best-of-3 Western Conference semis behind two assists from Swanson, next faces Lincoln in the best-of-5 conference finals.
Swanson is committed to the University of North Dakota.
His All-Rookie selection came 29 years after his dad, Brian, the former NHL center, was a First-Team All-USHL pick after racking 38-42—80 totals in 48 games for the Omaha Lancers, who won the Clark Cup as playoff champions. That Lancers team included eight Alaskans – Swanson; forwards Justin Lyle and Nathan Rocheleau of Anchorage; defensemen Ken Hemenway, Tom Kowal and Sean Bowman of Anchorage, and defenseman Eric Runyan of Eagle River; and goaltender Chris Marvel of Eagle River. That team also included forwards Jeff Edwards and Klage Kaebel, who went on to play at UAA.
While we’re musing USHL history – Alaska connections on the circuit date back 40 years – special shout-out to Steve MacSwain of Anchorage. In 1983, MacSwain was merely the league’s Player of the Year, Forward of the Year and Rookie of the Year for the Dubuque Fighting Saints after leading the league in scoring with 60-62—122 totals in, gulp, just 48 games. Teammates Kory Wright (102 points) and Joey Hayse (84 points), both of Anchorage, finished second and fourth, respectively, in league scoring.
Another Alaskan, forward Chris Fournier of Anchorage, was the USHL’s Player of the Year and Forward of the Year in 2001, when he led the league in scoring with 26-57—83 totals in 55 games for the Lincoln Stars.