Tri-City's Trevor Connelly continues to impress in his first USHL season
From roller hockey in California to an 18-game point streak in the USHL, Tri-City's Connelly has blossomed into one of the USHL's youngest and biggest offensive threats
KEARNEY, Neb. — Trevor Connelly grew up with a mini stick in his hands and got his start playing roller hockey in northern California.
It’s where he first discovered his passion for the game and developed the skills and speed that make Connelly one of the most promising young forwards in the USHL.
“His skating and his explosiveness is as good as I’ve seen at this level,” Tri-City head coach Anthony Noreen said. “The only other guy that comes to mind at that age is Kyle Connor, but Trevor’s skating is a difference-maker every single shift.
“He’s got a really good set of hands too and can fire the puck, and he’s a guy that wants the puck on his stick. Trevor’s got an attack mentality, he’s got the tenacity and he’s not afraid to battle. He always wants to make a play.”
After a slow start to his rookie season, Connelly has turned into one of Tri-City’s biggest offensive threats.
The Providence commit has 22 goals and 45 points in 54 games this season, which rank second and third on Tri-City’s roster. Connelly has racked up 30 points (16-14-30) over his last 20 games, which includes a franchise-record 18-game point streak in that stretch.
Connelly’s point streak is also the longest in the USHL this season and his confidence is growing by the game.
“It was definitely a tougher start and not the start I would’ve liked, but I think my mindset was just keep working and the points will come,” Connelly said. “Obviously it’s a much faster game and every single kid on every team is good and has skill, so it took me a little bit to figure out what works in my game and what I needed to change to become a better player.
“Confidence has honestly been the biggest thing for me this season and I think that’s one of the main reasons I’ve played how I have lately.”
The Tustin, California, native just turned 17 on Feb. 28, making him the second-youngest player on the Tri-City roster. Connelly didn’t start playing on ice until he was 8 either.
Make no mistake, every player faces a learning curve during their first USHL season, which Connelly experienced himself early on. However, he’s made quite the positive impression in year one.
“Every young kid in this league goes through a stage of trying to figure out what it takes to be successful and what’s going on,” Noreen said. “You have to build a little bit of confidence and a little bit of direction in this league and grow from it. And I just think the way he’s carried himself the entire year has been great.
“He’s very low maintenance, wants to get better, extremely driven, coachable, good teammate – and he shows up to work every day.”
🏆 New Record Alert 🏆— Tri-City Storm (@TriCityStorm) April 5, 2023
Trevor Connelly breaks the Storm’s record for points scored in consecutive games with an 18 game point streak! pic.twitter.com/lbw57kxXEX
The Storm tendered Connelly last March, making him the 10th tender in franchise history. Tri-City general manager Jason Koehler identified Connelly early on and Noreen said it felt like a “great fit” for both sides.
Connelly came to Kearney at the end of last season after playing for the Long Island Gulls U16 AAA. He also spent some time with the Storm last spring before returning to Tri-City in the fall.
He’ll return to Kearney again next winter before making the jump to Providence.
“I talked to the (Providence) coaches a lot last year and after we were in Pittsburgh I took my visit out there and just had such a good connection with the entire staff,” Connelly said. “The facilities are great, I liked the campus and I just felt like it was the right place for me.
“I’m excited to get out there but I also know I still need to improve areas of my game and the USHL is a great league for that. You can get away with more in AAA hockey than you can here, especially defensively, so I really wanted to focus on being a complete 200-foot player here.”
As for what’s next, the Storm have four games left on the calendar before what Connelly hopes is a deep playoff run. The Storm are 6-2-1-1 in their last 10 and have been one of the league’s hottest teams over the last three months.
Tri-City (32-19-3-4) is currently fourth in the Western Conference with 71 points, three points behind Lincoln and four behind Waterloo. Tri-City is guaranteed to host the first round of the playoffs.
Coincidentally, the Storm started to get hot around the time Connelly started to hit his stride. The hope is that production follows him into the playoffs and next season.
“You could tell pretty early on he was a special talent and I think you could see that from the time he got here,” Noreen said. “He’s one of those kids where it was a matter of when not if it was going to come together, and he was going to take off.
“I think early on it was a bit of a struggle for him, probably more so than he would’ve thought, but I don’t think it was anything not normal for a 16-year-old going through the rigors of our league. And once he started to figure things out, he’s been a true impact player. Since mid-January you can see his two-way game coming along and it seems like he’s scoring every game. It’s been fun to see.”