SIOUX CITY — For Akira Schmid, life just keeps getting better.
Schmid spent much of the season acting like a brick wall in front of the net for the Sioux City Musketeers, and just weeks after signing his entry level professional contract with the NHL's New Jersey Devils, the Musketeers goaltender received another piece of good news.
On Monday, the Musketeers announced that Schmid has been named the USHL Goaltender of the Year.
Schmid, a native of Switzerland, appeared in 36 games for Sioux City this past season, and put up a 92.1 save percentage and a 2.01 goals against average, both best in the league.
After coming over to the United States in 2018, Schmid played for parts of two seasons with the Omaha Lancers, and also played for Team Switzerland in the 2020 World Junior Championships.
Schmid was traded from Omaha to Sioux City in January of 2020, in the midst of an injury-plagued season, but he thrived in the starting role the next year after undergoing offseason hip surgery.
"You've got to be excited for Akira," Musketeers head coach Luke Strand said. "He battled back from the injury that he had the year before, and the offseason surgeries, to really come full circle and find his way."
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"His ability to overcome, and his ability to dig in internally and make sure he is ready, it really is a sign of a goalie that has a chance to have a long career."
Schmid was a fifth-round pick by the Devils in the 2018 NHL Draft, 136th overall, and signed a three-year contract with the team on May 17, a week after the Musketeers were eliminated from the Clark Cup Playoffs.
Strand has no doubt that Schmid is ready for the professional level.
"For me, Akira is ready," Strand said. "He's going to continue to grow his consistency, and I think professional hockey sometimes for a goaltender is easier, and the (defenses) are pretty darn good. The way he plays keeps the puck stuck to him, and he doesn't give up a lot of rebounds. He competes in a really calm manner, and that is the mark of a pro."
He was named the USHL Goaltender of the Week four times this past season, the final one coming in mid-April, after Schmid put up a 30-save performance against Des Moines, followed by a 22 saves in the next game, against Omaha.
Following his third goaltender of the week award, Schmid made it clear that it wasn't awards that were driving him.
"That’s all in the past now, so I can’t really focus on that too much,” Schmid said in an April interview with the Journal. “Obviously, it’s nice to get recognized sometimes, but you still have to put the work in. It’s not getting any easier, so I’ve got to work hard every day."
The Musketeers finished this past season with a 31-21-1 overall record, good for third-place in the USHL Western Conference.
Sioux City's season came to an end in the Clark Cup Western Conference Finals, as Fargo swept the Musketeers.