The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its Players of the Week, sponsored by SBK Hockey, for the week ending March 13.
SBK HOCKEY/NORTH PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Eric Rivard - Traverse City North Stars
Traverse City forward Eric Rivard struck for a goal and two assists as the North Stars put together a 2-1 record against St. Louis. After being held scoreless on Friday - a 3-0 victory - the Traverse City native recorded an assist the next night in a 3-1 loss. On Sunday, the 19-year-old struck for the game-winning goal with less than two minutes left in regulation and an assist as the North Stars bested the Bandits, 2-1.
"Eric had a strong weekend for us,” said North Stars head coach Anthony Palumbo. “He was a physical presence all weekend and scored a big goal for us on Sunday.”
HONORABLE MENTION: Janesville forward Connor McBride; Motor City forward Petrus Sipila; Port Huron forward Max Reavis
SBK HOCKEY/SOUTH PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Brian Christie - Topeka RoadRunners
Topeka forward Brian Christie registered seven assists as the RoadRunners skated to a 3-0 record and the South Division regular-season championship. On Friday, the West Chester, Pa., native picked up four assists, including one on Justin Hussar’s game-winning goal, in a 4-2 victory over the Wichita Falls Wildcats. After being held scoreless the next night - a 4-0 triumph over Amarillo - the 18-year-old connected for three more assists on Sunday as the RoadRunners downed the Bulls, 5-3. The Merrimack College recruit was also a plus-7 for the weekend.
“Brian continues to grow as a player and was a key component in three tough games on the road,” said RoadRunners assistant coach R.J. Enga. “He really stepped up his play when we needed it and is truly becoming a complete player.”
HONORABLE MENTION: Amarillo forwards Zack Smoot and Dan Sherer; Texas forward Jimmy Murray; Topeka forwards Andrew O'Leary and Justin Hussar
SBK HOCKEY/CENTRAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Mike Krieg - Alexandria Blizzard
Alexandria defenseman Mike Krieg struck for three goals and two assists as the Blizzard fashioned a 2-0 record. On Saturday, the Phoenix native tallied a pair of goals in a 4-2 triumph over the Owatonna Express. The next night, the 20-year-old came through with another goal and two assists, including one on Brent Bain’s game-winning marker, as the Blizzard downed the Austin Bruins, 7-2. He was also a plus-6 on the weekend.
“Mike’s been playing at a very high level lately and has provided us with a veteran presence on the blue line,” said Blizzard assistant coach Jeff Crouse. “He’s really focused in on playing great defense and that’s led to his offensive production.”
HONORABLE MENTION: Bismarck forward Daniel Zawacki
SBK HOCKEY/WEST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
DJ Vandercook - Wenatchee Wild
Wenatchee forward DJ Vandercook struck for a goal and three assists as the Wild fashioned a 3-1 record on the road. After being held scoreless in a two-game split with the Kenai River Brown Bears on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Farmington Hills, Mich., native recorded an assist on Mario Puskarich’s game-tying goal with 38 seconds left in regulation and a goal in the shootout in a 2-1 victory over Fairbanks on Friday. The next night, the 20-year-old notched a goal and two more assists as the Wild downed the Ice Dogs in the outdoor game, 5-3. He was also a plus-2 for the weekend.
“DJ’s performance last week showed exactly why he’s our captain,” said Wild assistant coach Chris Clark. “Not only did he lead us in points, but he also had many timely blocked shots in the defensive zone. DJ's ability to play his best in the big games makes him a true leader in our locker room.”
SBK HOCKEY/GOALTENDER OF THE WEEK
Brandon Jaeger - Wenatchee Wild
Wenatchee goaltender Brandon Jaeger backstopped the Wild to three road wins in his three starts, turning aside 77 of 83 shots. On Tuesday, the Champlin, Minn., native made 21 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Kenai River Brown Bears. Three nights later, the 20-year-old stopped 27 shots in regulation and overtime and five of seven in the shootout as the Wild bested Fairbanks, 2-1. In the outdoor game on Saturday, Jaeger put forth a 29-save effort in a 5-3 triumph over the West Division regular-season champion Ice Dogs.
“Brandon’s been playing his best hockey the last month and a half of the season,” said Wild assistant coach Chris Clark. “He’s been playing with a ton of confidence and it’s wearing off on the rest of the team. Combined with Greg Lewis, we feel we have one of the top goalie tandems in the league. We’ll lean heavily on the shoulders of both as the playoffs approach.”
HONORABLE MENTION: Amarillo’s Gregg Gruehl; Bismarck’s Ryan Faragher; Janesville’s David Jacobson; Port Huron’s Peter Megariotis; Texas’ Jimmy Kruger; St. Louis’ Tom Comunale; Topeka’s Rasmus Tirronen
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)