The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that Janesville Jets forward Darren McCormick has been named the Combat Hockey NAHL Player of the Month for December.
The Buffalo, New York native appeared in seven NAHL games during the month, two with Amarillo and five with Janesville. He recorded 16 points in those seven games which included six goals and seven assists. McCormick, 18, was also a +13 in the seven games during the month. He scored in all seven games he played, including two game-winning goals and is currently riding a seven-game point streak.
McCormick (5’11/165) was in the very rare position of having been traded during the month. He began the season with the Amarillo Bulls, appearing in 14 games for the South Division leaders, where he recorded five points. However, three of those points came in his final two games with the Bulls in December in which he scored twice, including one game-winner and assisted on another in two road games at Fresno and at New Mexico.
On December 14th, he was acquired in a trade by Janesville from Amarillo. Two days later, he took his game to another level with the Jets as he was placed on the top line with Jordan Bancroft and Connor McBride and the rest was history. McCormick recorded 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) in the five remaining games during the month with the Jets, which included four multi-point games.
“I really enjoyed my time and the situation in Amarillo. I had great coaching, great teammates and they are a very talented team, but I had a different role there,” said McCormick. “I was more a grinder and checking line guy and accepted that role. When I got traded to Janesville, I was put on a scoring line and expected to produce points and it worked out. I have been playing with a couple of great linemates in (Jordan) Bancroft and (Connor) McBride, and it has made the transition easier for me.”
Janesville head coach Dane Litke believes that the timing of the trade came at the perfect time. “Some of our forwards were hurt and one of our better players Pijus Rulevicius was playing for Lithuania at the Division I World Junior Championships, so that opened up a spot on the top line and Darren stepped right in and played great,” said Litke. “Darren is very skilled and has a nice scoring touch around the net, so it meshed well with the players we paired him with.”
“I think Janesville has a great team and there is a lot of talent and depth on the roster,” said McCormick. “Everyone works hard, listens to the coaches and it is a great group of guys. I just hope I can keep my good play going and keep the Jets in first place. Ultimately, I would love the opportunity to play Division I hockey, so I just want to stay consistent and keep producing.”
Other players nominated were (alphabetical): Joe Birmingham, forward, St. Louis Bandits – Ben Carey, forward, Wenatchee Wild – Brian Christie, forward, Topeka RoadRunners – David Gandara, forward, Chicago Hitmen – Gabe Levin, forward, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Jack Prince, forward, Texas Tornado – John Rey, defenseman, Amarillo Bulls.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)