The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that Topeka RoadRunners goaltender Peter Traber has been named the Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month for December. Traber, 18, posted a 7-1-0 record in eight games played during the month of December. Traber (6’1/180) posted two shutouts during the month and stopped 158 of a possible 166 shots, which was good for a 95.2% save percentage and a goals against average of 1.18.
Traber posted shutouts in his final two games of December, which earned him 1st star honors in the NAHL 3 stars of the week awards this past week. He stopped a combined 40 shots in two games as he shutout the Springfield Jr. Blues in back-to-back games and enters this weekend’s set of games riding a shutout streak of 120 minutes. “My teammates are playing really well in front of me,” said Traber. “I had a really good mindset going into those last couple of games in December. I was playing with a lot of confidence and the guys were blocking shots in front of me which really made me feel like they were doing all they can to help out defensively.”
Traber never allowed more than two goals in any game during the month with the exception of his lone loss, in which he gave up three goals against Wenatchee. In the previous two months, Traber had four wins combined, so he really shined during December after assuming the starting job. “I think we as a team have gotten better as a whole this past month, myself included, and that led to the better stats and winning more games,” said Traber. “Once you can get a couple wins in a row and keep the ball rolling, I think it helps with team confidence.”
This is Traber’s first season of playing in the NAHL. To date, he has posted an 11-5-0 record with two shutouts, a 2.16 goals against average and a 91.3% save percentage. For the previous five seasons, Traber played for Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep school in Minnesota, where he also backstopped the team to a USA Hockey Tier I Midget National Championship last year. “I think playing in the NAHL is a great challenge on a night in and night out basis,” said Traber. “I think the league in general and specifically the South Division is a grind because every team in good and if you off your game, you will get exposed. It has been a great place to develop so far and I have been impressed with the level of hockey.”
Traber’s numbers this season have been very good. However, it wasn’t until mid-November when RoadRunners head coach Scott Langer gave the starting nod to Traber, a decision that was a difficult one. “We had some really quality goalies in here to start the season, so it was a tough choice,” said Langer. “However, the last couple of years we had fallen short down the stretch and we feel like Peter gives us that necessary competitiveness we need between the pipes to be successful and give us the best chance in crunch time. Peter took the opportunity and ran with it. It was something that wasn’t handed to him and that told us a lot moving forward with him as our starting goaltender.”
With his starting goalie set for the remainder of the season and impending playoffs, Langer said he is going to try and give Traber a good balance of playing time with a little rest sprinkled in. “If you are going to end up going the distance in the playoffs, your goaltender has to be fresh, so we will be careful of how we utilize Peter moving forward,” said Langer. “We know he wants to be out there every game, but possesses a lot of maturity on and off the ice and is able to handle different situations. He is a big time competitor so when it is his turn to shine, we are confident he will keep doing so.”
Other goaltenders nominated were (alphabetical): Tyler Bruggeman, Austin Bruins – Alex Fons, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Tyler Green, St. Louis Bandits – Gregg Gruehl, Amarillo Bulls – Brock Kautz, Janesville Jets – Robert Nichols, Wenatchee Wild – Alex Okicki, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings.
Previous 2011-12 Brian’s NAHL Goaltender of the Month winners - September 2011: Tony Kujava, Janesville Jets – October 2011: Greg Lewis, Wenatchee Wild – November 2011: Jacob Meyers, Alexandria Blizzard.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)