The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Combat Hockey for the week ending January 13, 2013. The Divisional Stars of the Week is a weekly feature during the 2012-13 regular season that honors the top performing players in each of the four NAHL divisions as nominated by their respective teams.
Central Division Star of the Week: CJ Smith, forward, Austin Bruins
Bruins forward CJ Smith, 18, has been on a roll. Since mid-December, the forward from Richfield, Minnesota, has taken his game to another level and this weekend was another example. Smith (5’11/175) increased his point streak to 10 straight games with a five-point weekend in a road sweep of the Brookings Blizzard. Smith recorded two goals and three assists in the two wins as Austin posted wins of 5-2 and 6-3. On Friday, Smith assisted on two goals, including the game-winner in a 5-2 win. In Saturday’s 6-3 win, Smith was even better as he scored twice and again assisted on the game-winning goal. Smith leads the Bruins in goals with 20 so far this season and ranks tied for 5th in the NAHL in that category. “I was real happy with CJ’s effort this past weekend. He played consistent and really work hard to create turnovers and opportunities. He has really played well the past month,” said Bruins head coach Chris Tok.
2nd Star: Aaron Nelson, goaltender, Bismarck Bobcats
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Zack Holstrom, forward, Minot Minotauros – Mac Jansen, forward, Coulee Region Chill – Adam Knochenmus, forward, Bismarck Bobcats – Cameron Rowat, forward, Minot Minotauros – John Simonson, forward, Austin Bruins.
North Division Star of the Week: Alex Okicki, goaltender, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings
Kalamazoo goaltender Alex Okicki, 19, got back on track this past week with a pair of wins as the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings won three games overall to creep within four points of 2nd place in the North Division. The native of Concord, Ohio, picked up wins on Wednesday in Port Huron and on Sunday at home against Michigan. In Wednesday’s 3-2 shootout win against the Fighting Falcons, Okicki (6’1/173) made 31 saves through regulation and overtime and stopped five of six shooters in the shootout. On Sunday, Okicki made 36 saves in a 5-1 home win over the Michigan Warriors. For the weekend, Okicki stopped 67 of 70 shots for a 95.7% save percentage and a goals against average of 1.44. “Alex has played very well and has gotten better as the season has gone along. He is a solid goalie and certainly worthy of college attention. Most of all, he is a competitor and gives the team a lot of confidence,” said Kalamazoo head coach Marc Fakler.
2nd Star: Matt Leon, goaltender, Springfield Jr. Blues
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Dunk Abbott, defenseman, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Alex Blackenburg, goaltender, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Mac McDonnell, forward, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – Sean Murphy, forward, Soo Eagles – Brett Skibba, forward, Springfield Jr. Blues – Chris Truehl, goaltender, Johnstown Tomahawks – Cody Von Rueden, defenseman, Soo Eagles – Zach Wallace, forward, Johnstown Tomahawks.
South Division Star of the Week: Sami Salminen, forward, Wichita Falls Wildcats
With a weekend home sweep of the Odessa Jackalopes, the Wichita Falls Wildcats have now won three of their last four games, with their offense coming alive. A big piece of that success this past weekend is owed to 19-year-old forward Sami Salminen. The Northern Michigan University recruit and native of Helsinki, Finland, recorded five points (4 goals, 1 assist) in a pair of weekend wins over Odessa. On Friday, Salminen (6’5/190) scored the game-winning goal late in the 1st period in a 6-2 win. On Saturday, Salminen was even better as he had a hat-trick and added an assist in a convincing 9-3 win over the Jacks. Salminen has now scored five goals in his last three games, which are all Wichita Falls wins. “Sami is a big kid that has a great scoring touch. He hasvVery good stick skills, puck skills and when he is playing with a lot of energy, he is a very effective player,” said Wildcats head coach Paul Baxter.
2nd Star: Lawrence Cornellier, forward, Odessa Jackalopes
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Ryan Cole, forward, Amarillo Bulls – Tyler Deresky, forward, Amarillo Bulls – Jackson Leef, forward, Texas Tornado – Hunter Leisner, goaltender, Texas Tornado – Ben Myers, goaltender, Corpus Christi IceRays – Patrick Yudez, forward, Wichita Falls Wildcats.
West Division Star of the Week: Jayson Angus, forward, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
With eight points in his last three games, Fairbanks Ice Dogs forward Jayson Angus, 20, has found his game. The native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was front and center this past weekend as the Ice Dogs kept pace in the West Division with a home sweep of the Janesville Jets. In Friday’s 4-0 shutout win, Angus (5’7/165) scored a goal in the 3rd period and assisted on two more (including the game-winner) for a three point night. On Saturday, Angus picked up two more assists, again including one on the game-winning goal in a 3-1 win. For the weekend, Angus had five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in the two wins and was a +4. “Jayson is a very reliable and steady forward. I think his hard work that he has put in all season is paying off. He plays in all ends of the ice and in any situation, which makes him a very valuable member of this team,” said Fairbanks head coach Trevor Stewart.
2nd Star: Chris Kerr, forward, Wenatchee Wild
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Kevin Aldridge, goaltender, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Noah Nelson, forward, Wenatchee Wild.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)