The North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) announced its Pointstreak Peak Performers from the final NAPHL event of the 2012-13 regular season in Troy, Michigan. The players were selected based upon their performance at the sixth NAPHL showcase event of the season, which was held at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan from January 18-21.
MIDGET MAJOR (18U) POINTSTREAK PEAK PERFORMER-Conor Durgan, forward, Lansing Capitals
Over the course of the four-year history of the NAPHL, one of the constants has been the success of the Lansing Capitals program. Like they have the last three seasons, the Capitals 18U team made the top 8 of the playoffs this year, but thanks to an undefeated 4-0 record at the final regular season event earlier in January in Troy, the Capitals finished with the top record in the 18U Divisio, capturing the NAPHL 18U regular season title for the first time. At the forefront of the team’s success in Troy was 18-year-old forward Conor Durgan. Thanks to his success at the event, the native of Laingsburg, Michigan has earned the NAPHL 18U Pointstreak Peak Performer honor.
Durgan is blessed with good size (6’1/190) and a nice scoring touch as proven in Troy. While helping the Capitals go undefeated, Durgan had six points (5 goals, 1 assist, 2 game-winning goals) at the event and managed to register at least a point in each of the four wins. Although Durgan finished tied for 5th in team scoring with 13 points in 22 games this season, he was clutch when it counted most in Troy. He began the event with the game-winning goal in the 3rd period, in a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Detroit. The next day, he assisted on Lansing’s first goal in a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Jr. Ducks. Later on during the second day, Durgan had two goals in a 4-2 win over the Pursuit of Excellence. On the final day, it was another two-goal performance, including the game-winning goal, in a 3-1 win over the San Jose Jr. Sharks, which clinched the regular season title for Lansing.
Lansing head coach Dean Dixon said that Durgan’s performance has been a good example of a balanced team attack this season. “I think the fact that Conor wasn’t our leading scorer, but performed at such a high level when the regular season was on the line, speaks to the depth and talent we have on the roster,” said Dixon. “I don’t think this is our most talented team necessarily, but it is a team that is deep, works well together and has good team chemistry. Sometimes that’s what it takes to win a Championship. It isn’t always the most talented team. Conor is a big part of four lines that we can roll out on a consistent basis and we have had good, solid play from our defenseman and our goalies have both been great.”
As for Durgan, Dixon thinks he really came into his own during the final regular season event of the year. “He has always been a solid, steady player, but he found another gear in Troy. He is the type of player that is ready to play junior hockey next season, both mentally and physically,” said Dixon. “He goes to the net hard, he is a good skater and he is strong on his feet. He also pays attention to defense and is a very good two-way player, which is what it is going to take for him to have success at the next level. I think a league like the NAHL would be the logical next step for him. Off the ice, Conor is a good leader, a hard worker and a good student. He is a competitor on the ice and in the classroom and that type of stuff can’t be taught. He trains hard and is self-motivated, which will make him successful down the road during the next stages of his career.”
MIDGET MINOR (16U) POINTSTREAK PEAK PERFORMER-Shane McMahan, forward, Anaheim Jr. Ducks
Anyone who has watched any of the 16U games in the NAPHL this season has seen a predominant amount of highly-skilled, top end players on most of the teams. This is led to many of the players, some as young as 15-years-old, accepting NCAA scholarships and NAHL tenders. One of those exciting and potential superstars is Anaheim Jr. Ducks 16U forward Shane McMahan. The 16-year-old from Irvine, California, has put himself in the elite player category with his play this season, and more specifically his play during the final regular season event in Troy, Michigan, which earned him the NAPHL 16U Pointstreak Peak Performer honor for January.
At 6’0, 200 lbs., McMahan is more often times than not, dominant on the ice. His 26 goals in 22 games ranked 2nd in the NAPHL this season and his 10 power play goals led all NAPHL scorers, both 16U and 18U. Simply put, McMahan can put the puck in the net. While the Jr. Ducks marched their way to a perfect 5-0 record in Troy, McMahan led the way for the Ducks offensively. In the five wins, McMahan had an astounding 13 points, which included eight goals and five assists. It allowed the Ducks to finish as the #2 overall seed in the 16U Division with a 19-2-1 record.
McMahan, who signed an NAHL tender with the Fairbanks Ice Dogs back on December 11th, started the Troy event with a bang as he recorded a hat-trick (including the game-winning goal) and an assist in a 12-0 win over Detroit. Later on the first day, McMahan had a goal in a big 4-1 win over in-state rival California. On Saturday, McMahan was again dominant as he had two goals and an assist in a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Viper Stars. On Sunday, McMahan had another three-point game with a goal and two assists in a 6-0 win over Pursuit of Excellence. On the final day, he had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win over Lansing.
Anaheim 16U head coach Jim Burcar believes that McMahan played some of his best hockey at the last event. “As our captain, he is an excellent leader, both on and off the ice, but what is most refreshing is he just wants to be a hockey player,” said Burcar. “He never takes a shift off and he is a natural goal scorer. He practices very hard and as a result, has success in game situations because of it. He has really learned to use his size well. He buys time because he can hold defenders off with his body and then get open for a shot. I see him improving each day and that is something that will be of great benefit to him as he takes the next step in his career.”
As for that next step, Burcar believes that McMahan will likely being playing at a high junior level next season. “I think the NAPHL has been so good in providing the opportunity, a place and a forum for players like Shane to get seen and scouted, and it has really started to pay off for him. There is interest from the NCAA, NAHL and other junior leagues, including major junior. He is definitely ready to play junior hockey and I think college is a real option as well,” said Burcar. “His teammates love him and his work ethic rubs off on them. He is fun to be around and a natural born leader that is going to have success at the next levels of hockey.”
The final NAPHL event of the 2012-13 season, the NAPHL Championship Series, will take place from February 15-18 at the Troy Sports Center in Troy, Michigan. The top 8 teams from the regular season in both the 18U and 16U Divisions will battle it out in the Gold Division for the right to called 2013 NAPHL Champions, while the remaining teams will play in the Silver Division for the Consolation Championship. The NAPHL season concludes with its Top Prospects Tournament, which will be held in conjunction with the NAHL Robertson Cup Championship Tournament in May 2013.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)