Monday, December 16, 2013

NAHL announces Easton Divisional Stars of the Week

Press Release

 The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Easton for the week ending December 15, 2013.  The Divisional Stars of the Week is a weekly feature during the 2013-14 regular season that honors the top performing players in each of the four NAHL divisions. Only players that are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the Divisional Players of the Week award.

Central Division Star of the Week: Connor Girard, goaltender, Brookings Blizzard

It looks as if the Central Division is going to be a five-horse race the remainder of the season thanks to the recent play of the Brookings Blizzard and newly acquired goaltender Connor Girard. The 20-year-old NAHL veteran and native of Edina, Minnesota was outstanding this past weekend as the Blizzard swept the 1st place Austin Bruins in a home-and-home series. Girard (6’2/201) stopped 75 of a possible 77 shots during the weekend series. On Friday in Austin, Girard made 35 saves in a 3-1 win over the Bruins. The next night in Brookings, Girard was even better as he made 40 saves and allowed just a single power play goal in a 4-1 win. Since joining the Blizzard earlier this month, Girard has played in four games and posted a 94% save percentage. “Connor has been professional, hard-working and everything we expected him to be,” said Brookings head coach Cory Laylin. “I think the team is playing with more confidence and there us a sense of urgency now and a feeling we are in this race for the rest of the season. We know it is not too late and that we can compete with anyone. Connor believes he can succeed here and take the next steps in his hockey career.”

2nd Star: Ryan Sete, forward, Brookings Blizzard

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Matt Brettingen, defenseman, Aberdeen Wings – Kyle Haak, forward, Aberdeen Wings – Jake Johnson, forward, Minot Minotauros – Merrick Madsen, goaltender, Minot Minotauros – Aaron Nelson, goaltender, Bismarck Bobcats – Nate Repensky, defenseman, Bismarck Bobcats

Midwest Division Star of the Week: Jacob Hetz, forward, Fairbanks Ice Dogs

The Fairbanks Ice Dogs are back atop the Midwest Division and back to having the best record in the NAHL thanks to their weekend road sweep of in-state rival Kenai River. The Ice Dogs won two, one-goal games and were bolstered by the play of 19-year-old forward Jacob Hetz. The native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania factored in on three of the five Ice Dogs goals during the weekend sweep. On Friday, Hetz (6’1/195) had the game-winning goal in the 2nd period as Fairbanks edged the Brown Bears, 2-1. The next night, Hetz picked up two assists, including one on the game-winning goal as the Ice Dogs again edged the Brown Bears, 3-2. Fairbanks has won 11 of their last 12 games. To date, Hetz has 16 points in 27 games played this season. “Jacob had a great weekend for us. He brought a lot of energy to both games and he really skates hard when he is out there,” said Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart. “He was in on three of the five goals this weekend and really made an impact when we needed it.”

2nd Star: Blake Cates, goaltender, Coulee Region Chill

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Sam Becker, defenseman, Wenatchee Wild – Trey Bradley, forward, Wenatchee Wild – Nathan Colwell, forward, Kenai River Brown Bears – Hans Gorowsky, forward, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Eric Purcell, forward, Kenai River Brown Bears

North Division Star of the Week: Logan Halladay, goaltender, Janesville Jets

In just a matter of weeks, the Janesville Jets have gone from being at the bottom of the North Division to now knocking on the door of a playoff spot thanks to a stretch of success that has seen them win six of their last seven games. Jets 17-year-old goaltender Logan Halladay has been front and center behind that success, which included a home sweep this past weekend of the Springfield Jr. Blues. In the two one-goal wins, the native of Cary, North Carolina gave up just three goals and stopped 83 of a combined 86 shots. On Friday, Halladay (6’2/180) made a career-high 51 saves in a 2-1 win and on Saturday, he stopped 32 shots in a 3-2 win.  Halladay’s 93.1% save percentage now ranks 7th in the NAHL and he hasn’t suffered a loss in a game since November 3rd. “Logan has been unbelievable. There is a lot of attention on him right now by NHL and NCAA scouts and he has handled it with maturity,” said Jets head coach Joe Dibble. “He gave up some early goals in both games, but he immediately bounced back and maintained his focus. He plays hard and works hard for this team and that is very inspiring to his teammates.”

2nd Star: Matt Seidel, forward, Port Huron Fighting Falcons

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Max Kalter, forward, Springfield Jr. Blues – Nate Klebe, goaltender, Soo Eagles – Stefanos Lekkas, goaltender, Springfield Jr. Blues – Michael Louria, forward, Janesville Jets – Mitch Maloney, forward, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Trevor Recktenwald, forward, Johnstown Tomahawks – Jordan Watt, forward, Johnstown Tomahawks

South Division Star of the Week: PJ Bridges, goaltender, Topeka RoadRunners

No division race is tighter among the top four teams that the South. That is thanks in large part to the Topeka RoadRunners weekend home sweep over the Amarillo Bulls this past weekend. 20-year-old netminder PJ Bridges started and won both games as the RoadRunners are now just two points out of the 1st place in the division as they shut one of the NAHL’s best offenses down. On Friday night, the native of Waterford, Michigan made 25 saves and lost his shutout bid with just four minutes to go in the game in a 3-1 win. On Saturday, Bridges (6’0/185) made 26 saves in a 4-1 win over the Bulls. For the weekend, Bridges stopped 51 of a combined 53 shots in the two wins. Since joining the RoadRunners in late October, Bridges has a 8-3-1 record. His 1.49 goals against average ranks 2nd in the NAHL and his 94.4% save percentage ranks 3rd. “Wanted to go into the break on a high note and get as close as we could to 1st place, so being able to accomplish that against a very good Amarillo team really gave us a lot of confidence in where we are right now,” said Topeka head coach Scott Langer. ‘PH has been a very nice addition for us.  He is a leader in the lockerroom and a leader on the ice. He gives the team a chance to win every game and plays with a lot of composure.”

2nd Star: David Zevnik, goaltender, Wichita Falls Wildcats

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Anthony Croston, forward, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Josh Haverstrom, forward, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Jake Kamrass, forward, Topeka RoadRunners – Nick Schmit, goaltender, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees

 (Nathan can be reached at nathanfournier@mainehockeyjournal.com)

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