Monday, January 6, 2014

NAHL announces monthly awards for December

Press Release

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of December. The Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Tayler Munson from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.  The Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Brandon Parker from the Brookings Blizzard.  The Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Logan Halladay from the Janesville Jets.  Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.

Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Tayler Munson, Fairbanks Ice Dogs

As the Ice Dogs fashioned a 5-3 record in the month of December and stayed in 1st place in the Midwest Division, they were elevated by the play of forward Tayler Muson. The 20-year-old Fairbanks native continued to show why he is one of the best veteran forwards in the NAHL by recording 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) during the month of December. Munson (6’1/195), who is already committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks next fall, recorded a point in all eight game during the month of December and is currently riding a 14-game point streak, which is currently the longest streak in the NAHL to date. Three of his eight games in the month of December were multi-point games. Munson currently leads the Ice Dogs in scoring with 35 points in 34 games played. His 35 points also is tied for 4th in league scoring. This is Munson’s fourth full season in the NAHL. He has played in 172 career NAHL regular season games and amassed 150 career points. “Tayler understands how to lead and manage adversity and it has made him a better and stronger player,” said Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart. “He understands what he needs to do to make his team successful. He has really matured into a leader on and off the ice and he really has taken himself seriously when it comes to his off the ice training and knows that will be important at the next level.”

Munson said that he and entire team were riding a wave of momentum that began back in November. “I think everyone, myself included, lost our identity a bit and got away from doing to simple things. I think we embraced our roles and bought into the team concept and things really started to click again,” said Munson. “I have tried to stay focused on the team and would like to bring another Championship back here to Fairbanks. I am just trying to be a good team leader and show the younger guys how to handle the different situations that come along with playing in the NAHL on a daily basis.”

Runner-Up: Conor Andrle, Brookings Blizzard

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Erik Baskin, Aberdeen Wings – Shane Bednard, Johnstown Tomahawks – Mike Davis, Amarillo Bulls – Jordan Himley, Janesville Jets – Jack Gessert, Kenai River Brown Bears - Martin Hojbjerg, Corpus Christi IceRays – Max Kalter, Springfield Jr. Blues – Jake Kamrass, Topeka RoadRunners – Ben Kucera, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Eddie Matsushima, Coulee Region Chill – Jake McCann, Minot Minotauros – Mike Sabatini, Soo Eagles – Evan Schmidbauer, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Huba Sekesi, Bismarck Bobcats – Parker Tuomie, Wenatchee Wild – Bryan Yim, Port Huron Fighting Falcons

Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Brandon Parker, Brookings Blizzard

Brookings Blizzard defenseman Brandon Parker was not only a defensive pillar in the month of December, but he also put up some incredible numbers for a defenseman, showing his true two-way value to the club. The 20-year-old from Faribault, Minnesota, had 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) during the month of December and was also a +9. Parker (5’8/180) recorded at least a point in seven of the nine games as Brookings went 5-3-1 during the month and got back in the Central Division playoff race. Parker did not record a minus ratings in any of the nine games and had two three-point games. With 20 points in 35 games played this season, Parker is 4th in team scoring and ranks 9th overall in scoring for all NAHL defensemen. In 76 career NAHL games, Parker has 35 points and is a +7. “I think Brandon brings so much to the table from both ends of the ice. He is a great skater and he really is making good decisions with the puck right now. I think most of all, he is strong with the puck and doesn’t give it up easily, which takes a huge burden off the rest of the team,” said Blizzard head coach Cory Laylin. “I think Brandon is a NCAA Division I prospect because of his dedication to the game and his strength. He has developed a very good shot, which makes him a great all-around defenseman.”

As for Parker, he believes that with each passing day, the Blizzard have become a better team, which peaked during the month of December. “I think everyone realized that December was a big month for us to gel as a team and get better. We put all individual egos aside and really focused on what everyone needed to do to win some games and become a playoff contender,” said Parker. “Personally, I just wanted to do the little things it was going to take for us to win. We have a great group of talented guys here and it makes my job earlier to know they are working hard to make the team successful. I think it got us right back in the race and we are really shooting to make the playoffs. I just want to keep playing well and focus on making myself and the team better. I would love the chance to play NCAA hockey next season, but I know that’s only going to happen with hard work and dedication.”

Runner-Up: Mitch Hall, Johnstown Tomahawks

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Alex Archibald, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Kyle Froese, Corpus Christi IceRays – Clint Garris, Topeka RoadRunners – Jake Horton, Aberdeen Wings – Dan Kovar, Bismarck Bobcats – Jon Lizotte, Minot Minotauros – Judd Loewenstein, Kenai River Brown Bears – Sean Mostrom, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Matt Nuttle, Wenatchee Wild – Jack Sloan, Springfield Jr. Blues – Dante Suffredini, Soo Eagles – Brett Szjaner, Amarillo Bulls - Jake Townsend, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Carson Vance, Janesville Jets

Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Logan Halladay, Janesville Jets

The NAHL has a rich history of producing players that make it all the way to the NHL and although he is just 17-years-old, Janesville Jets goaltender Logan Halladay may be an early candidate of one day joining that long list of names, particularly at the goaltending position. The native of Cary, North Carolina enjoyed a perfect month of December as the Jets got right back in the playoff race in the North Division. The Jets went 5-1 with Halladay (6’2/180) picking up all five wins and no losses. It capped off a streak of eight consecutive starts that Halladay didn’t lose a game. Halladay allowed just seven goals in six appearances giving him a goals against average of just 1.32 during the month. He stopped 192 of 199 shots that came his way, which was good for a 96.5% save percentage during December. He recorded a career-high 51 saves in a 2-1 win over Springfield back on December 13th. Halladay has a 10-4-1 record to date with a 2.55 goals against average and a 92.7% save percentage, which ranks 9th in the NAHL. He is also an NAPHL graduate, having played for the Carolina Jr. Hurricanes 16U team during the 2011-12 season. “Logan was giving our team confidence and giving us a chance to win every night, which is why we continued to try and ride that momentum. Although he is young, he is a pro when it comes to taking care of himself and making sure he is physically and mentally prepared to handles the rigors of the position,” said Jets head coach Joe Dibble. “We know there are a lot of eyes on him right now, but it is all about the team success with Logan. He puts the Jets first and he knows that his performance is 100% about the team. He is mature beyond his years and has a very bright future ahead of him at the next levels of hockey.”

As for Halladay, he echoed Dibble’s sentiment about team success being first and foremost in his mind, especially with the success in December. “I think we got back to having fun and really tried to take in each moment. Playing at this level is something not a lot of guys get to do, so we tried to focus on just playing in a team concept.  I wanted to slow things down and not put so much pressure on myself. I was happy to be out there and doing well and not let the stats dictate my attitude towards it,” said Halladay. “I would love to play college and pro hockey someday and that is definitely something I think about, but I don’t allow myself to think about it a whole lot. Our coaches have kept us focused on getting better one day at a time and just preparing for the next practice and game. I just want to become a better and more experienced goalie each time I step on the ice.”

Runner-Up: PJ Bridges, Topeka RoadRunners

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Paul Berrafato, Amarillo Bulls – Blake Cates, Coulee Region Chill - Chad Catt, Aberdeen Wings – Connor Girard, Brookings Blizzard – Gustaf Johansson, Wenatchee Wild – Stefanos Lekkas, Springfield Jr. Blues – Merrick Madsen, Minot Minotauros – Max Milosek, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Jake Moore, Johnstown Tomahawks – Ben Myers, Corpus Christi IceRays – Aaron Nelson, Bismarck Bobcats – Zach Quinn, Kenai River Brown Bears – Nick Schmit, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Landon Trutt, Soo Eagles – David Zevnik, Wichita Falls Wildcats

(Nathan can be reached at

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