SUDBURY – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League has announced its 3 Stars of the week and garnering accolades for the period concluding Jan. 12 were goaltenders Brody Wagner of the Abitibi Eskimos and Michael Muzyka of the Sudbury Nickel Barons along with Soo Thunderbirds forward Eric Hillock.
BRODY WAGNER, (G) ABITIBI ESKIMOS – In three appearances last week the 20-year-old Wagner picked up the victory in each of them aiding in Abitibi’s efforts to pick-up six points in the overall standings while solidifying their hold on fourth spot while also moving into contention for third place in the league.
The Eskimos netminder began by stopping all 39 shots he faced Tuesday to register his first NOJHL shutout in backstopping Abitibi to a 4-0 win on home ice against Kirkland Lake.
Then on Friday night Wagner kicked out 33 of the 34 attempts fired his way in a 6-1 triumph over Blind River in a game held in Thessalon.
Topping off his week, despite allowing six against, he finished with an incredible 60 saves in a wild 7-6 double overtime victory on the road at Elliot Lake.
Wagner, who hails from Reading, Penn., finished up weekly play with an impressive .950 save mark and 2.25 goals-against average with the one shutout.
His efforts also allowed him to move up into third overall in the league in save percentage at .916.
MICHAEL MUZYKA, (G) SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS – In a pair of starts this past week the 17-year-old Sudbury product helped the Nickel Barons secure a couple of much-needed victories in the club’s efforts to move up the NOJHL standings.
Muzyka started off with a 27-save performance helping lead his club to a narrow 4-3 overtime victory vs. the visiting Blind River Beavers at McClelland Arena.
Then on Saturday at the NOJHL Showcase in Espanola he turned aside 26 of the 28 attempts he faced in a 3-2 triumph over the North Bay Trappers.
Each of his last five starts have been decided by one-goal with his efforts allowing his hometown side to pick-up eight of a possible 10 points in that span.
ERIC HILLOCK, (F) SOO THUNDERBIRDS – The 19-year-old Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., native made the most of his offensive output during the week that was by supplying the game-winning tally in both match-ups the league-leading Thunderbirds had while helping them extend their winning streak to 17 games, which is a tie for the most victories in a row in franchise history.
Friday evening at Essar Centre he was the hero in overtime as he slammed home the deciding marker in a hard-fought 2-1 decision vs. the second place Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
The following afternoon in Espanola at the NOJHL Showcase he once again buried the game-winning effort breaking open a tie game in the third period in what was eventually a 4-2 win over Abitibi.
Four of the 10 goals Hillock has scored this season have been game-winners, which ties him for the seventh highest total in that in the league in that department.
Sault Ste. Marie is also 10-0 in each of the contests he has found the back of the net.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)