Monday, February 3, 2014

NAHL announces monthly awards for January

Press Release

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of January. The Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Mike Davis from the Amarillo Bulls.  The Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Brendan Vetter from the Amarillo Bulls.  The Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month is PJ Bridges from the Topeka RoadRunners.  Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.

Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Mike Davis, Amarillo Bulls

After going through their longest losing streak in organizational history in December, the Amarillo Bulls got back on track in January posting a 10-1 record and vaulting themselves back atop of the South Division. 20-year-old veteran forward and captain Mike Davis had 14 points in those 11 games in January, which included seven goals, seven assists and a remarkable +15 rating during the month. The native of Newark, Delaware also had three game-winning goals during the month, which came in three consecutive weekends. Davis (5’9/185) had four multi-point games during the month, which included a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Rio Grande Valley back on January 10th. For the season, Davis not only leads the Bulls in scoring with 49 points in 46 games played, but he is also tied for the NAHL lead in scoring. His 30 assists also rank 2nd in the league. “We went through a slump in December and following that Mike stepped it up as captain and took it upon himself to make the team better on the ice and in the lockerroom,” said Bulls head coach Dennis Williams. “Mike is the ultimate competitor and warrior. He does the little things to make him and his team successful and it will make him a great NCAA Division I hockey player someday.”

“I think losing in December made us stronger as a team. It is something none of us have gone through before playing in Amarillo and it brought us back down to earth and made us realize that in order to be successful this season, we are going to continue to have to work hard every day because nothing is going to come easy,” said Davis. “We needed a break and in January we got back to basics. We just have to take things one game at a time. Winning the cup last season was a great experience and we want to build off that and become better, but we understand that there is a big target on our back. This is a different team and one that is just as capable of winning a championship again, I just want to provide the right leadership. I want to play well and take advantage of the opportunity of being invited to Top Prospects and hope that continued success down the road will lead to a Division I opportunity.”

Runner-Up: Troy Loggins, Wenatchee Wild

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Zach Badalamenti, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Shane Bednard, Johnstown Tomahawks – Alec Butcher, Kenai River Brown Bears – Scott Cuthrell, Soo Eagles – Brett Gervais, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Evan Hesse, Brookings Blizzard – Max Kalter, Springfield Jr. Blues - Jake Kamrass, Topeka RoadRunners – Blake Kelley, Coulee Region Chill – Jakob Romo, Minnesota Wilderness – TJ Roo, Aberdeen Wings – Malo Ville, Corpus Christi IceRays – Will Vosejpka, Wichita Falls Wildcats

 Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Brendan Vetter, Amarillo Bulls

20-year-old defenseman Brendan Vetter was also a big part of the Bulls getting back on track in January. The native of North Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, was effective at both ends of the ice as he not only racked up 11 points in the 11 games during the month, but he was also a +11. Vetter (6’1/190) was named the South Division Star of the Week last week for his five-point week in games against Odessa. Vetter also shined at the beginning of the month in a sweep of Corpus Christi. During the 11 games in January, Vetter was minus in just one of the games. Vetter has 25 points to date, which ranks 2nd on the Bulls roster for all defensemen and ranks 8th overall in the NAHL. Vetter is a veteran of 138 career NAHL regular season games having spent time with Wenatchee in 2011-12 and Kalamazoo last season. “Brendan has improved every day since he arrived in Amarillo and he is now an elite defenseman. I think once he got through the first 25-30 games, he really started to understand what he needed to do to make he and his team successful,” said Bulls head coach Dennis Williams. “Brendan does a great job at getting pucks to the net and he is responsible at both ends of the ice. It is something that is going to make him a great NCAA Division I hockey player someday.”

“I think after our losing streak in December, we just tried to get back to basics in January. We stuck with our systems and focused on being a defense-first type team,” said Vetter. “Personally, I try to focus on defense first and be a plus guy in every game. If I can do that, the offensive part of the game should come along with it. We are focused on becoming a better team every day so that by the time the playoffs roll around, we are playing our best hockey of the season and can try and defend the Robertson Cup. After that I want to improve to the point where I can play Division I hockey in the near future.”

Runner-Up: Tyler Andrews, Kenai River Brown Bears

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Michael Caruso, Soo Eagles – Cody Champagne, Topeka RoadRunners – Kyle Froese, Corpus Christi IceRays – Mitch Hall, Johnstown Tomahawks – Jake Horton, Aberdeen Wings – Jonathan Kopacka, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Lester Lancaster, Springfield Jr. Blues – Terry Leabo, Minnesota Wilderness – Matt Nuttle, Wenatchee Wild – Brandon Parker, Brookings Blizzard – Jake Townsend, Wichita Falls Wildcats

Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month: PJ Bridges, Topeka RoadRunners

It was a successful, yet emotional month for Topeka goaltender PJ Bridges. The 20-year-old native of Waterford, Michigan, began the month with a pair of wins over Wichita Falls, but following that came the tragic death of teammate and roommate Peter Halash. Following the tragedy, Bridges (6’0/185) won South Star of the Week honors thanks to two more wins in a weekend sweep in Springfield, which was followed by two more wins at the end of the month. During January, Bridges finished with a 6-0-1 record with a 1.27 goals against average and a 94.8% save percentage. He faced 172 shots during the month and stopped 163 of them. Bridges posted two shutouts in January, a 29-save performance in a 2-0 win over Wichita Falls on January 3rd and a 24-save performance in a 3-0 win over Springfield on January 17th. Bridges currently leads in the NAHL with a 1.34 goals against average and ranks 2nd in save percentage (94.7%) and shutouts (6). “PJ is such a strong leader and really has been the backbone of the team since his arrival,” said Topeka head coach Scott Langer. “He is so strong mentally, which makes him such an effective goaltender. We want to be in a situation at the end of the season where he is playing his best so we can be successful.”

Bridges said that the month was bittersweet for him. “It was a hard month because I lost a really good friend and roommate in Peter. We have known each other for a while now because we grew up playing hockey together in Michigan. It was an incredible loss and Peter was an incredible person.  However, it made me focus and rededicate myself. Just when I think times are tough, I think of what Peter went through and what his family is going through and it puts everything in perspective. Everything we are doing as a team from this point forward is dedicated to him,” said Bridges. “For the rest of the season, I will continue to work harder and work longer knowing it will pay off. I have some great teammates in front of me, which makes it easier for me to play better. I am really looking forward to playing in the Top Prospects Tournament and it was an honor to be selected.  I just want to give my team a chance to win the rest of our games. Longer term, I would like to play NCAA Division I hockey next year.”

Runner-Up: Collin Delia, Amarillo Bulls

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Blake Cates, Coulee Region Chill – Connor Girard, Brookings Blizzard – Nathan Klebe, Soo Eagles – Stefanos Lekkas, Springfield Jr. Blues – Max Milosek, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Ben Myers, Corpus Christi IceRays – Alex Okicki, Johnstown Tomahawks – Frank Oplinger, Minnesota Wilderness – Chase Perry, Wenatchee Wild – Zach Quinn, Kenai River Brown Bears

(Nathan can be reached at

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