April 4, 2013 - North American Hockey League (NAHL)
FRISCO, TEXAS - The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of March. The Combat Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Mike Davis from the Amarillo Bulls. The Combat Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Nate Repensky from the Bismarck Bobcats. The Brian's Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Zach Nagelvoort from the Aberdeen Wings. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Combat Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Mike Davis, Amarillo Bulls
It was almost a perfect month of March for the Amarillo Bulls as they forged their way not only to the top of the South Division standings, but also to the top of the NAHL as well. The Bulls finished the regular season with 99 points, which not only was tops in the NAHL, but also tied their league record from a year ago. Forward Mike Davis, 19, led the assault in March in dominating fashion, which earned him the Forward of the Month award. The native of Newark, Delaware recorded 18 points in 10 games played during the month as Amarillo posted an almost perfect 9-0-1 record. That included 8 goals, 10 assists, a game-winning goal and a +13 rating. Back on March 18th, Davis was honored as the NAHL South Division Star of the Week for his efforts, which included a six point (all goals) weekend. Davis (5'11/180) finished the season as Amarillo's leading scorer with 59 points (28 goals, 31 assists) and was a remarkable +48. Last season, Davis had 23 points in 43 games played. Davis recorded at least a point in nine of the 10 games during the month and finished the regular season riding an eight-game point streak.
Bulls head coach Dennis Williams said the Davis really turned up his game towards the end of the year. "I think as the season went along Mike got better and better. He has a quick release on his shot and has worked hard to put himself in a position to score goals and he remains incredibly focused," said Williams. Davis was the Bulls first draft pick two seasons ago and Williams said that he has been everything that they expected him to be. "We knew one day he could lead our team in scoring because he competes really hard. He also contributes at both ends of the ice and brings as much to the table offensively as he does defensively. I think it is just a small matter of time before he makes an NCAA Division I commitment."
Davis said that a lot of credit behind his play during the month lies within his teammates. "I think that leading the team in scoring is a great accomplishment, but it is a team game and there is no way I could have done something like that without good teammates. We have an amazing coaching staff who really care about the players and our development," said Davis. "I think the sky is the limit for this group. I think when we play our best and work hard, we are a tough team to beat. I think we have a team that can compete and have a good chance to win the Robertson Cup. After that hopefully I will be fortunate enough to earn some type of Division I opportunity."
Runner-Up: Rudy Sulmonte, Corpus Christi IceRays
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Jayson Angus, Fairbanks Ice Dogs - Jay Dickman, Austin Bruins - Jonathan Grebosky, Aberdeen Wings - Alex Jackstadt, Kenai River Brown Bears - Drew Mayer, Texas Tornado - Max McHugh, Wenatchee Wild - Justin Moody, Brookings Blizzard - Robbie Payne, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings - Easton Powers, Port Huron Fighting Falcons - Kyle Sharkey, Topeka RoadRunners - Brett Skibba, Springfield Jr. Blues - Filip Starzynski, Bismarck Bobcats - Jared VanWormer, Soo Eagles.
Previous Winners: September 2012, Jono Davis, Wenatchee Wild - October 2012, Brandon Hawkins, Texas Tornado - November 2012, Kyle Sharkey, Topeka RoadRunners - December 2012, Brandon Wahlin, Austin Bruins - January 2013, Lawrence Cornellier, Odessa Jackalopes - February 2013, Robbie Payne, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings.
Combat Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Nate Repensky, Bismarck Bobcats
As far as productive months for an NAHL defensemen go, Bobcats dman Nate Repensky, 19, had one of the best in recent memory. Consider that out of the 27 points that the native of Duluth, Minnesota, had during the regular season, 16 of those points (or roughly 60%) came during the month of March. Not only did he lead the Bobcats in scoring during the month, but his 16 points during the month with 3rd most in the NAHL. Repensky (5'10/185) chimed in with four goals, 12 assists and was a +3 as the Bobcats went 7-1-3 during the month to finish in 2nd place in the Central Division. Repensky's month included two, four-point games and a three point game. In two road wins in Austin on March 22nd and 23rd, Repensky had five assists in the nine goals scored during the weekend sweep for the Bobcats. He finished the regular season riding a four-game point streak as was tops among all Bobcats defensemen in scoring this season.
"Nate had an injury early on in the season and it was one of those that really takes a while to heal and come back from, but once he got back into the grove of things and got back into playing shape, he really made a difference for us,:" said Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie. "You look at something like our power play, which made huge improvements once Nate was helping to run it. Our power play recently has been up around 40%, which a lot of the credit goes to Nate for that. He is very skilled and solid at both ends of the rink. It is so important to have a guy that can break the puck out of the defensive zone on a consistent basis and with Nate, you don't have to worry about that. You always know he is going to make that first pass or play to get things going."
As for Repensky, he said that his production in March was something that had built up during the season. "I think we as a team felt some urgency to play our best hockey as the regular season came to a close. We wanted to get home ice in the first round and be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs." Repensky said that because of his injury early in the season, which kept him out over a third of the season, he had not felt 100% until the past couple of months. "I think it took a couple of months to really get back to where I felt comfortable and back up to 100% with the speed and strength. Once I did, I had a lot more confidence in distributing the puck and jumping into plays. Short term, I think we have a really good club that can contend in the playoffs if we are playing our best. Long term, I am hopeful I keep playing well and developing here in Bismarck and get an NCAA Division I opportunity."
Runner-Up: Vince Stefan, Kenai River Brown Bears
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Jeff Bergh, Johnstown Tomahawks - Mick Bruce, Port Huron Fighting Falcons - Josh Hartley, Wenatchee Wild - Jake Horton, Aberdeen Wings - Grant Hutton, Corpus Christi IceRays - Michael Lant, Soo Eagles - Nick Neville, Texas Tornado - John Rey, Amarillo Bulls - Derek Sand, Brookings Blizzard - Jack Sloan, Springfield Jr. Blues - Trace Strahle, Topeka RoadRunners.
Previous Winners: September 2012, Mark Evan Auk, Port Huron Fighting Falcons - October 2012, Cody Dixon, Austin Bruins - November 2012, Casey Nelson, Johnstown Tomahawks - December 2012, John Rey, Amarillo Bulls - January 2013, Brett Beauvais, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings - February 2013, Terry Leabo, Springfield Jr. Blues.
Brian's Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Zach Nagelvoort, Aberdeen Wings
On paper, two big changes for the Aberdeen Wings turned their season around. The first was the hiring of their new head coach Travis Winter, who came in during the second half of the season and guided the Wings to a 15-6-3 record under his watch. The second was the addition of goaltender Zach Nagelvoort, 19, at the trade deadline. The native of Holland, Michigan, posted an 8-1-1 record in his 10 games played with Aberdeen this season and that included a 6-1-0 record in the month of March. During the month, Nagelvoort (6'2/190) faced 231 shots and made 221 saves, good for a save percentage of 95.7% and a goals against average of 1.42 during the month. He also posted one shutout, which came in a 1-0 win in Austin back on March 1st. He was named the Central Division Star of the Week back on March 11th for two wins over the Brookings Blizzard in which he stopped 66 of 69 shots. Combined with his stats from playing with the Soo Eagles earlier in the season, Nagelvoort finished 3rd in the NAHL in both goals against average (2.10) and save percentage (93.6%) this season.
Aberdeen head coach Travis Winter said the Nagelvoort came in wanting to succeed and wanting to help turn things around. "Zach came in and immediately injected the team with confidence. He is a very confident goaltender and person and it rubbed off on the rest of the team. We know we have a chance to win every night when he is in goal and during the last two months of the season, that was the mindset in every game and one of the reasons the team played so well." Winter also said that Nagelvoort's strengths in goal lies within his athleticism. "Zach is a very athletic goalie, who doesn't give up on plays and he is very quick from side to side. He makes the 2nd and sometimes 3rd saves you need to stay in the game and keep momentum going and you almost never see a bad goal scored on him. I think all that combined with his confidence makes him an elite goaltender at this level."
Nagelvoort said that the trade to Aberdeen was one that worked out well because of his desire to be a #1 goalie. "I knew coach Winter through some camps in the summer and in talking to him when I arrived in Aberdeen, we both agreed that this was a good situation for me and one where I could have the opportunity to really thrive and develop as a #1 goaltender. I think the pressure was off a little bit and that allowed the team to play more freely and play with a lot of confidence knowing we were taking part in a great turnaround," said Nagelvoort. "I think a big part of the success in March was the team. Everyone played with an entirely new level of confidence we even gave ourselves an opportunity to make the playoffs, so as we finished the regular season, I think everyone felt really good about what we accomplished and achieved in a short period of time." As for his future plans, Nagelvoort said that he hopes that an NCAA Division I opportunity and announcement is close. "I want to keep playing as long as I can, but that is obviously the next step. I want to be able to make an impact at whatever level I am playing at and keep getting better."
Runner-Up: Paul Berrafato, Amarillo Bulls
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Marcus Due-Boje, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings - Matt Leon, Springfield Jr. Blues - Tyler Marble, Soo Eagles - Evan McCarthy, Kenai River Brown Bears - Max Milosek, Port Huron Fighting Falcons - Ben Myers, Corpus Christi IceRays - Aaron Nelson, Bismarck Bobcats - Jason Pawloski, Austin Bruins - Chris Truehl, Johnstown Tomahawks - Spencer Viele, Topeka RoadRunners.
Previous Winners: September 2012, Drew Weigman, Brookings Blizzard - October 2012, Tyler Marble, Soo Eagles - November 2012, Robert Nichols, Wenatchee Wild - December 2012, Nick Lehr, Austin Bruins - January 2013, Hunter Leisner, Texas Tornado - February 2013, Paul Berrafato, Amarillo Bulls.