Veteran Johnstown Tomahawks forward Samuel Solensky, 20, helped the Tomahawks to a 6-2-0 record in October as they maintained their East Division lead. The 5’10/170 lbs. native of Michalovce, Slovakia, led all NAHL players in scoring with 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) during the month, which included six multi-point games. During the month, Solensky also became the all-time assists leader in Tomahawks history. For the season, Solensky currently leads the NAHL in scoring with 26 points in 16 games played. “Sammy had an outstanding October for us averaging two points per game for the month, but also as a leader demonstrating his tenacious work ethic and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. He seemed to take his game to another level each weekend and was a driving force to our success. I am extremely proud of him for being recognized as the NAHL Forward of the Month and he should be equally as proud because he is very deserving,” said Tomahawks head coach Mike Letizia.
“The way that last year went for us really was motivation to do something better this year, and a good start was something we were really focused on,” said Solensky. “Now that we have gotten off to a good start, we are focused on keeping that momentum going and that’s something we all did in October. I think everything is clicking for us right now and also for me personally. I am trying to play my best every game and not take any shifts off. I am very motivated because my goal to play NCAA Division I hockey and I think we have the type of team that is capable on making a deep run in the playoffs.”
Runner-Up: Cameron Buhl, Minnesota Magicians
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Jon Bendorf, Aberdeen Wings – Blake Bennett, Corpus Christi IceRays – Louis Boudon, Northeast Generals – Logan Jenuwine, Amarillo Bulls – Jack Johnson, Shreveport Mudbugs – Keenan Lund, Minot Minotauros – Tommy Middleton, Janesville Jets – Augustine Moore, Jamestown Rebels – Ryan Naumovski, New Jersey Titans – Brandon Puricelli, Springfield Jr. Blues – Johnny Sorenson, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Michael Spethmann, Kenai River Brown Bears – Adam Stacho, Bismarck Bobcats – Dallas Tulik, Topeka Pilots – Dante Zapata, Austin Bruins
Despite playing in just six games during the month of October, Bismarck Bobcats defenseman Sam Malinski, 20, made the most of the games by helping his team to a 3-2-1 record during the month. The 5’11/185 lbs. native of Lakeville, Minnesota, led the Bobcats in scoring during the month with eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) in just six games. Malinski recorded at least a point in five of the six outings and had three multi-point games. For the season, Malinski is 2nd in team scoring and 2nd among all NAHL defensemen in scoring with 13 points in 12 games played to date. “Sam has the ability to change games single-handedly. His hockey IQ along with his shot and ability to compete to me make him an elite defenseman and a big reason we are having early success,” said Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie.
“I think after the way last season ended, there was some motivation on my part and that of the returning players to work harder this year to ensure the team was going to have success,” said Malinski. “I have been focused on trying to take care of things in the defensive end first and let that translate into offense on the other end. We have a team that is full of talented players and our goal this year is to make sure we make the playoffs and give ourselves a change to win a Robertson Cup. Beyond that, I just want to keep working hard and improving to the point to where I am able to realize my dream of playing NCAA Division I hockey.”
Runner-Up: Andrew Kruse, Minnesota Magicians
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): JJ Boucher, Kenai River Brown Bears – Brenden Datema, Amarillo Bulls - Stanislav Dosek, Janesville Jets – Cam Gaudette, Northeast Generals – Kyle Gudme, Springfield Jr. Blues – Tim Makowski, Aberdeen Wings – CJ McGee, Shreveport Mudbugs – Jed Pietila, Austin Bruins – John Stampohar, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Nick Strom, Minot Minotauros – Hunter Toale, Johnstown Tomahawks – Quinn Warmuth, Maryland Black Bears
Austin Bruins goalie and NAPHL grad Kyle McClellan, 19, helped his team to a 6-0-2 record in the month of October and the 6’1/170 lbs. native of Manchester, Missouri, is off to a great start in the NAHL. During the month, McClellan posted a 4-0-1 record, which included an NAHL-leading three shutouts, a 1.18 goals against average and a .956 save percentage. McClellan, who currently leads the NAHL with three shutouts, is 2nd in goals against average (1.71) and 3rd in save percentage (.939), posted shutouts of the Brookings Blizzard (Oct. 6), Minnesota Magicians (Oct. 20), and Chippewa Steel (Oct. 27) during the month. “Kyle has been a big part of our early season success. He has been putting in extra work with goalie coach Nick Lehr and continually gets better each week. The NAPHL’s CarShield AAA Program did a great job of developing Kyle for the jump to the NAHL and we are very happy to have him in Austin,” said Bruins head coach Steve Howard.
“We have good team chemistry and it also helps that we have a team that can score some goals. That gives you a lot of confidence as a goalie because you aren’t afraid of giving up a goal because you know your teammates will have your back. I think we have a team here that can compete for a Robertson Cup and I just want to keep getter better and hopefully end up with an NCAA Division I opportunity,” said McClellan. As for playing and developing in the NAPHL, McClellan said that it provided a great outlet for development. “I think the competition you face in the NAPHL prepares you, along with the events, exposure, and the travel. The more times a scout can see you, the better your chances are for advancement. They see a progression of development and there is plenty of exposure playing in the NAPHL. The pace of play in the NAHL is a lot faster, so it took me a few games to really get used to it, but I think the knowledge of what to expect is invaluable.”
Runner-Up: Gavin Enright, Kenai River Brown Bears
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Maiszon Balboa, Shreveport Mudbugs - Cole Brady, Janesville Jets – Nick Grabko, Minot Minotauros – Jason Grande, Amarillo Bulls – Ethan Haider, Minnesota Magicians – Caleb Hannon, Springfield Jr. Blues – Nate Reid, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – John Roberts, Bismarck Bobcats – Matt Vernon, Aberdeen Wings
It was a big month for Ferris State recruit and Amarillo Bulls forward Jason Brancheau. The 19-year-old from River Rouge, Michigan, led the NAHL in scoring during the month of September with 13 points (4 goals, 9 assists) in 7 games played as the Bulls moved to the top of the NAHL and South Division standings with a 6-1-0 record. Brancheau (5’9/177) had four multi-point games and was a +9 during the month. “Jason’s talent was evident from day one last season. His skating and puck skill are elite, which is why he received his NCAA commitment to Ferris State so early. Jason’s compete level and ability to play with high intensity on a consistent basis is what has taken his game to the next level. The way he thinks the game and sees the ice, allows him to make good decisions with the puck and at times slow the game down. He finished the last games of the 2017-18 season playing on a line with Alex Peterson and Brett Abdelnour, allowing them to create some chemistry, which has led to their hot start this season season. Jason has also come back to Amarillo more prepared to be a leader and a mentor for some of our first year players. He takes that responsibility seriously and has done a great job of it to this point,” said Amarillo head coach Rocky Russo.
“We have bought in to what Coach Russo has been preaching from the very start of training camp and that has paid off in a good start for us. I think going through what we did last season really helped us grow and prepare for this season,” said Brancheau. “I want to continue to try and become a better player and work harder and harder each day. It is a goal of mine to be one of the top forwards in the NAHL. I think the sky is the limit for us and we have a team that contend for the Robertson Cup.”
Runner-Up: Rex Moe, Odessa Jackalopes
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Erik Bargholtz, Janesville Jets – Jon Bendorf, Aberdeen Wings – Louis Boudon, Northeast Generals – Zach Krajnik, Kenai River Brown Bears – Taylor Lantz, Minot Minotauros – Kyle Moore, Corpus Christi IceRays – Jax Murray, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Aaron Myers, Minnesota Wilderness – Anton Rubtsov, Shreveport Mudbugs – Dante Sheriff, Austin Bruins – Samuel Solensky, Johnstown Tomahawks – Ryan Taylor, Bismarck Bobcats – Gabe Temple, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – Cam Thiesing, Chippewa Steel – Dallas Tulik, Topeka Pilots
Like his teammate Jason Brancheau, Amarillo Bulls defenseman Brenden Datema, 19, was a main reason behind the Bulls success in September. The 6’5/220 lbs. native of Sterling Heights, Michigan, led all NAHL defensemen in points during the month with 11 points (6 goals, 5 assists) in 7 games played. His six goals are actually tied for the current NAHL lead. Datema, who is in his second NAHL season, had four multi-point games during the month as well. He has already surpassed last season’s point total of nine. “We are very proud of Brenden for the way he has started the season. He took his summer very seriously, adding muscle and improving his game in a number of ways. He returned to Amarillo prepared to be a leader and play in all situations and his results are currently reflecting that effort. Brenden is a very good skater with good offensive instincts and an NHL quality shot. He has been a calming presence in our defensive zone and his stick and physical play have helped us to succeed on the penalty kill. We look forward to watching Brenden continue to grow and develop this season and in the future,” said Bulls head coach Rocky Russo.
“I think our returning players have been key to the good start. We have bought into 100% of Coach Russo’s systems and coaching and things have paid off thus far. I worked really hard this summer to become a better player and athlete,” said Datema. “I really want to help us make the Robertson Cup. The South Division is tough, but I know we have a group that can do it. Beyond that, I would really like to play NCAA Division I hockey.”
Runner-Up: Max Finner, Topeka Pilots
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Lincoln Erne, Minot Minotauros – Jordan Gonzalez, Chippewa Steel – Andrew Hicks, Janesville Jets – Michael Higgins, Northeast Generals – Markuss Komuls, Kenai River Brown Bears – Sam Malinski, Bismarck Bobcats - CJ McGee, Shreveport Mudbugs – Jed Pietila, Austin Bruins – John Stampohar, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Hunter Toale, Johnstown Tomahawks
It was a busy and productive month for Magicians rookie goalie Ethan Haider, 17, who got his NAHL career off to a flying start. The Clarkson University commit and native of Maple Grove, Minnesota, posted a 3-2-0 record in five games in the month of September. While Haider (6’2/205) did lose two games during the month, he never allowed more than three goals in a game, posting a goals against average of 1.60 and a save percentage of .951 in September. Haider also led the NAHL with two shutouts. In total, he stopped 155 of 163 shots that came his way in 300 minutes of playing time. “Ethan has been very strong in the net to start the season. He is playing with a lot of confidence and the team believes in him. We are excited to watch him continue to progress this season,” said Magicians head coach A.J. Bucchino.
“I think the jump from high school to the NAHL is a significant different, so I just tried to adapt the best I could and keep my team in games. The pace of play and speed of the shots was the most noticeable difference. You can’t take a day or a game off in this league, because it’s too good for that,” said Haider. “I want to maintain a high level of confidence. My dream is to play in the NHL and I know the NAHL has a great track record of developing goalies, so I am where I want to be. The next step for me is to continue to improve, help my team win as many games as possible, and try and win a Robertson Cup. We have a tight group with a lot of character and talent.”
Runner-Up: Brett Miller, Austin Bruins
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Sam Best, Corpus Christi IceRays – Cole Brady, Janesville Jets – Leo Chuard, Shreveport Mudbugs – Harrison Feeney, Lone Star Brahmas – Ben Garrity, Minot Minotauros – Emil Gransoe, Topeka Pilots – Carter McPhail, Johnstown Tomahawks – John Roberts, Bismarck Bobcats – Matt Vernon, Aberdeen Wings – Dennis Westergard, Kenai River Brown Bears – Ryan Winter, Amarillo Bulls – Owen Zdunski, Chippewa Steel