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Another big week for NAHL alumni

December 5, 2013
It was another banner week for alumni of the NAHL as several players who were trained and developed in the league had success this past week at the higher levels of hockey.  Here is a look at some of the award winners:
Former NAHL’er and USNTDP member Patrick Kane was named the NHL’s #1 Star in November. Kane ranked second among skaters with nine goals, including four game-winners, and 19 points, helping the Blackhawks win 12 of 15 games to move into first place in the NHL standings (20-4-4, 44 points). He recorded at least one point in 13 of 15 contests, including six multi-point efforts, and posted a career-long, 12-game point streak from Nov. 3-27 (8-9—17). The 25-year-old Buffalo native and reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner ranks third in the NHL with 16 goals, including a League-leading five game-winners, and tied for fifth with 30 points in 28 games this season. Kane played for the US program in the NAHL during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons, scoring 71 points in 55 career NAHL regular season games.
Former NAHL and Springfield Jr. Blues goaltender Mike McKenna was named AHL Goaltender of the Month for November. In five November starts, McKenna went 4-1-0 with a 1.16 goals-against average, .950 save percentage and two shutouts. Due in large part to his success throughout the month, the St. Louis, Missouri native now leads the AHL this season with a 1.45 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. No other AHL goaltender has a goals-against average below 2.00. McKenna played two seasons in the NAHL with the Springfield Jr. Blues during the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons. After his award McKenna was then recalled by the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets.
For NAHL and Amarillo Bulls forward Hampus Gustafsson has garnered his first collegiate weekly honors after being named the Hockey East Rookie of the Week. Gustafsson, who entered Saturday with two goals already in his young rookie season, scored twice against the Bulldogs; first, he found the twine in the first period on a blistering shot in the low slot before batting in a deflected puck out of midair into the back of the net later in the third frame to round out his impressive night. The Ljungby, Sweden, native also finished Saturday with three shots on goal and a +2 rating for the Warriors. Through 13 games, Gustafsson shares the Merrimack lead in goals scored (4) while sitting in a two-way tie for third in total scoring (4-2—6); the young forward has been penalized just twice this season and leads all Warriors with two power-play markers. Gustafsson played for the Bulls last season, helping them to a Robertson Cup Championship.
Former NAHL and Odessa Jackalopes and current UMass Lowell hockey sophomore goalie Connor Hellebuyck was named the Hockey East Co-Goaltender of the Month for November after stopping 164 of 171 shots as the River Hawks won four, two by shutout, of his five starts during the month. Hellebuyck went 4-1-0 during the month with a Goals Against Average of 1.41 and a Save Percentage of .959. His wins came against New Hampshire, Penn State and two against Notre Dame. The November performance propelled Hellebuyck to the top of the national stats leader board among goalies. His 1.57 GAA and .951 save percentage lead the nation. Hellebuyck has twice this season won Hockey East weekly awards and picked up three monthly awards during his freshman season. Hellebuyck was the NAHL’s Co-Goaltender and Rookie of the Year during the 2011-12 season.
Former NAHL and USNTDP forward Austin Czarnik was named the Offensive Player of the Week in the NCHC. Czarnik set both single-game and career milestones over the weekend, helping Miami earn a tie and win at Bemidji State. The RedHawk captain finished the weekend with five points, all assists, while posting a +1 rating. In Friday’s 4-4 tie, he was held in check, putting one shot on goal. But in Saturday’s 6-3 victory, Czarnik exploded for a career-high five assists (and career-high five points), including three primary helpers, while assisting on both a power play and short-handed goal. With his fourth assist Saturday, he topped the 100-point mark for his career, becoming the 48th Miami player to do so. The skilled center also posted a +4 rating Saturday and was named the game’s first star. Czarnik has now earned NCHC Offensive Player of the Week twice this year. Czarnik played in the NAHL with the U.S. program during the 2008-09 season where he appeared in 42 games recording 34 points.
Former NAHL and Traverse City and current Ferris State goaltender C.J. Motte, who backstopped league-leading Ferris State University to a league road victory and tie at Northern Michigan last weekend while remaining undefeated in nets this season, is the WCHA Men's Defensive Player of the Week A 6-0, 190-pound junior from St. Clair, Mich., Motte did not yield an even-strength goal in the two complete victories on Nov. 29-30, improving his season record between the pipes for No. 6-ranked Ferris State to a nation's best 11-0-2. He had a series 0.96 goals-against average, stopped 55 of 57 shots for a .965 saves percentage, and had five shutout periods. Motte played in the NAHL during the 2008-09 season for the Traverse City North Stars, appearing in 34 games that season.
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