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NAHL announces monthly awards for February

March 4, 2014

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of February. The Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Tyler Poulsen from the Topeka RoadRunners.  The Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Jake Horton from the Aberdeen Wings.  The Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Bryan Nies from the Minnesota Magicians.  Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.

Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Tyler Poulsen, Topeka RoadRunners

As the Topeka RoadRunners put together a 6-2 record in the month of February, one name stood out amongst the rest in regards to peak performance. Forward Tyler Poulsen, 20, who leads the team in scoring, has been on a tear since early January and his performance in February was an exclamation point to his season to date. The native of Arvada, Colorado, played in six of the eight games during the month and recorded 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists). Poulsen (5’7/150), who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of Alabama-Huntsville in the WCHA next season, registered a point in five of his six games during the month and was also a +3. Three of his games were of the multi-point variety including a five-point game in a win over Rio Grande Valley on February 28th and a four-point game in a win at Corpus Christi on February 7th. For the season, Poulsen has 52 points in 46 games played this season. “Tyler is a great leader on and off the ice and it is something that makes him an exceptional player,” said Topeka head coach Scott Langer. “Tyler is so competitive and about his team and his teammates that as a coach, you never have to motivate him. I think he is a great example for his teammates because even though he has a Division I commitment, he is one of the hardest workers we have on the team. He never stops and he is driven to succeed. That is something his teammates really look up to.”

Poulsen said that his success is a reflection of the team. “I think it is a special group of guys and we are on a mission. I think when Peter Halash passed away, we all took a step back and rededicated ourselves. You realize that every day is a unique opportunity to do something special and work to the best of your abilities,” said Poulsen. “I have been fortunate that my linemates Jake Kamrass and Yu Hikosaka have been playing really well because it makes things easier for me. I am motivated to go into Alabama-Huntsville next season and make an impact right away, and the only way that is going to happen is if I continue to improve and work hard to become a better player.”

Runner-Up: Shane Bednard, Johnstown Tomahawks

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Kyle Bauman, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Trevor Boyd, Soo Eagles – Alec Butcher, Kenai River Brown Bears – Matt Colford, Minnesota Magicians – Jake Durflinger, Corpus Christi IceRays – Ben Greiner, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Jordan Heller, Aberdeen Wings – Evan Hesse, Brookings Blizzard – Jordan Himley, Janesville Jets – Jacob Howie, Minot Minotauros – Mac Jansen, Coulee Region Chill – Max Kalter, Springfield Jr. Blues – Troy Loggins, Wenatchee Wild – Eric Purcell, Amarillo Bulls – Colton Wolter, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Bryan Yim, Port Huron Fighting Falcons


Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Jake Horton, Aberdeen Wings

February is a month that Aberdeen Wings defenseman Jake Horton, 19, will remember for a long time and for good reason. First, the Plymouth, Minnesota native helped the Wings to a 6-2-1 record during the month as they moved into 2nd place in the Central Division. Next, Horton (5’11/190) was selected to play on the Central team at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. Then, just a week following his experience and performance there, he announced his NCAA Division I commitment to the University of Massachusetts. Now, Horton has been named the NAHL Defenseman of the Month for February thanks to a month in which he recorded eight points (3 goals, 5 assists) in the nine games and was a +3. Out of the nine games during the month, Horton was a minus in just one of them and it also included a three-game point streak. His 18 goals leads the Wings roster in scoring and his 35 points rank 3rd. Horton ranks tops among all NAHL defensemen with his 18 goals and his 35 points is tied for 2nd. “Jake has been our most consistent player since Day 1 and been our leader. He has worked hard to get to the point where is he now and all of the recent success with the appearance in Top Prospects and the NCAA commitment is a result of his dedication to himself and his team,” said Wings head coach Travis Winter. “There is a reason Jake is our captain and he will be an impact player at the next level of hockey in the NCAA.”

Horton remarked that the month of February will be one that he remembers for a long time. “February was memorable for me and the team. I think as the month ended we were playing some of our best hockey of the year. We know it is going to be a dogfight to the end. I think our recent success is a result of hard and determination by everyone,” said Horton. “I thought the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You get to see and collaborate with other guys in the same shoes you are in and the competition level is what sets the event apart from anything else. As a result, I was able to secure that NCAA Division I commitment that has been my dream since arriving in the NAHL, but I don’t want to let up.  I want to get better and I know we have a team that has the capability of accomplishing a lot and hopefully earn the opportunity to play for the Robertson Cup.”

Runner-Up: Duggie Lagrone, Fairbanks Ice Dogs

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Sam Becker, Minnesota Magicians – Darren Brady, Soo Eagles – Mitch Demario, Wenatchee Wild – Marcus Ericsson, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Kyle Froese, Corpus Christi IceRays – Jonathan Kopacka, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Jon Lizotte, Minot Minotauros – Dakoda Menslage, Johnstown Tomahawks – Brandon Parker, Brookings Blizzard – Sam Piazza, Wichita Falls Wildcats - Ryan Polin, Topeka RoadRunners – Alex Smith, Janesville Jets – Vincent Stefan, Kenai River Brown Bears – Brett Szajner, Amarillo Bulls


Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Bryan Nies, Minnesota Magicians

In one of the tightest races for goalie of the month this season, Minnesota Magicians goaltender Bryan Nies, 20, was truly a difference maker for his club as the Magicians got things turned around with a 4-1 record in February. Nies, a native of Grand Forks, North Dakota, was in goal for all four wins as he put together a perfect 4-0 month. Nies (5’11/185) faced a total of 130 shots in the four games and stopped 126 of those shots, good for an astounding 96.9% save percentage during the month. He also allowed just four goals in those four games, posting a goals against average of just 1.00.  Nies and Magicians got things turned around with a 31-save performance in a win in Springfield on February 1st. That was followed by back-to-back wins over the Jr. Blues at home the next weekend, which included a 27-save shutout. Nies finished the month with a 34-save win against Coulee Region on February 22nd. For the season, Nies has a 7-6-3 record with a 3.02 goals against average and a 90.6% save percentage. “I think that early in the season Bryan was still trying to find his game and his role with the team, but we gave him very little support when he was in goal. However, something you want to see as a coach is that your goalies get better as the season goes along and that is certainly the case with Bryan,” said Magicians head coach Scott Meyer. “I think everyone, Brian included, played their best hockey in February, and we are fortunate to have the depth in goal that we do because it has been one of the strengths of the team this season.”

As for Nies, it took a bit of reflection during the second half of the season to get things turned around. “The first half didn’t go like I wanted so to start the second half of the season I just took a step back and looked at the overall picture. It dawned on me that this is my last couple of months of junior hockey and to try and make the most of it. Coach Meyer said he would play whoever was playing the best so I used that as a chance to make a statement for the rest of the season,” said Nies. “I have learned a lot in my time in the NAHL whether it was with Bismarck last year or Minnesota this year. Both sets of coaches really know how to develop goalies and make you improve. I think that for the final month of the season, the focus will be continuing to play well and just winning every game we can. I think we have some momentum going into March so anything is possible.”

Runner-Up: PJ Bridges, Topeka RoadRunners

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Paul Berrafato, Amarillo Bulls – Adam Carlson, Coulee Region Chill – Henry Dill, Aberdeen Wings – Connor Girard, Brookings Blizzard – Olli Kalkaja, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Brock Kautz, Janesville Jets – Nick Lehr, Austin Bruins – Stefanos Lekkas, Springfield Jr. Blues – Merrick Madsen, Minot Minotauros – Max Milosek, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Alex Okicki, Johnstown Tomahawks – Chase Perry, Wenatchee Wild – Zach Quinn, Kenai River Brown Bears


About Easton

Easton Hockey continues to rank atop the industry in sticks and gloves and is growing faster in skates than any other company. It also offers a comprehensive collection of protective gear including helmets and pants. To learn more, go to



About Brian's Custom Sports

The Official Goaltending Equipment Supplier of the NAHL, Brian's has been a leading Canadian supplier of custom-built goal equipment since 1984. As one of the original and remaining custom goal equipment manufacturers Brian's remains committed to continuing to lead the industry with exceptional design and quality.  Visit Brian’s online at

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