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NAHL announces monthly awards for March

April 4, 2014

Minnesota Wilderness forward Darian Romanko, Aberdeen Wings defenseman Jake Horton and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees goalie Nick Schmit win monthly NAHL player awards for March.

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of March. The Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Darian Romanko from the Minnesota Wilderness.  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 Nick Schmit from the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.  Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.

Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Darian Romanko, Minnesota Wilderness

An 8-1-1 record in the month of March had the Minnesota Wilderness rolling into the NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs as the #2 seed in the Midwest Division. Wilderness forward Darian Romanko, stood out among his peers as the 19-year-old from Shoreview, Minnesota, put together his best month of the season. Of the 41 points that Romanko (6’1/195) recorded during the regular season, 13 of them came during the month of March, which included eight goals and five assists. Three of his eight goals during the month where game-winning goals. Romanko recorded at least a point in all but one of the 10 games he played during the month and he finished the regular season on a season-high six-game point streak. Romanko finished the season with 41 points, which ranked tied for 3rd on the Wilderness roster and his 20 goals ranked 2nd. “Darian has played for us all year long, but you could see it come together during the month of March. He is a gifted goal scorer, so when he shoots the puck he is very effective,” said Wilderness head coach Corey Millen. “I think once he got used to the first year rigors of playing junior hockey, he really showed that he was a guy who developed into a very good junior player very quickly and hopefully if he keeps developing at the pace he his, that will lead to an opportunity to play in the NCAA.”

As for Romanko, he echoed Millen’s thoughts about developing as a hockey player. “I think growing up playing high school hockey in Minnesota, you are used to playing a certain way and only in a limited number of games. Moving to the NAHL was a big jump and transition and learning experience the first couple of months, but learning from Coach Millen has been great and once I finally got used to the pace of the game and the physicality, I think I started to settle in,” said Romanko. “I have really enjoyed my time with the Wilderness. We have a team that is capable of doing well in the playoffs, but our division is very tough. It really has taught me that every game is valuable. I have enjoyed staying close to home and hope that I can continue to contribute and help the team and then from there hopefully I can play college hockey in the future.”

Runner-Up: Jordan Heller, Aberdeen Wings

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Alec Butcher, Kenai River Brown Bears – Jay Dickman, Austin Bruins – Brett Gervais, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Robin Hoglund, Janesville Jets – Russ Jordan, Brookings Blizzard – Eetu Karvinen, Minnesota Magicians – Tyler Ledford, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Michael Louria, Minot Minotauros – Aleksi Luhtalampi, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Wes Michaud, Corpus Christi IceRays – Tyler Poulsen, Topeka RoadRunners – Mike Severson, Springfield Jr. Blues – Bryan Yim, Port Huron Fighting Falcons.


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

For the second straight month, Aberdeen Wings defenseman Jake Horton, 19, has been named the NAHL Defenseman of the Month. T The native of Plymouth, Minnesota native helped the Wings to a perfect 10-0 record during the month as they finished in 2nd place in the Central Division, one point behind the Austin Bruins. Horton (5’11/190), a UMass recruit, tied for the NAHL lead for defensemen with 11 points in the month of March, which included three goals and eight assists. He also was an amazing +14 during the month. Horton registered a point in seven of the 10 games during the month and went a stretch of four straight games in which he had two points in each of the four. Horton’s 21 goals was one behind the team lead leads the Wings roster in scoring and his 46 points ranked 3rd. Horton ranks tops among all NAHL defensemen with his 21 goals and his 46 points ranked 2nd. “Jake has been great for us all year.  Our defensemen have done a great job developing and his leadership is a big reason why.  He’s consistent, he’s reliable and he’s leading us right now into the playoffs,” 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.”

“I think the team has had a philosophy of getting better as the year goes along and I have tried to subscribe to that as well. We want to get stronger and better so that by the end of the season, we are playing our best hockey. That is a credit to Coach Winter because it happened last year and continued this season,” said Horton. “We respect Bismarck and know when it comes to playoff time, they are going to be a tough team to beat. We look at it as Game #61. We just want to continue to keep playing better as an extension of how we finished the regular season. I couldn’t be more excited for the challenge and we have to go out there and play hard every shift.”

Runner-Up: Sam Piazza, Wichita Falls Wildcats

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Alex Baskakov, Springfield Jr. Blues – Josh Bretner, Austin Bruins – Richard Buri, Minnesota Wilderness – Scott Dornbrock, Minot Minotauros – Marcus Ericsson, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees – Duggie Lagrone, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Nick LeSage, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Judd Loewenstein, Kenai River Brown Bears – Brandon Parker, Brookings Blizzard – Ryan Polin, Topeka RoadRunners – Alex Smith, Janesville Jets


Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Nick Schmit, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees

Quietly, Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees goaltender Nick Schmit has worked his way into the goaltending elite of the NAHL. The 19-year-old native of Fargo, North Dakota, spent the first half of the season backing up fellow Killer Bees netminder Olli Kalkaja.  However, the opportunity came in December for Schmit to show his stuff and he didn’t disappoint the remainder of the season, and particularly in March. Schmit (6’0/180) played in eight of Rio Grande Valley’s 10 games during the month and posted a 5-2-0 record with a 1.07 goals against averge and a 95% save percentage. During the month, Schmit never allowed more than two goals in a game as the Killer Bees fashioned a 7-3 record. Three of Schmit’s five wins were shutouts. During the month, Schmit stopped 132 of a possible 139 shots on goal. For the season, Schmit finished 4th in the NAHL in goals against average (1.66), tied for 4th in shutouts with six and in the Top 10 in save percentage at 92.6%. “Nick was our best player during the month. We weren’t playing our best hockey, so we gave up some opportunities and he was there to bail us out. He was the x-factor and is playing at the top of his game right now,” said Killer Bees head coach Joe Coombs. “We have had great goaltending all season from both of our goalies and it is one of the reasons that if we are going to have success in the playoffs, we will be looking to them to carry the load.”

Schmit said that the month of March was one were he was focused and trying to take advantage of the playing time given to him. “I saw the puck really well and felt like I was really focused. We have a very good team defense and some very talented players in front of me so it makes it a little easier to know that they are going to do everything they can to limit the other team’s chances,” said Schmit. “I have really enjoyed my time down here in the Rio Grande Valley. Being from North Dakota, it is definitely a unique experience, but one that has been very positive. The weather is great, the arena is first-class, the fan support has been really good, so the entire experience has been a lot of fun. I hope to just keep working hard and try and win the South Division playoffs. After that hopefully I get a opportunity to play NCAA Division I hockey.”

Runner-Up: Max Milosek, Port Huron Fighting Falcons

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): PJ Bridges, Topeka RoadRunners – Henry Dill, Aberdeen Wings – Logan Halladay, Janesville Jets – Tyger Howat, Springfield Jr. Blues – Kasimir Kaskisuo, Minnesota Wilderness – Nick Lehr, Austin Bruins – Chase Munroe, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Kris Oldham, Kenai River Brown Bears – Brandon Wildung, Minot Minotauros


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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