NAHL, Jacks alum Hellebuyck signs three-year deal with Jets
April 7, 2014
The Odessa Jackalopes, members of the North American Hockey League, are proud to announce former Jackalopes and NAHL goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has signed a three-year, two-way contract with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, annually worth $925,000.
"Connor has decided to pursue his dream of playing professional hockey," said Head Coach Norm Bazin. "He developed his game at UMass-Lowell and we hope he will continue that progress at the next level. We wish him well."
Hellebuyck amassed a 18-9-2 record and a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage with six shutouts in his second season at UMass-Lowell, starting in 29 of 40 games. His GAA and save percentage ranks first nationally among Division I goaltenders, while his shutout total ranks second in the nation. Hellebuyck was a First-Team All-Star, the Hockey East Tournament MVP, a two-time Hockey East Goaltender of the Month and was named one of five finalists for the inaugural Mike Richter Award, given to the best goaltender in Division I hockey.
In two seasons with the River Hawks, Hellebuyck posted a 38-12-2 record in 52 career starts to go along with a 1.60 GAA, .946 save percentage and a school-record 12 shutouts. His save percentage currently ranks first all-time in the Div. I career record book, while his GAA is third best all-time.
The Commerce, Michigan native’s path through hockey began as a free agent in 2011, when he tried for Odessa after the Jackalopes passed him up in the 2011 NAHL Draft. “He wasn’t very happy about it,” said Jacks Director of Scouting Craig Sarner in a recent interview with the Odessa American’s Lee Scheide. “I felt confident that no one else knew about Connor,” Sarner finished.
Hellebuyck led the Jacks to a playoff berth in their first season of NAHL action back in 2011-12. His 29-21-5 record during the season earned him NAHL Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, All-NAHL Team, All-South Division Team and All-Rookie First Team honors.
Then, when the summer of 2012 came, Hellebuyck was selected in the fifth round, 130th overall by the Winnipeg Jets. Now Hellebuyck will begin his journey to the NHL at the AHL affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets, the St. John’s IceCaps.
“We couldn’t be happier for Connor,” Said Jacks President Dan Lavergne. “He was the reason we got to the playoffs in 2012. His stellar play on the ice and exemplary character off the ice made him one of the best players to ever play in Odessa in this team’s 18-year history,”
Hellebuyck still leads the Jacks all-time in Goals Against Average (2.49) and Save Percentage (.930)