The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of October. The Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Sebastian Vidmar from the Lone Star Brahmas. The Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Jakob Stridsberg from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Alex Bitsakis from the Bismarck Bobcats. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Sebastian Vidmar, Lone Star Brahmas
In a month that was filled with memorable performances by NAHL forwards, one truly stood out among the rest as Lone Star Brahmas forward Sebastian Vidmar, 20, had one worthy of being honored as the NAHL Forward of the Month. The native of Malmo, Sweden, led the NAHL in points (16) and in goals (11) during the month of October. His 13 goals to date leads the NAHL and his 18 points leads the Brahmas in scoring. Three times during the month of October, Vidmar (6’2/190) was honored as the South Division Star of the Week. Vidmar played in eight games during the month and registered at least a point in seven of the eight games. He also had six multi-point games, which included a hat-trick in a 5-2 win over Odessa back on October 24th. “Sebastian is playing at a very elite level right now. He is doing a lot of the little things right that often go unseen that are benefitting both he and his teammates,” said Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong. “He is playing hard in the tough areas and because he is paying that price, he is seeing the positive results. Sebastian is going to be a very good NCAA Division I hockey player because he has taken the time to adapt to the North American style of game. He has does the work on and off the ice to put himself in good position to be a very good addition to an NCAA team.”
This season is Vidmar’s first experience playing in North America. “I cam over here because I felt like it was the best opportunity for me to develop and try and play college hockey in the future. Education is also very important to me, so I felt like the NAHL gave me the best chance to accomplish that goal. The NAHL has smaller ice sheets than in Sweden, so there is a premium on skill and playing the physical game. I worked hard to develop those two things to add to the speed part, but overall, the talent in the league is very good and I am excited to be playing here. Ultimately, I would like to earn an NCAA Division I opportunity where I could play four years of hockey and get an education,” said Vidmar.
Runner-Up: Wes Michaud, Corpus Christi IceRays
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Noah Batis, Keystone Ice Miners – Michael Crowley, Springfield Jr. Blues – AJ Duggan, Amarillo Bulls – Jack Gessert, Kenai River Brown Bears – Zach Glienke, Brookings Blizzard – Zach Lavalle, Janesville Jets – Niklas Lehtimaki, Minnesota Wilderness – Blake Lizotte, Minot Mintauros – Adam Lovick, Coulee Region Chill – Chandler Madry, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Marc Michaelis, Minnesota Magicians – Keegan Miller, Soo Eagles – Evan Okeley, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Matt Perry, Bismarck Bobcats – Michael Soucier, Aberdeen Wings – Sly Sutter, Topeka RoadRunners
Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Jakob Stridsberg, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs once again sit atop of their division and it was thanks in large part to their 9-1-0 record in October. A big part of the team’s success was the play of 19-year-old defenseman Jakob Stridsberg. The native of Jonkoping, Sweden, was a major contributor in October for Fairbanks. During the month, Stridsberg (6’0/180) played in all 10 games and had eight points, including two goals and six assists. He was also +8 during the month, which put him among some of the NAHL’s best in the +/- category during Octover. Stridsberg was remarkably consistent, registering at least a point in seven of the 10 games. His goals came in road wins at Coulee Region and at Wenatchee. He also registered at least a shot on goal in nine of the 10 games. For the season, Stridsberg leads all Fairbanks defensemen in scoring this season with 13 points in 19 games played. “Jakob is a player that does a little bit of everything well… he defends well, he is physical, he can jump into the play, he skates well and he competes. He is a very good teammate and some of that chemistry has really helped team morale recently in October. His success has come at a time where several of our players are now understanding what it takes to be successful on a game-by-game basis,” said Fairbanks head coach Trevor Stewart.
“The speed of the NAHL is the first thing I noticed. There is a lot less room to move around on the ice so there is an emphasis on skill, size and speed. Everyone is the NAHL has it, as it is a very good league. I think I have adapted pretty well. I feel very fortunate to be playing for a team like Fairbanks. They have such a great tradition and the community support is unlike anything I have ever seen. I know that with my focus on education and trying to take the next step to the NCAA, that I am playing in the right place,” said Stridsberg.
Runner-Up: Sam Becker, Minnesota Magicians
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Gustav Berglund, Kenai River Brown Bears – Tobias Bjorklund, Minnesota Wilderness – Darren Brady, Soo Eagles – Daniel Brickley, Topeka RoadRunners – Alex Copa, Brookings Blizzard –Kasper Emanuelsson, Amarillo Bulls – Logan Gestro, Corpus Christi IceRays – Cam Knight, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Sean Lang, Coulee Region Chill – Lucas Little, Keystone Ice Miners – Jon Lizotte, Minot Minotauros – Kyle Meeh, Springfield Jr. Blues – Tanner Okeson, Aberdeen Wings – Anton Santesson, Lone Star Brahmas – Alex Smith, Janesville Jets – Nick Wallace, Bismarck Bobcats
Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Alex Bitsakis, Bismarck Bobcats
The Bismarck Bobcats have a storied tradition of developing top-level goaltenders that move onto the next level and it appears they have found their next one in Alex Bitsakis. The 20-year-old from Montreal, Quebec, was remarkably consistent in October despite the fact the Bobcats went just 3-7-0 during the month. Bitsakis (6’0/190) was in goal for all three wins during the month and posted an even 3-3-0 record. He also faced 204 shots during the month and stopped 191 of those shots, which was good for a 93.6% save percentage. Bistakis also posted a sparkling 1.98 goals against average during the month, which included one shutout. On October 20th, he was named the NAHL Central Division Star of the Week for his efforts as the Bobcats posted wins over Austin and Aberdeen. For the 2014-15 season, Bitsakis ranks 4th in the NAHL on both goals against average (1.99) and save percentage (93.0%). He also is in the top 10 in saves and wins. “Alex gave us a chance to win every night and that type of consistency is what we look for in our goalies. We weren’t happy with our month as a team, but Alex’s play was no doubt a bright spot,” said Bismarck head coach Layne Sedevie. “Alex uses his size very well. I think he is very efficient with his movement. He is square to the puck and he can recover quickly. The opportunities have been there for him to perform and he answered the bell.”
Bitsakis, who spent last year playing junior hockey in Canada, believes that his shift to the NAHL was the right decision. “I think we have a really good team here in Bismarck that is still trying to find its game and consistency, but I feel it getting closer. We have proven we can win tough hockey games, so it should start turning around. I just want to play a consistent game and give my team a chance to win. The NAHL has so many skilled players and the game moves very fast. There is a lot of talent. Guys are happy to be playing here because you know you are going to get better as a player and get the opportunity to move on to the next level. That is one of the reasons I am happy to be in Bismarck. They have such a great track record and reputation and now that I am here, I am motivated to keep playing and keep getting better,” said Bitsakis.
Runner-Up: Eric Hancock, Brookings Blizzard
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Vaughan Ahrens, Minnesota Magicians – TJ Black, Lone Star Brahmas – Adam Carlson, Coulee Region Chill – Niko Dellamaggorie, Springfield Jr. Blues – Alec Derks, Kenai River Brown Bears – Matt Jurusik, Janesville Jets – Brock Kautz, Minnesota Wilderness - Nick Kossoff, Keystone Ice Miners – Andrew Lindgren, Corpus Christi IceRays – Anton Martinsson, Amarillo Bulls – Andrew Shortridge, Aberdeen Wings – Atte Tolvanen, Minot Minotauros – Drew Vogler, Topeka RoadRunners
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 www.eastonhockey.com
Vaughn is the official Goaltending Equipment Partner to the NAHL and serves as the Preferred Goaltending Equipment Supplier of the NA3HL and NAPHL. Founded in 1982, Vaughn became one of the first major hockey production companies to use multiple foam layers in equipment. As strictly a goalie equipment company, the main focus for Vaughn is the innovation and quality of their product. Visit Vaughn online at: www.vaughnhockey.com