NAHL Alumni Update
December 17, 2014
Four more NAHL alumni were honored in the NCAA this past week as the accolades and accomplishments for those who played in the NAHL during their time in junior hockey continue to roll in.
With over 600 alumni currently playing in the NCAA, the NAHL is one of the top training grounds for NCAA talent. So far this season, 88 players are committed to play NCAA Division I hockey. Only one other league in North America can boast as many NCAA commitment numbers to date.
Here is a look at some of those who excelled this past week.
WCHA Defensive Player of the Week: CJ Motte, Ferris State University
Motte led Ferris State to a weekend home sweep of Lake Superior State, stopping 50-of-52 shots (.962 save percentage) with a 1.00 goals against average. The senior from St. Clair, Mich. allowed just two goals (including one power-play marker) in Friday night's 5-2 victory, before posting a 24-save shutout on Saturday night. Motte is now tied for the national lead with four shutouts this season, while his 14 career whitewashes are the most among all active NCAA netminders. He has led the Bulldogs to a 5-1-0 mark in their last six WCHA contests. Motte played in the NAHL during the 2008-09 season for the Traverse City North Stars.
WCHA Rookie of the Week: Michael Bitzer, Bemidji State University
Bitzer backstopped Bemidji State to a 1-0-1 weekend against visiting Northern Michigan, posting a 1.44 goals against average and a .929 save percentage (39-of-42) in 125 minutes between the pipes. The freshman from Moorhead, Minn. stopped 20-of-22 shots in a 4-2 win Friday, before making 19 saves in a 1-1 draw Saturday (including two in overtime). Bitzer also played a key role for the Beavers' penalty kill unit, which held the Wildcats scoreless on the power play. Bitzer played in the NAHL during the 2011-12 season for the Alexandria Blizzard.
NCHC Goaltender of the Week: Lukas Hafner, Western Michigan
Hafner backstopped the Broncos to a win and a tie against Colorado College, while also helping WMU win the shootout on Saturday. He posted a 1-0-1 record on the weekend while recording a .935 save percentage and a 1.42 goals-against average in the series. On Friday, he made 18 saves with the only goals allowed coming on the power play in a 3-2 overtime win. The next night, he stopped 25 shots, including 13 in the first period, in a 1-1 overtime tie as he was named the game’s second star. Hafner then stopped three of four attempts in the ensuing shootout to give WMU an extra point in the NCHC standings. He surrendered just three goals all weekend with only one even strength, stopping 43 of 46 shots against, and helped the Broncos go 6-of-8 on the penalty kill against CC. Hafner played in the NAHL during the 2009-10 season for the Marquette Electricians.
Atlantic Hockey Defensive Player of the Week: Alexander Kuqali, RIT
Kuqali was a main reason why RIT allowed just two goals in two weekend games against Niagara, as he blocked five shots and was plus-1 in a 4-1 victory on Friday night. Kuqali was a key cog in RIT’s penalty-killing unit that killed off all 14 Niagara power-play attempts over the weekend. RIT has killed off 31 straight overall dating back to Nov. 14 at Canisius. During the 2008-09 season, Kuqali played in the NAHL for the Alpena IceDiggers.
Other Alumni Notes:
-Former Austin Bruins and NAHL Top Prospects defenseman Christian Folin scored his first career NHL goal on December 11th.
-Former Bismarck Bobcats goalie Ryan Massa picked up both wins in net for the University of Nebraska-Omaha, making a combined 71 saves in the Mavericks’ home conference sweep of St. Cloud State.
-Former Amarillo, Wenatchee and Johnstown forward Omar Mullan is tied for 4th in NCAA Division III scoring.
-Former Wichita Falls Wildcats defenseman Alfred Johansson was named the NCHA (NCAA Division III) Defensive Player of the Week.