The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Easton Hockey for the week ending February 15, 2015. The Easton Hockey Divisional Stars of the Week is a weekly feature during the 2014-15 regular season that honors the top performing players in each of the four NAHL divisions. Only players that are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the Divisional Players of the Week award.
Central Division Star of the Week: Alex Bitsakis, goalie, Bismarck Bobcats
Although he played in just one game over the weekend, Bismarck goalie Alex Bitsakis, 20, made it count as the native of Montreal, Quebec, helped the Bobcats pick up a 1-0 shootout win on the road in Minot on Saturday. Bitsakis (6’0/190) stopped all 43 shots that came his way through regulation and overtime and then stopped three of four shooters in the shootout to pick up the win. The 43 saves were the second most in a game this season and the shutout was his third of the year. “Every point is so important at this time of the year and we knew we'd need excellent goaltending to get two in Minot. Alex responded with one of his best games of the season against the top offense in the central division,” said Bismarck head coach Layne Sedevie.
2nd Star: Jake Kielly, G, Austin Bruins
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Brian Bachnak, F, Austin Bruins – Andrew Shortridge, G, Aberdeen Wings – Bjorn Sigurdarson, F, Aberdeen Wings – Atte Tolvanen, G, Minot Minotauros – Cullen Willox, F, Bismarck Bobcats
Midwest Division Star of the Week: Niklas Lehtimaki, forward, Minnesota Wilderness
Minnesota Wilderness forward Niklas Lehtimaki, 19, helped his team stay in 1st place in the Midwest Division with two wins this past week, recording points in both. The 5’11/194 lbs. native of Kiukainen, Finland recorded three goals and an assist in the two wins and was a +3. On Thursday night, Lehtimaki had a hat-trick in a 5-3 home win over the Coulee Region Chill. On Saturday, he recorded an assist in a 5-4 overtime win on the road against the Minnesota Magicians. For the season, Lehtimaki is 3rd on the team with 19 goals and has 32 points in 38 games played. “Nick is a very talented kid and had a good weekend scoring a few big goals at key moments,” said Wilderness head coach Corey Millen.
2nd Star: Sam Becker, D, Minnesota Magicians
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Tyler Cline, F, Minnesota Wilderness – Ryner Gorowsky, F, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Alex Jackstadt, F, Kenai River Brown Bears – Robin Karlsson, D, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Adam Lovick, F, Coulee Region Chill – Tanner Schachle, F, Kenai River Brown Bears – Richard Zehnal, F, Coulee Region Chill
North Division Star of the Week: Matt Jurusik, goalie, Janesville Jets
There were some great performances in the North Division this week, but when a goalie continues his shutout streak of over 190 minutes to his team to two consecutive 1-0 road wins over the weekend, it is something special. That’s what Janesville goalie Matt Jurusik, 17, did this past weekend as the Jets swept the Keystone Ice Miners. On Friday, the native of La Grange, Illinois, stopped all 45 shots that came his way in a 1-0 shutout. On Saturday, Jurusik (6’1/195) made 22 saves in another 1-0 shutout. For the weekend, he stopped all 67 shots that came his way and he has gone the last 190 minutes without allowing a goal. His 24 wins leads the NAHL and his 1.73 goals against average ranks 2nd. "Matt was very solid for us in goal this past weekend. In games like that, it's important to get good goaltending in key situations to have an opportunity to win games, and that is exactly what we got from him this weekend. He gave us the opportunity to win two hockey games when we were having trouble scoring,” said Jets head coach Joe Dibble.
2nd Star: Tyler Groat, F, Michigan Warriors
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Chad Catt, G, Soo Eagles – Matt Jones, F, Keystone Ice Miners – Mitch Vanderburg, F, Soo Eagles
South Division Star of the Week: Max Reisinger, forward, Wichita Falls Wildcats
Wichita Falls forward Max Reisinger, 19, helped his club to two more wins in a weekend home sweep of the Odessa Jackalopes. The 6’0/200 lbs. native of Walding, Austria, had multi-point nights in both wins as the Wildcats offense exploded for 10 goals in the two games. On Friday night, Reisinger had a pair of assists in a 5-4 win. On Saturday, he scored a goal and had another assist in a 5-2 win. For the season, Reisinger has 29 points in 38 games played. His 15 goals ranks 5th on the team. “Max has really elevated his level of play over the past few months. He has worked hard all year to put himself in a position to be a key player for our team, and he has been exactly that thanks to that hard work and his ability to finish around the net and create plays for others. We are excited to see him find his stride with the Top Prospects Tournament right around the corner,” said Wildcats head coach John LaFontaine.
2nd Star: Michael Bullion, G, Wenatchee Wild
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Charlie Combs, F, Amarillo Bulls – Kasper Emanuelsson, D, Amarillo Bulls – Logan Gestro, D, Corpus Christi IceRays – Brendan Harris, F, Wenatchee Wild – Yu Hikosaka, F, Topeka RoadRunners – Dominic Lutz, F, Topeka RoadRunners – Wes Michaud, F, Corpus Christi IceRays – Jake Townsend, D, Wichita Falls