NAHL, Jackalopes alum Hellebuyck called up to NHL
November 24, 2015
Could NAHL and Odessa Jackalopes alum Connor Hellebuyck be making his NHL debut soon?
The Winnipeg Jets, in conjunction with its AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, announced they have recalled goaltender Connor Hellebuyck from the Moose.
Hellebuyck, 22, has played in 10 games this season with the Manitoba Moose, posting a save percentage of .927 and has a 2.41 goals against average. The Commerce, MI native has made 303 saves and has a 2-7-1 record in those 10 games. Hellebuyck has played in 68 AHL games with the St. John’s IceCaps and now Manitoba Moose, posting an overall record of 30-29-6. Hellebuyck was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the fifth round, 130th overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Just last spring, he was invited to play for Team USA at the IIHF Men's World Championship. He may have been the single-biggest reason that a youth-laden US squad made it all the way to the semifinals and eventually won a surprising bronze medal. Hellebuyck went 7-1 in the tournament, with a .948 save percentage. Having played with and against NHL’ers and excelling, he proved he was just about ready to make the jump to the big leagues.
Hellebuyck was the back-up goalie to Michael Hutchinson in a 4-1 home loss against the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night. Winnipeg’s next game is in Washington against the Capitals on Wednesday night.
Hellebuyck, 21, began his junior hockey career with the NAHL with the Odessa Jackalopes in 2011-12. The Commerce, MI native won 26 of the Jackalopes 27 overall wins that season, and propelled the Jacks to a playoff berth in their first season in the NAHL. Hellebuyck raked in the hardware that year as well. Hellebuyck was named Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, All-NAHL First Team, All-South Division Team, and NAHL All-Rookie Team during that storybook season. Hellebuyck was also the Jackalopes first ever Division I college commit, signing his letter of intent to play at UMass-Lowell.
In 2012-13 during his freshman season at Lowell, Hellebuyck led his team all the way to a Frozen Four appearance before falling to Yale in the National Semifinals. In his freshman season, Hellebuyck set UMass-Lowell single-season records in both save percentage (.952) and goals against average (1.37).
In his sophomore season in 2013-14, Hellebuyck was the inaugural Mike Richter Award winner as the top goaltender in college hockey. He was also named to the All-Hockey East First Team, and the Hockey East All-Tournament Team. Hellebuyck was named an AHCA All-American in his second season with the RiverHawks.
In the spring of 2014, Hellebuyck decided to forgo his final two seasons at UMass-Lowell and signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets.