NAHL Alumni Update
December 10, 2015
In this week’s NAHL alumni update, we earlier chronicled the remarkable start to Connor Hellebuyck’s NHL career and this week we feature several of alumni who were honored at both the NCAA Division I and Division III levels, along with a player of the week in the ECHL.
ECAC Rookie of the Week: Alec McCrea, Cornell University
McCrea led league freshman in scoring last weekend while also playing top-four minutes on the blue-line in the Big Red's sweep of the North Country teams. He posted Cornell's first three-point effort this season in Saturday's 5-2 win over Clarkson, which included his first collegiate goal early in the third period. He was also a plus-1 in Friday's 2-1 win over St. Lawrence. The rookie defenseman finished with a plus-3 rating for the two games. McCrea is not only an alumni of the NAHL, but for the NAPHL as well. During the 2011-12 season, he played in the NAHL for the Janesville Jets. The year prior, he played in the NAPHL for the California Titans 16U team.
Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week: Rob Nichols, UConn
Nichols backstopped the UConn Huskies to two wins over then-No. 5 UMass Lowell in a home-and-home series, stopping 57 shots in the two outings. Sunday afternoon, Nichols denied a River Hawks' penalty shot with the score tied 1-1 late in the third period to preserve the tie game. It marked the first ever Hockey East weekend sweep for UConn since joining the conference in 2014-15. Nichols spent two full seasons playing in the NAHL for the Wenatchee Wild from 2011-13.
NCHC Rookie of the Week: Jacob Nehama, Colorado College
Nehama had the best weekend of his young career in backstopping CC to a sweep of Miami – the Tigers’ first ever home sweep in NCHC play and first home sweep in conference play since November of 2012. He earned his first conference win on Friday, making 20 saves while allowing a career-low one goal in a 2-1 victory as he was named the game’s second star. On Saturday, Nehama turned aside 34 shots, the second-highest total of his career, while conceding just two goals in a 3-2 victory. He garnered the game’s third star on Saturday while extending his and the team’s win streak to three games. On the weekend, Nehama posted a .947 save percentage, stopping 54 of 57 shots faced, and a 1.50 goals against average. He also helped the Tigers go 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in the series, making five saves on Miami’s power plays. Nehama played in the NAHL for the Lone Star Brahmas during the 2013-14 season.
WCHA Rookie of the Week: Gage Torrel, Lake Superior State
Torrel contributed a three-point weekend – tops among WCHA rookies – in helping Lake Superior State to its first road sweep since Feb. 21-22, 2014. The freshmen from Monticello, Minn. factored in both Lakers' goals during a 2-0, sweep-clinching victory Saturday at Alaska. Torrel broke a scoreless tie with a short-handed strike at the 18:41 mark of the second period for his first collegiate game-winning goal, and then assisted on a Lakers' empty-net strike that sealed the victory. Torrel also assisted on a second-period, power-play goal Friday night that drew LSSU even at 1-1 en route to an eventual 4-2 victory. Torrel spent the 2011-12 season playing in the NAHL for the Alexandria Blizzard.
The Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL on Wednesday signed goaltender Pat Nagle to a professional tryout. Nagle owns a 2.51 goals against average along with a 0.910 save percentage and a 5-4-0 record in 10 games with the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets this season. The Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native will be making his second stint in Grand Rapids after he appeared in two games for the Griffins during the 2014-15 campaign. Nagle recorded a 0.78 GAA and a 0.971 save percentage, and he earned his first win as a Griffin by tallying 29 saves during a 5-1 victory over Utica on Jan. 23. Before joining the professional ranks, Nagle spent four seasons at Ferris State University from 2007-11 and accumulated a 2.32 GAA and a 45-42-11 record. Prior to that he spent the 2006-07 season with the St. Louis Bandits in the NAHL, leading them to their first of three straight Robertson Cup titles.
Quad City Mallards’ defenseman Mike Monfredo is the ECHL Player of the Week for Nov. 30-Dec. 6. Monfredo scored one goal and added three assists for four points in two games last week. The 25-year-old tallied an assist in a 2-1 win at Cincinnati on Tuesday and scored the game-winning goal and added two assists in a 6-5 overtime win at Evansville on Sunday. A native of Shirley, N.Y., Monfredo ranks third among ECHL?defensemen with 18 points (3g-15a) in 23 games this season. Monfredo has 46 points (11g-35a) in 95 career ECHL games with Quad City. He also suited up for the Mallards in 132 Central Hockey League games from 2012-14, picking up 52 points (12g-30a). Monfredo is a 3-year former NAHL veteran, playing for the Motor City Metal Jackets/Machine from 2008-11.
Former Wichita Falls Wildcats/Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings defenseman Chris Leone was named to the D3hockey.com team of the week. Leone led all Adrian blueliners with three points and 13 shots while producing a plus-4 rating as the Bulldogs earned a NCHA sweep over Finlandia, 9-2 and 8-1. In the series finale, he had three points against the Lions. He anchored a defensive corps that allowed only eight shots. He played in the NAHL for three seasons from 2009-12.
Former Fairbanks Ice Dogs/Odessa Jackalopes/Owatonna Express forward Lawrence Cornellier was also named to the D3hockey.com team of the week. Cornellier scored his first-career hat trick to spur No. 6 UW-Stevens Point to a 5-3 conference win over UW-Superior on Saturday evening. The junior's hat trick was the first by a UWSP player in 54 games since Jan. 25, 2014. Cornellier's first goal of the night tied the game at 2-2 late in the first period and his second made it 3-3 in the final minute of the second period. He then finished off the hat trick with an empty-net goal with 19 seconds remaining to seal the 5-3 victory. His nine goals this season lead the team and rank second in the WIAC. Cornellier played in the NAHL from 2010-13.
Former Coulee Region Chill defenseman David Ripple was named to the D3hockey.com team of the week. Ripple was credited with a goal and an assist in the SUNY-Geneseo Knights' 6-2 victory over Potsdam on Friday before also notching the game-winning goal to go along with an assist in Saturday's 5-4 victory over top-ranked Plattsburgh. Against the Cardinals, he scored the deciding goal with 2:05 remaining in regulation on a rising slap shot from the top of the right face-off circle that made its way through a crowded crease to complete the upset. Ripple played two full seasons in the NAHL for the Chill from 2010-12.
In advance of the 2016 World Junior Championships' top division tournament slated to begin the day after Christmas in Helsinki, Finland, Bismarck Bobcat and NAHL alumnus Roope Hintz has been invited to Team Finland's final WJC camp that begins Sunday. Finland's final camp features 27 invitees; the roster will be trimmed to 23 by Christmas. Hintz, who played with the Cats during the 2012-13 season, also played for Finland at World Juniors in 2015, picking up two assists--including one in the quarterfinals against eventual Bronze Medalist Sweden--as the Finns placed seventh in last year's event. The 2015 Dallas Stars NHL Draft pick is the only current or former Bobcat to play in the top division at the World Junior Championships.
Former NAHL and Corpus Christi IceRays goaltender Pheonix Copley (2010-11) earned the lion’s share of games this weekend with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, and though he may have split his two decisions the set was productive for the second-year man. On Wednesday, he stopped a season-high 35 of 37 shots in an 8-2 rout of the Manitoba Moose on home ice. It’s the fourth time in the past two seasons that the Alaskan has made 35 saves or more and the first time this year. Three nights later, the result didn’t fall Copley’s way, making 30 saves on 33 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins on the road. His two games keeps his goals-against average at 2.58 but his save percentage rises above .900 once again.