The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Easton Hockey for the week ending January 3, 2016. The Easton Hockey Divisional Stars of the Week is a weekly feature during the 2015-16 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: Hunter Shepard, goaltender, Bismarck Bobcats
Bismarck Bobcats netminder Hunter Shepard, 20, kept his good play going with literally a perfect week as he led the Bobcats to two more wins during the week in his starts and three wins for the team overall. The native of Cohasset, MN, stopped all 35 shots that came his way in the two games with a home win over Minot and a road win against Brookings to move the Bobcats into a tie for 1st place in the Central Division. On New Year’s Eve, Shepard (6’0/200) stopped all 15 shots that came his way in a 3-0 home win over Minot. On Saturday, he made 20 saves in a 3-0 shutout in Brookings of the Blizzard. Shepard currently leads the NAHL in shutouts with five. “Through half the season, Hunter has been our best player and a huge reason we've stayed right in the divisional race. This past weekend he made some big saves in big spots on grade-A scoring opportunities to give us a chance to win Thursday and Saturday,” said Bismarck head coach Layne Sedevie.
2nd Star: Peter Thome, G, Aberdeen Wings
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Kevin Fitzgerald, F, Aberdeen Wings – Alex Strand, F, Bismarck Bobcats
East Division Star of the Week: Andrew Romano, forward, Johnstown Tomahawks
Johnstown Tomahawks forward Andrew Romano, 20, helped his team to a weekend sweep of the Kenai River Brown Bears with wins on Thursday and Saturday. The native of Drexel Hill, PA, contributed in both wins with a total of three points, including two goals and a +3 rating. On New Year’s Eve, Romano (5’8/165) had a goal and an assist in a 6-3 win. On Saturday, he scored the game-winning goal, which came shorthanded, in a 3-1 win. For the season, Romano is tied for the team scoring lead with 32 points in 35 games played. “Andrew had a great weekend for us coming out of our Christmas break. He had a ton of energy and was making plays all over the ice, in addition to being a 200-foot player. He was right in the middle of our success and the timeliness of both game-winning goals from the two games. He is a kid that has been great for us all season long, and he is deserving of this recognition from this past weekend without question,” said Johnstown head coach Mike Letizia.
2nd Star: Darion Hanson, G, Aston Rebels
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Mike Merulla, F, Aston Rebels
Midwest Division Star of the Week: Tommy Nappier, goaltender, Springfield Jr. Blues
Springfield Jr. Blues goalie Tommy Nappier, 17, led his team to a weekend road sweep of the Minnesota Magicians as the native of St. Louis, MO, stopped 57 of 59 shots in the two wins. Nappier (6’3/195) stopped all 23 shots that came his way in Saturday’s 6-0 win to post his first career NAHL shutout. On Sunday, the Ohio State recruit made 44 saves in a 4-2 win. For the season, Nappier has a 11-6-3 record with a 2.29 goals against average and a 92.7% save percentage. He is also listed on NHL Central Scouting’s Players to Watch list. “Tommy was clearly the difference maker for us this weekend. Saturday night, he made some key saves early while our guys were finding their stride. Sunday, he came up big and was a big reason we won,” said Jr. Blues head coach Tony Zasowski.
2nd Star: Matiss Kivlenieks, G, Coulee Region Chill
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Brennan Blaszczak, F, Springfield Jr. Blues – Justin Bofshever, F, Kenai River Brown Bears – Cam Cook, F, Kenai River Brown Bears – Casey Gilling, F, Minnesota Wilderness – Kip Hoffman, F, Janesville Jets – Jack LaFontaine, G, Janesville Jets – Niko Luka, D, Coulee Region Chill – Aaron Miller, F, Minnesota Wilderness – Luke Orysiuk, D, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Tyler Tomberlin, F, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
South Division Star of the Week: Graham Hunt, goaltender, Corpus Christi IceRays
It was a big week for goaltender Graham Hunt and the Corpus Christi IceRays. The native of Concord, MA, helped the IceRays to four win in five days last week as they extended their overall winning streak to five straight games. In the four games, Hunt (6’2/178) made 103 saves, while allowing just six goals. On Tuesday, Hunt made 27 saves in an 5-4 overtime win against Odessa. He followed that up the next day with 32 saves in the 4-1 win over the Jackalopes. Two days later, Hunt posted his first shutout of the season with 20 saves in a 3-0 road win in Topeka. On Saturday, Hunt made 21 saves in a 2-1 win in Topeka, which completed a weekend road sweep. For the season, Hunt has a 9-8-2 record with a 2.46 goals against average and a 91.9% save percentage. “This is a very well deserved honor for Graham. He won all four games this past week and he was outstanding in Topeka making several key saves at critical points of the game,” said IceRays head coach Jon Becanic.
2nd Star: Justin Kapelmaster, G, Wichita Falls Wildcats
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Cameron Clarke, D, Lone Star Brahmas – Brad LeLievre, F, Corpus Christi IceRays – Aleksi Poikola, F, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Quinn Preston, F, Topeka RoadRunners – Charlie Singerhouse, F, Amarillo Bulls – Cody Wickline, F, Lone Star Brahmas