The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of December. The Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Regen Cavanagh from the Corpus Christi IceRays. The Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Patrik Demel from the Bismarck Bobcats. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Gavin Nieto from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Regen Cavanagh, Corpus Christi IceRays
Corpus Christi forward Regen Cavanagh, 18, helped his club get back on track during the month of December with a 6-2 record as the IceRays moved into playoff position in the South Division. The rookie and native of Chesapeake, Virginia, led the IceRays with 11 points in the month of December in just eight games. That included four goals, seven assists, three multi-point games and one game-winning goal. What was even more impressive was the fact that a week into the pre-season, Cavanagh suffered a freak injury in practice where he broke most of the bones in his face. While postponing surgery until after the season, Cavanagh (5’11/170) has recorded 14 points (11 of which came in December) in just 18 games played this season. “What an accomplishment coming from a young kid that suffered a serious facial injury prior to the season starting. To see Regen perform at such a high level after missing the first 12 games is a tribute to his commitment level. He has been a big part of our recent success. It is always nice when you are recognized publicly for your efforts,” said IceRays head coach Jon Becanic.
Cavanagh said that the biggest difference in December for he and the IceRays was a matter of team confidence. “We have been playing hard for one another all season long, but once the wins started to come, that’s when everyone started to play at a different level and play with a lot more confidence. We went into games expecting to win. That is the expectation every time we walk into the lockerroom,” said Cavanagh. “I am fortunate that my linemates are playing pretty well and we have continued to do a good job at creating offense. Hopefully we all can continue to play well and try and bring a cup here to Corpus Christi.”
Runner-Up: Ryner Gorowsky, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Cameron Cook, Kenai River Brown Bears – Tucker DeYoung, Aberdeen Wings – Casey Jerry, Minnesota Magicians – Carson Knopp, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – Dominic Lutz, Topeka RoadRunners – Mike Merulla, Aston Rebels – Jack Murphy, Minot Minotauros – Jared Pike, Bismarck Bobcats – Charlie Singerhouse, Amarillo Bulls – Trevor Stone, Springfield Jr. Blues
Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Patrik Demel, Bismarck Bobcats
Another team that climbed the standings in December was the Bismarck Bobcats, who went 6-1-1 during the month. Leading the team in scoring in December was defenseman Patrik Demel. The native of Ostrava, Czech Republic, had 10 points in eight games during the month, which included a goal and nine assists along with a +4 rating. Demel (5’11/185) had three, multi-point games and a four point outing in a 6-3 win back on December 5th in Minot. For the season, Demel has 18 points from the blueline in 26 games played so far this season. “Patrik's offensive skill helped our power play break out in December, but even more importantly he showed is a strong defender with good vision and hands,” said Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie.
“I think the month of December was a good one because the team started to do the little things that made us successful, me included,” said Demel. “I think once we started listening to the coaches and keeping things simple, success started to follow. I think that our special teams play, especially on the power play, was a huge key to us getting better. When stayed true to playing good systems, momentum eventually started to go our way and that’s when things start to go in your favor. I just want to keep improving everyday and hopefully an NCAA opportunity will follow,” said Demel.
Runner-Up: Jakob Stridsberg, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Jared Brandt, Minot Minotauros – Cameron Clarke, Lone Star Brahmas – Ryan Cook, Aberdeen Wings – Tyler Hall, Amarillo Bulls – Jake Hartje, Kenai River Brown Bears – Tyler Hayes, Topeka RoadRunners – Colton Meekhof, Corpus Christi IceRays – Jerry Miettuten, Aston Rebels – Joe Nathe, Minnesota Magicians – Anthony Scarsella, Springfield Jr. Blues – Dmitriy Zaitsev, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Gavin Nieto, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs held firm atop the NAHL’s Midwest Division with a 6-0-1 record in December. Goalie Gavin Nieto, 19, posted a perfect 6-0 record during the month and to top things off, he made an NCAA Division I commitment on December 22nd to Brown University. Nieto (6’1/180) faced a total of 138 shots in December and made 130 saves, good for a 94.2% save percentage and 1.33 goal against average during the month. That included a shutout on December 5th over Kenai River. For the season, the native of Yorba Linda, California, currently leads the NAHL in goals against average (1.85), is tied for 2nd in wins (16) and is in the top 10 in save percentage. “Gavin had a very good month, provided the team leadership, made timely saves and excelled in situations for his team to have success. He was rewarded with his efforts with an opportunity to play Division I college hockey,” said Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart.
“I owe a lot to my teammates, because they were great all month long. Whenever there was a loose puck or a rebound, they always seemed to be there to help me out. I think the success in the month of December was an all-around team effort,” said Nieto. As for his commitment to Brown University, Nieto said he is really excited to be going to the next level. “It has always been a dream of mine to play NCAA Division I hockey, so when they showed an interest, it was a pretty easy decision for me given their academic and athletic reputation. I am going to now focus on being a better goalie the rest of the season so we can hopefully bring a cup back to Fairbanks,” said Nieto.
Runner-Up: Hunter Shepard, Bismarck Bobcats
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Graham Hunt, Corpus Christi IceRays – Anton Martinsson, Amarillo Bulls – Trevor Micucci, Aston Rebels – Tommy Nappier, Springfield Jr. Blues - Nick Nast, Kenai River Brown Bears – Juho Niku, Topeka RoadRunners – Andre Svistunov, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton – Peter Thome, Aberdeen Wings
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Vaughn is the official Goaltending Equipment Partner to the NAHL and serves as the Preferred Goaltending Equipment Supplier of the NA3HL and NAPHL. Founded in 1982, Vaughn became one of the first major hockey production companies to use multiple foam layers in equipment. As strictly a goalie equipment company, the main focus for Vaughn is the innovation and quality of their product. Visit Vaughn online at: www.vaughnhockey.com