The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of January. The Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Reggie Lutz from the Fairbanks Ice Dogs. The Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Dalton Skelly from the Lone Star Brahmas. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Hunter Shepard from the Bismarck Bobcats. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Reggie Lutz, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
As the Fairbanks Ice Dogs solidified their Midwest Division lead in the month of January, forward Reggie Lutz, 19, had his best individual month in the NAHL helping his club to a 9-2-0 record in 11 games. The native of Elk River, Minnesota, posted 20 points (12 goals, 8 assists) during the month and was a +8. Lutz (5’10/175) recorded at least a point in nine of the 11 games played in January and had six multi-point games, which saw him rattle off a stretch of nine games in a row with at least one point. Of his twelve goals scored in January, five came on the power play and one came shorthanded. In 41 games played to date, Lutz has 37 points, which ranks 5th on the Ice Dogs roster. “Reggie has really had a great start to 2016. He has been competing, developing nice chemistry with his linemates and getting a lot of pucks to the net,” said Fairbanks head coach Trevor Stewart.
“I owe a lot of credit during the month to my linemates Tyler Tomberlin and Adam Anderson. We really clicked in December and into January. It helps a lot to know where they are and they are veteran guys, so they understand the game and the league really well and that has helped,” said Lutz. “Short term, I have been in touch with some NCAA programs and the process of evaluating and comparing different schools and teams has been a very exciting one for me. It is a life-long dream to play in the NCAA. Longer term, I want to continue to work hard and trying to become a complete player. I want to be the guy that coach puts out there in the key situations of the game to get the job done.”
Runner-Up: Aaron Herdt, Bismarck Bobcats
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Alex Berardinelli, Lone Star Brahmas – Blake Busch, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – Pierce Crawford, Minnesota Magicians – Dominik Florian, Coulee Region Chill – Gilbert Gabor, Austin Bruins – Adam Goodsir, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Andrew Hart, Topeka RoadRunners – Drake Lindsay, Corpus Christi IceRays – Casey Linkenheld, Johnstown Tomahawks – Michael Merulla, Aston Rebels - Christian Mohs, Minot Minotauros – Joey Molinaro, Amarillo Bulls – Matt Pulver, Aberdeen Wings – Hampus Sjodahl, Odessa Jackalopes – Brady Tomlak, Springfield Jr. Blues – Alex Toscano, Minnesota Wilderness
Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Dalton Skelly, Lone Star Brahmas
The Lone Star Brahmas kept pace in the 2nd spot in the South Division in January and veteran defenseman Dalton Skelly, 20, was the latest defenseman for the Brahmas to step up and contribute in a big way. The hometown native of Dallas, Texas, recorded nine points in 11 games during the month and led the team with a +8 rating. Skelly (5’10/180) recorded at least a point in eight of the 11 games and had a stretch of five games in a row in January with at least one point. Of his nine points in January, four were goals and five were assists, and also included two game-winning goals. Skelly was also selected to play in this month’s NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the South Division team. His 24 points to date currently ranks him tied for 5th among NAHL defensemen. “Dalton is very effective on the offensive side of things, but what makes him so valuable is that it doesn’t come at the expense of his defensive responsibilities. He is very mobile and knows how to get pucks to the net, but his attention to detail at both ends of the ice has really set him apart. There has been some serious interest and I know he would be a guy that could benefit an NCAA program,” said Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong.
Skelly said that looking back on the month, he said that as the season has gone along, he has gotten more comfortable with the surroundings. “It is great to be playing at home and in an environment that breeds success and has a tremendous fan base. I could not ask or anything more in my final year in the league. We have a great coaching staff and I really think we are in a good spot heading into the final strectch of the regular season,” said Skelly. “I was very honored to be selected for Top Prospects. All of the players know what’s at stake when you play in the event and the kind of exposure and opportunity in brings, so I am excited that hopefully something good comes out of it.”
Runner-Up: Brennan Kapcheck, Aston Rebels
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Ryan Cook, Aberdeen Wings – Holden Cronin, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Paul DeNaples, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – Tyler Hall, Amarillo Bulls – Janis Jaks, Minnesota Wilderness – Seth Kamrass, Topeka RoadRunners – James LaDouce, Minot Minotauros – Cody Lichtenvoort, Corpus Christi IceRays – Anthony Scarsella, Springfield Jr. Blues – Cole Souto, Bismarck Bobcats – Jakob Stridsberg, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Hunter Shepard, Bismarck Bobcats
As the Runner-Up for Goaltender of the Month in December, Bismarck Bobcats goalie Hunter Shepard took his game to the next level in January and played a huge roll in helping his team into 1st place in the Central Division. The 20-year-old native of Cohasset, Minnesota, was a perfect 8-0-0 during the month of January, a rare feat for any NAHL goalie during a month-long stretch. Shepard (6’0/200) saw 241 shots during the month and made 224 saves, which was good for a 1.97 goals against average and 93% save percentage in January. Shepard his won six games in a row and is currently tied for the NAHL lead in wins with 23. His five shutouts to date ranks 2nd in the league. Shepard was selected to play in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the Central Division team. “I've said it many times by now, but at the start of the year we felt that Hunter was the best goalie in the league and his stats have had him in that discussion all year. He's got all the tools and talent to go very far in this sport, but what really sets him apart is his work ethic. He's the captain of our hockey team, the first guy to the rink every morning, he's putting in the work in the gym all week and is constantly reviewing film, all in an effort to better himself and help his team win,” said Bismarck head coach Layne Sedevie.
“I think our been team has a lot of talent on it, but it took a little while to get going. We have been doing things the right way all season long, but things have really come together the last couple of months because the guys have really worked hard and listened to the coaches. We knew that if we stuck to our game, it was just a matter of time that we got better and better as a team,” said Shepard. “I think we are focused on winning the division and making a run to the Robertson Cup. The coaching staff always talks about success as a team and not worrying so much about individual success, so I am hoping with that team success will continue my individual success and a opportunity at the next level.”
Runner-Up: Matiss Kivlenieks, Coulee Region Chill
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Darion Hanson, Aston Rebels – Graham Hunt, Corpus Christi IceRays – Luke Kania, Minnesota Wilderness – Justin Kapelmaster, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Tommy Nappier, Springfield Jr. Blues – Gavin Nieto, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Juho Niku, Topeka RoadRunners – Gunner Rivers, Minot Minotauros – Andrey Svistunov, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – Peter Thome, Aberdeen Wings
Easton Hockey continues to rank atop the industry in sticks and gloves and is growing faster in skates than any other company. It also offers a comprehensive collection of protective gear including helmets and pants. To learn more, go to www.eastonhockey.com
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