The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of February. The Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Taylor Fernandez from the Janesville Jets. The Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Cameron Clarke from the Lone Star Brahmas. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Matiss Kivlenieks from the Coulee Region Chill. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Easton Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Taylor Fernandez, Janesville Jets
Janesville Jets forward Taylor Fernandez, 21, couldn’t have had better timing to play some of the best hockey of the season, let alone his NAHL career. The veteran forward, who has had a very productive NAHL career spanning three seasons, had a tremendous month of February to keep the Janesville Jets firmly in the playoff race in the Midwest Division. The native of Northville, Michigan, played in eight games during the month as the Jets posted a 5-2-1 record. Fernandez (5’11/185) recorded 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) and had two game-winning goals. That included recording at least a point in seven of the eight outings and a +3 rating. In 44 games this season, Fernandez is 3rd in team scoring with 38 points. Fernandez also played in the 2015 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the North Division team. In 150 career NAHL games, he has recorded 91 points. “Taylor ?has been a reliable leader and scorer for us all season. He is not only producing offensively but he has been very reliable in all three zones for us thus far.? He brings 100% everyday no matter what and that is a main reason we will lean on him as we enter the home stretch of the playoff race,” said Jets head coach Joe Dibble.
“I think things really clicked during the month because I got two new linemates and sometimes a change like that does everyone some good. In my case, I just think it was refreshing some things and maybe matching guys up who had skill sets that complimented one another better,” said Fernandez. “Knowing that its my last season in the league, I have been working hard to earn an NCAA opportunity because that has been a long-term goal of mine. I am in the right place because I really like playing in Janesville for Coach Dibble. He really challenges the players and we understand that hard work is the key.”
Runner-Up: Larry Jungwirth, Coulee Region Chill
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Alex Berardinelli, Lone Star Brahmas – Ryan Bloom, Minnesota Wilderness – Todd Burgess, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Regen Cavanagh, Corpus Christi IceRays – Trent Dillinger, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Tyler Jeanson, Minot Minotauros – Casey Jerry, Minnesota Magicians –Matt Long, Springfield Jr. Blues - Mike Merulla, Aston Rebels – Coale Norris, Amarillo Bulls – Anthony Parrucci, Johnstown Tomahawks – Quinn Preston, Topeka RoadRunners – Matt Pulver, Aberdeen Wings – Hampus Sjodahl, Odessa Jackalopes – Roberts Smits, New Jersey Titans – Alex Strand, Bismarck Bobcats
Easton Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Cameron Clarke, Lone Star Brahmas
Lone Star Brahmas defenseman Cameron Clarke, 19, has once again set himself apart with another outstanding month, which earned him his second monthly award of the season. The native of Tecumseh, Michigan, who also won NAHL Defenseman of the Month for November, had another outstanding performance in February as he posted nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) and a +3 rating during the month as the 2nd place Brahmas went 7-2 in nine games. The Ferris State recruit recorded at least a points in eight of the nine games and had a game-winning goal. Clarke (6’2/180) also played in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament during the month for the NAHL Selects team, who went 2-0 at the event. Clarke, who caught the eye of several NHL scouts at the event, had a goal and was +4 in the two wins. He currently leads all NAHL defensemen in scoring with 42 points in 49 games played. During the 2013-14 season, Clarke played in the NAPHL for the West Michigan Hounds. “I can’t say enough about Cam. He has been playing unbelievable and has gone from a guy that two years ago was playing in the NAPHL to now being someone that is on the radar of NHL scouts,” said Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong. “He brings a lot to our team’s offense because he is such a great distributor of the puck and is very smart with the puck. As soon as his body catches up with his hockey sense, I truly believe he will be capable of playing in the NHL one day.”
“I think getting the NCAA commitment out of the way early was huge because I could just focus on my game and also becoming a better player. My coaches and team let me play my game here and a big part of that is the offensive side, which I think has really been the focus of the interest from the NHL scouts,” said Clarke. “I think the Top Prospects event really helped with the exposure because the NAHL Selects team had some great players on it and we played well together. The talent level was incredible and it was a great experience for me to be there and represent my team and league.”
Runner-Up: Jeff Solow, Amarillo Bulls
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Jeff Baum, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Darren Brady, New Jersey Titans – Patrik Demel, Bismarck Bobcats – Brian Hurley, Minnesota Wilderness – James LaDouce, Minot Minotauros – Kyle Meeh, Springfield Jr. Blues - Colton Meekhof, Corpus Christi IceRays – John O’Connor, Topeka RoadRunners – Tanner Okeson, Aberdeen Wings – Alex Smith, Janesville Jets – Kyle Wagner, Minnesota Magicians
Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Matiss Kivlenieks, Coulee Region Chill
One of the major reasons for the resurgence of the Coulee Region Chill in the last two months has been 19-year-old goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks. The native of Riga, Latvia, who finished up for the Goaltender of the Month in January, did himself one better in February as the Chill stayed in the playoff hunt with a 6-2 record. Kivlenieks (6’2/190) posted a perfect 5-0 record during the month of February with a 1.77 goals against average and a 94.8% save percentage. Out of 174 total shots in the five games, Kivlenieks made 165 saves, allowing just nine goals. What makes his month more impressive is that he faced an average of almost 35 shots per game, while putting up the big numbers. Kivlenieks also played in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament during the month for the Midwest Division team, where he stopped 36 out of 39 shots in two games. Kivlenieks also represented his home country of Latvia earlier this season at the IIHF Division I Group A World Junior Championships, where he was named the top goaltender at the event as Latvia won the title. “Matiss has worked extremely hard this season. With a goalie playing as confident as he is you have a chance to win every night. Through February the most he gave up in a game was three goals, facing almost 35 shots per game in his five outings. Anytime your team is able to play in front of a goalie that is this dialed in your guys can play a little more relaxed knowing he is back there,” said Chill head coach AJ Degenhardt.
“February was a great month for everyone, but I think it has been a build up all season by the entire team. Everyone has been working hard and the lockerroom has some great chemistry right now. I think playing in the World Juniors really helped me because as a goalie, your mental preparation is just as important as your physical preparation,” said Kivlenieks. “Playing the Top Prospects event was a great experience and playing with some of the guys you compete against every day was unique. It was great to see all the scouts that attended the event and were watching us.”
Runner-Up: Hunter Shepard, Bismarck Bobcats
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Niko Della Maggorie, Springfield Jr. Blues - Corbin Kaczperski, Lone Star Brahmas – Luke Kania, Minnesota Wilderness - Justin Kapelmaster, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Jack LaFontaine, Janesville Jets – Andrew Lindgren, Johnstown Tomahawks – Dryden McKay, Corpus Christi IceRays – Trevor Micucci, Aston Rebels – Gavin Nieto, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Juho Niku, Topeka RoadRunners – Gunner Rivers, Minot Minotauros – Peter Thome, Aberdeen Wings – Will Ulrich, Minnesota Magicians – Spencer Wright, New Jersey Titans
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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