The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Easton Hockey for the week ending March 20, 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: Josh Kuehmichel, goaltender, Brookings Blizzard
It was a big weekend for the Brookings Blizzard, who picked up two wins and picked up some valuable points in the chase for the 4th and final playoff spot in the Central Division. Goaltender Josh Kuehmichel, 19, came up big, winning both games for the Blizzard. The native of Hopkins, Minnesota, faced 49 shots in wins over Austin and Bismarck and allowed just three goals, making 46 saves. On Friday, Kuehmichel (5’11/160) made 30 saves in a 3-1 win at Austin against the Bruins. On Saturday, he made 16 saves in a 3-2 win over division-leading Bimsarck. The four points brought the Blizzard to within three points of the final playoff spot in the Central Division. “We really needed wins this weekend and Josh stepped in and gave us the boost we need to get four very valuable points,” said Brookings head coach Dan Daikawa.
2nd Star: Pierce Crawford, F, Minnesota Magicians
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Colton Berg, D, Minot Minotauros – Kevin Fitzgerald, F, Aberdeen Wings – Derek Frentz, F, Minot Minotauros – Gavin Paczosa, G, Aberdeein Wings – Jared Pike, F, Bismarck Bobcats – Hunter Shepard, G, Bismarck Bobcats
East Division Star of the Week: Dom Garcia, forward, Aston Rebels
With two wins in Johnstown over the weekend, the Aston Rebels moved back into a first place tie with New Jersey for the top spot in the East Division with just four games to go. 19-year-old forward Dom Garcia played a big role in the sweep, which featured back-to-back 3-2 wins. The native of Las Vegas, Nevada, had three goals in the series and was a +2. On Friday, Garcia (5’11/192) had Aston’s first goal in a 3-2 come-from-behind win. On Saturday, he scored twice in the 1st period in another 3-2 win. For the season, Garcia has 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points in 45 games played. “Dom has come so far as a player this year. I could not be more proud and excited for his future both as a Rebel and in NCAA Division I hockey. Where ever he commits to is getting a great player, but even better person and leader,” said Aston head coach Joe Coombs.
2nd Star: Grant Valentine, G, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Andrew Durham, F, New Jersey Titans – Darion Hanson, G, Aston Rebels – Paul Maust, F, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
Midwest Division Star of the Week: Janis Jaks, defenseman, Minnesota Wilderness
The Minnesota Wilderness put themselves on the verge of a playoff spot thanks to a weekend home sweep of the Springfield Jr. Blues. Defenseman Janis Jaks, 20, had a big weekend as the native of Riga, Latvia, had four points and was a +5 in the weekend sweep. Jaks (6’0/186) began the weekend with an assist in a 2-1 win on Friday. He followed that up with a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win on Saturday. For the season, Jaks leads all Wilderness defensemen in scoring with 27 points in 51 game played. It also ranks in the top 10 for all NAHL defensemen. “Janis has been a very steady performer for us all season and has really stepped things up offensively lately,” said Wilderness head coach Corey Millen.
2nd Star: Tyler Tomberlin, F, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Koby Bender, F, Minnesota Wilderness – Matiss Kivlenieks, G, Coulee Region Chill – Tommy Nappier, G, Springfield Jr. Blues – Luke Orysiuk, D, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Anthony Scarsella, D, Springfield Jr. Blues – Blake Weyrick, G, Janesville Jets – Adam Winborg, F, Janesville Jets
South Division Star of the Week: Jonathan Lazarus, forward, Wichita Falls Wildcats
With a weekend home sweep of the Amarillo Bulls, the Wichita Falls Wildcats not only crept closer to the South Division title, but they also set a new franchise record for wins in a season. Helping them to the sweep was forward Jonathan Lazarus, 19, who recorded four points and was a +3 in the two wins. On Friday, the native of Syosset, New York had the game-winning goal and an assist in a 6-2 win. On Saturday, Lazarus (6’0/185) had two assists, including one on the game-winning goal in a 3-2 win. For the season, Lazarus is 4th in team scoring with 40 points in 48 games played. He also played on the South Division team at the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. “It was great to see Jonathan have a breakout weekend after being injured for three straight weeks. He was a difference-maker for us on the weekend and it was great to see he picked up right where left off. He used great vision to set up his teammates for goals,” said Wildcats head coach John LaFontaine.
2nd Star: JB Baker, F, Topeka RoadRunners
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Austin Albrecht, F, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Alex Berardinelli, F, Lone Star Brahmas – Marshall Bowery, F, Topeka RoadRunners – Tobias Kircher, F, Corpus Christi IceRays – Dryden McKay, G, Corpus Christi IceRays