The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of December. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Dalton Hunter from the Johnstown Tomahawks. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Jeff Solow from the Amarillo Bulls. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Drew Hotte from the Johnstown Tomahawks. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Dalton Hunter, Johnstown Tomahawks
Johnstown Tomahawks forward Dalton Hunter, 19, made the most of his month of December despite the team playing in just six games. The 6’3/200 lbs. native of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, recorded 10 points in six games during the month as the Tomahawks went undefeated with a 6-0 record. That included 6 goals, 4 assists and a +10 rating for Hunter. He currently leads the Tomahawks in scoring this season with 37 points in 30 games, which ranks 2nd in NAHL scoring overall. His 19 goals are currently tied for the league lead. “Dalton has been outstanding for us since the first game of the season. His offensive contributions have been at a high level and he really has grown into an elite player. Most of all, I am proud of his commitment to his overall game and the character he has provided for our club. We were fortunate to have an undefeated month of December and Dalton was a huge catalyst for our success. His NCAA recognition has been growing daily and I know wherever he is fortunate enough to go, that program will be getting not only a strong hockey player, but an exceptional young man as well,” said Tomahawks head coach Mike Letizia.
Hunter said that his personal success in the month also coincided with team success. “I think we had to go through losing some games to really learn what was going to make us successful in the long run. I think once I got comfortable with the linemates, things really started to click. I think we played smarter hockey in December,” said Hunter. “We just want to keep putting together more wins and try and win a Robertson Cup. NCAA Division I hockey is also a goal. I want to play as long as I can because playing this sport is something I have been doing since I was little and I love to go to the rink every day.”
Runner-Up: George Mika, Amarillo Bulls
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Ricky Carballo, Wichita Falls Wildcats – John DeRouche, Topeka RoadRunners – Kevin Fitzgerald, Aberdeen Wings – Fabio Hollenstein, Springfield Jr. Blues – Tyler Jeanson, Minot Minotauros – Larry Jungwirth, Coulee Region Chill – Travis Kothenbeutel, Austin Bruins – Paul Maust, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – Dylan Mills, Minnesota Wilderness – Jared Resseguie, Bismarck Bobcats – Sam Ruffin, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Mitchel Slattery, Minnesota Magicians – Hunter Stanley, Lone Star Brahmas – Josh Tripp, Corpus Christi IceRays – Zach Zech, Odessa Jackalopes
Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Jeff Solow, Amarillo Bulls
Amarillo Bulls defenseman Jeff Solow, 20, had a torrid month of December as the native of Naples, Florida, helped the Bulls climb the South standings with 11 points in 9 games played during the month. That included 2 goals, 9 assists and a team-leading +5 rating. Solow (6’0/193) recorded at least a point in five of the nine games and had three multi-point outings. Solow, who spent some time developing in the NA3HL last season with the North Iowa Bulls, ranked tied for 4th among all NAHL defensemen in scoring with 24 points in 28 games played so far this season. “The Bulls organization is proud of Jeff being the recipient of the December Defenseman of the Month award. This honor is a by-product of his strong play for our team and he has continued to be a key member of our defensive corps. We believe that if Jeff continues to play a strong two-way game that he will be a very attractive candidate for an NCAA Division I program,” said Bulls head coach Matt Nicholson.
Solow said that his success has been a product of improving at all levels. “This is my third year in the league and I have learned something at each stop, be it Soo, Kenai River, North Iowa or Amarillo. Coach Todd Sanden in North Iowa and Coach Matt Nicholson here in Amarillo have been instrumental in helping me develop and improve and have given me a chance to succeed,” said Solow. “My goal is to play NCAA Division I hockey and I’d like to see myself try and get 40 points. Beyond that, I would like to take my career as far as it can go.”
Runner-Up: Dorian Dawson, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Matthew Barnes, Topeka RoadRunners – Andy Carroll, Aberdeen Wings – Jake Dittel, Minot Minotauros – Matt Doran, Coulee Region Chill – Jiei Halliday Bismarck Bobcats – Aaron McPheters, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Ryan Orgel, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Adam Pilewicz, Johnstown Tomahawks – Tucker White, Corpus Christi IceRays
Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Drew Hotte, Johnstown Tomahawks
Johnstown Tomahawks goalie Drew Hotte, 20, had a perfect month of December to coincide with his team’s perfect month. The 6’1/185 lbs. native of Gwynedd, Pennsylvania, posted a perfect 5-0-0 record during the month of December, allowing just five goals in those five games. Overall, Hotte faced 131 shots and made 121 saves, which was good for a 1.13 goals against average and a 96.0% save percentage. That included a 32-save shutout on New Year’s Eve, which capped off Hotte being named the East Division Star of the Week. “Drew had a fantastic month of December. His individual numbers were great and he helped us to win every game we had in the month, which was the most important part. He is someone that we can rely on night in and night out to give us an opportunity to win hockey games, as well as be a role model of preparation and character to the rest of our club. I am extremely proud off Drew for the way he succeeded this month, throughout the season to this point, and for what he means to our hockey club and the Johnstown community,” said Tomahawks head coach Mike Letizia.
“The team really played well and played with more discipline in December. We also got some new players in and team chemistry changed right away and the new players fit in. It was a wake up call for us. It took the safety net and comfort level away and gave us a sense of desperation. Our team is very capable of a very deep run into the playoffs,” said Hotte. “I think I tracked the puck pretty well in December. Each game that goes along I feel more comfortable. I have gotten used to the pace of the league and controlling the rebounds. Hopefully, I can keep working hard and developing and earn an NCAA Division I commitment,”
Runner-Up: Jared Dempsey, Wichita Falls Wildcats
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Nikita Babintsev, Amarillo Bulls – Alec Calvaruso, Lone Star Brahmas – Jon Flakne, Odessa Jackalopes – Colt Hanks, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – Camden Haugenoe, Bismarck Bobcats – Trevor Micucci, Minnesota Wilderness – Lucas Murray, Minot Minotauros – Forbes Ploszaj, Aberdeen Wings – Ivan Prosvetov, Minnesota Magicians – Ryan Snowden, Topeka RoadRunners – Tomas Vomacka, Corpus Christi IceRays
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