The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Bauer Hockey for the week ending January 22, 2017. The Bauer Hockey Divisional Stars of the Week is a weekly feature during the 2016-17 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: Mitch Walinski, forward, Bismarck Bobcats
The Bismarck Bobcats pushed their winning streak to three straight games over the weekend with a home sweep of the Brookings Blizzard. Forward Mitch Walinski, 18, has found a rebirth with his new club that continued during the weekend as the Lincoln, Rhode Island, native helped his club with an incredible game on Friday. The Niagara University recruit scored four goals and added an assist and was a +3 in Friday’s 9-1 win. Since joining the Bobcats in December, Walinski (6’0/161) has 12 points in 11 games played. Overall in the 2016-17 season, he has 17 points in 27 games played. “Mitch's skill and attitude have been a great addition to our team. He adjusted quickly to his new environment and his play is a big part of our turnaround since New Year’s,” said Bismarck head coach Layne Sedevie.
2nd Star: Severi Isokangas, G, Bismarck Bobcats
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Tyler Bossert, F, Aberdeen Wings – Tyler Jeanson, F, Minot Minotauros – Zach Mills, F, Minnesota Wilderness – Carter Roo, F, Aberdeen Wings – Reid Stefanson, F, Minot Minotauros – Jan Stefka, F, Austin Bruins – Michael Zuffante, F, Minnesota Wilderness
East Division Star of the Week: Nick Bruce, forward, Johnstown Tomahawks
The Johnstown Tomahawks moved into sole possession of 2nd place in the East Division with a weekend home sweep of the New Jersey Titans over the weekend. 20-year-old forward Nick Bruce (6’2/178) had a big weekend, recording four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in the two wins, along with a +3 rating. On Friday, the native of Fall River, Nova Scotia, had two goals, including the game-winner in a 4-1 win. On Saturday, he picked up two assists in another 4-1 win. In 35 games played this season, Bruce has 29 points. “It was a big weekend for us getting a sweep at home versus a divisional opponent that we are battling closely with and Nick was a vital part of our success. He has been contributing all season long on all 200 feet of the rink and his offensive talents have really been shining through. He was making high-end plays throughout the weekend resulting in goals for himself as well as setting up his teammates with some beautiful passes. I am extremely proud of Nick and our entire team's approach to the weekend and we will continue to look for Nick to contribute this way for us as our season progresses. He is someone that I believe is a quality NCAA Division I prospect that could fit into a teams lineup playing whatever role is asked of him,” said Johnstown head coach Mike Letizia.
2nd Star: Tommy Horn, F, Johnstown Tomahawks
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Khristian Acosta, F, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – Sam Antonitsch, F, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
Midwest Division Star of the Week: Josh Benson, goaltender, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Goaltender Josh Benson, 19, helped the Fairbanks Ice Dogs get back on track with a three-game weekend home sweep of the Northeast Generals. The native of Stillwater, Minnesota, started a won all three games this past weekend, allowing just three goals in the process. Overall, Benson (6’1/190) faced 50 shots in the three games and made 47 saves. That included his first NAHL shutout on Friday in a 1-0 win. Benson has appeared in nine games this season for Fairbanks, after beginning the season in the NA3HL with the North Iowa Bulls. He currently has a 4-3 record with a 1.72 goals against average and a 92.6% save percentage in his time in the NAHL. “Josh provides and helps the team to play with confidence in front of him. He made the saves he needed to this weekend and a couple more that probably should have gone in if it weren’t for some tremendous saves,” said Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart.
2nd Star: Preston Weeks, D, Kenai River Brown Bears
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Jake Acton, G, Minnesota Magicians – Evan Butcher, F, Kenai River Brown Bears – Hampus Eriksson, F, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Jack Gates, F, Janesville Jets – Andrew McGlynn, F, Coulee Region Chill – Cullen Munson, F, Janesville Jets – Caleb Schroer, F, Coulee Region Chill – Brendan Skarda, F, Minnesota Magicians
South Division Star of the Week: Austin Kamer, forward, Lone Star Brahmas
With three more wins this past week, the 1st place Lone Star Brahmas pushed their winning streak to an NAHL season-best 10 games. Forward Austin Kamer, 20, had a big week, recording six points (5 goals, 1 assist) and a +4 rating in the three wins. The native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, began the week with two goals, including the overtime-winner, and an assist in a 4-3 win over Shreveport on Monday. On Friday, Kamer (6’0/185) had two more goals in a 5-1 win in Wichita Falls. On Saturday, he had another goal in a 5-3 win against the Wildcats. In 40 games played this season, Kamer has 33 points. “Austin has been a big part of his line's success. He does a little bit of everything very well for us. He's on the power play, on the penalty kill and he's an all situations guy and it's nice to see his hard work pay off,” said Lone Star assistant coach Al Rooney.
2nd Star: Tomas Vomacka, G, Corpus Christi IceRays
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Marshall Bowery, F, Topeka RoadRunners – Ricky Carballo, F, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Seamus Donohue, F, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Max Harper, F, Topeka RoadRunners – Mason Krueger, F, Corpus Christi IceRays – Hunter Stanley, F, Lone Star Brahmas