The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Bauer Hockey for the week ending February 12, 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: Forbes Ploszaj, goaltender, Aberdeen Wings
Thanks to two more wins over the weekend, the Aberdeen Wings pushed their winning streak to a season-high seven straight games and moved into 3rd place in the Central Division. Backstopping the team in both wins was 20-year-old netminder Forbes Ploszaj. The 6’1/185 lbs. native of Gilbert, Arizona, was solid in the Wings two wins, stopping a total if 71 of 74 shots in the process. On Friday, Ploszaj made 37 saves in a 5-2 win over the visiting Minnesota Magicians. On Saturday, he made 34 saves in a 4-1 win, which completed the weekend sweep. Ploszaj has won his last six straight starts and hasn’t lost a game since January 20th. “Forbes has been a intricate part of the Wings since arriving here. His professionalism is first class. He has a very high compete level and fits into our identity very well,” said Wings head coach Scott Langer.
2nd Star: Logan Jenuwine, F, Aberdeen Wings
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Nicholas Cardelli, F, Brookings Blizzard – Jordan Fralich, D, Bismarck Bobcats - Zach Kennedy, F, Bismarck Bobcats – Zach Mills, F, Minnesota Wilderness – Austin Park, G, Minot Minotauros – Chase Springman, F, Minot Minotauros – Tyler Vold, D, Minnesota Wilderness
East Division Star of the Week: Mareks Mitens, goaltender, Aston Rebels
It was a historic weekend for goalie Mareks Mitens, 19, and the Aston Rebels. The native of Ventspils, Latvia, played in three games during the week and stopped 60 of 63 shots in 160 minutes of action. Mitens began the week by making a relief appearance in a 5-3 loss to New Jersey on Wednesday, where he stopped 14 of 15 shots. On Friday, Mitens (6’1/176) then made NAHL history as he stopped all 18 shots that came his way for his 11th shutout of the season, which set a new NAHL single-season record. The record had been previously held by current UConn goalie Rob Nichols, who set the record back during the 2011-12 season with the same Rebels franchise when it was located in Wenatchee, Washington. The shutout also marked the 15th overall for the Rebels, which also set a new NAHL single-season record. The next night, Mitens made 28 saves as Aston completed a weekend sweep of the Johnstown Tomahawks with a 3-2 win. “Mareks has been great for us all year. After a sluggish few weeks and five games in seven days, I thought our team really responded this weekend. It all starts with him in goal,” said Aston head coach Joe Coombs.
2nd Star: Jensen Zerban, F, Aston Rebels
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Donovan Ott, F, Johnstown Tomahawks
Midwest Division Star of the Week: Marc Sullivan, defenseman, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Thanks to a six-game winning streak, the defending Robertson Cup Champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs now find themselves in the thick of the Midwest Division playoff race in 3rd place. Over the weekend, the team swept the Kenai River Brown Bears in Fairbanks. Defenseman Marc Sullivan played a big role in the sweep as the 19-year-old native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, had four points in the two wins. On Friday, Sullivan (5’11/170) had the game-winning goal and an assist in a 5-1 win. On Saturday, Sullivan had a pair of assists in a 4-3 win. He was also a +3 on the weekend. For the season, Sullivan leads all Ice Dogs defensemen in scoring with 21 points in 43 games played. “Marc is a good, veteran defenseman, who has really dedicated himself this season and taken on a leadership role. His hard work has paid off and this weekend was a perfect example of his effectiveness for our team,” said Fairbanks head coach Trevor Stewart.
2nd Star: Caleb Hite, F, Minnesota Magicians
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Matt Doran, D, Coulee Region Chill – Jordan Greenfield-Flemon, G, Springfield Jr. Blues – Max Nylander, F, Springfield Jr. Blues – Isaac Theisen, F, Coulee Region Chill – Hunter Wendt, F, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
South Division Star of the Week: Frankie Melton, forward, Shreveport Mudbugs
With two wins on the road against the 1st place Lone Star Brahmas this past weekend, not only did the Shreveport Mudbugs snap their five-game losing streak, but they also moved into a tie for 2nd place in the South Division. Forward Frankie Melton, 19, was a one-man scoring machine as the native of St. Louis, Missouri, recorded five points, including four goals and an assist, in the two wins. On Friday night, Melton (5’8/170) had a goal and then assisted on the game-winning goal in a 3-1 win. On Saturday, Melton had a hat-trick, which included the game-winning goal, in a 4-3 win. Not only does Melton, who was selected to play in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament last week, lead the Mudbugs in scoring with 45 points in 41 games played, but his 28 goals is tops amongst all NAHL players. “Frankie continues to take advantage of his opportunities and has played a key role for us this season. He has poise with the puck and a scoring presence that makes him difficult to play against,” said Mudbugs assistant coach Francis Anzalone.
2nd Star: Steven Ipri, F, Amarillo Bulls
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Nikita Babintsev, G, Amarillo Bulls – Ryan Dickinson, D, Topeka RoadRunners – Croix Evingson, D, Shreveport Mudbugs – Nick Granowicz, F, Topeka RoadRunners – Larry Jungwirth, F, Corpus Christi IceRays – David Thomson, F, Corpus Christi IceRays – Jordan Wishman, D, Lone Star Brahmas – John Zimmerman, D, Lone Star Brahmas