The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Bauer Hockey for the week ending December 17, 2017. The Bauer Hockey Divisional Stars of the Week is a weekly feature during the 2017-18 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: Isaac Kobienia, forward, Minnesota Wilderness
Thanks to a three-game winning streak, which included a sweep of the Austin Bruins last weekend, the Minnesota Wilderness are now just a point out of the top spot in the Central. One of the keys behind the sweep was 19-year-old Wilderness forward Isaac Kobienia. The 5’10/175 lbs. native of Willmar, Minnesota, had four points (3 goals, 1 assist) in the two wins, which included both of the game-winning goals and a +4 rating. On Friday, Kobienia had two goals, including the game-winner and an assist in a 3-0 win in Austin. The next night, he scored another game-winner in a 4-2 home win. For the season, Kobienia has 19 points in 29 games played. “Isaac has been playing great two-way hockey and that has translated into some great overall play. He continues to impress the staff and his teammates with his energy, leadership, and team-first attitude. We look forward to a big second half out of him,” said Wilderness head coach Tim Madsen.
2nd Star: Ryan Fanti, G, Minnesota Wilderness
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Samu Lonkila, G, Minot Minotauros – Zach Noble, F, Aberdeen Wings – Patrick O’Connor, D, Bismarck Bobcats – Nolan Sawchuk, D, Minot Minotauros – Ryan Ullan, G, Bismarck Bobcats – Matt Vernon, G, Aberdeen Wings
East Division Star of the Week: Ryan Keane, goaltender, Philadelphia Rebels
Thanks to a pair of home wins over the Johnstown Tomahawks, the Philadelphia Rebels regained the top spot in the East Division. Goaltender Ryan Keane, 19, was in goal for both wins and allowed just two goals on 37 shots. On Friday, the 5’9/160 lbs. native of Coppell, Texas, made 21 saves in a 4-1 win. The next night, he stopped 14 of 15 shots in a 2-1 overtime win. For the season, Keane has a 12-4-0 record and ranks 4th in goals against average with a 1.72 mark and ranks in the Top 10 in save percentage with a 92.6% mark. “Ryan has played well all year. This weekend he made some big stops at key times,” said Rebels head coach Joe Coombs.
2nd Star: Colin McCabe, D, Northeast Generals
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Andrew Bellant, F, Philadelphia Rebels – Matt Wiesner, F, Northeast Generals
Midwest Division Star of the Week: Jeff Skinner, forward, Springfield Jr. Blues
One of the hottest players in the NAHL at the moment is Springfield Jr. Blues forward Jeff Skinner. That was one display this past weekend as the 5’11/180 lbs. native of Katy, Texas had another big weekend to lead the Jr. Blues to a home sweep over the Topeka RoadRunners. Skinner, 19, had four points (3 goals, 1 assist) in the sweep and was a +2. On Friday night, Skinner had an assist in a 4-2 win. On Saturday, he recorded a hat-trick, which included the game-winning goal in a 5-3 win. Skinner is currently on a 10-game point streak and has recorded 15 points in that span. His 28 points in 27 games played leads the Jr. Blues in scoring. “Jeff has been playing great hockey for us the past few weeks. When he competes and at his best, he is one of the top players in our league,” said Jr. Blues head coach Tyler Rennette.
2nd Star: Josh Benson, G, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Calvin Dybicz, D, Minnesota Magicians - Gavin Enright, G, Kenai River Brown Bears – Bradley Marek, F, Springfield Jr. Blues – Artur Pavliukov, G, Kenai River Brown Bears – Isaiah Saville, G, Minnesota Magicians – Noah Wilson, D, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
South Division Star of the Week: James Durham, goaltender, Shreveport Mudbugs
It was a busy week for Mudbugs goalie James Durham. The 18-year-old native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, played in four games as the Mudbugs went 3-1 during the week, opening up an 11-point lead atop of the South Division. On Wednesday, Durham (6’2/195) stopped all 19 shots that came his way for his 5th shutout of the season in a 3-0 home win over Corpus Christi. On Friday, Durham and the Mudbugs suffered their lone setback of the week as they were shutout by the Lone Star Brahmas, 3-0, with Durham making 29 saves in the loss. The next night, Durham and the Mudbugs returned home to post a 6-1 win over Amarillo as Durham made 23 saves. On Sunday, Durham made 27 saves in a 5-2 win over the Bulls. Statistically, Durham is the top goalie in the league as he leads the NAHL in both goals against average (1.56) and save percentage (94.0%). “James has been a very good player for us this season. Over the past three weeks he has taken on a significant workload and has really risen to the occasion. James works hard on and off the ice and we are happy for him to earn this recognition,” said Mudbugs assistant coach Casey Kirley.
2nd Star: Mitchell Gibson, G, Lone Star Brahmas
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Andrew Lane, D, Shreveport Mudbugs – Brendan Miller, F, Corpus Christi IceRays – CJ Regula, F, Corpus Christi IceRays – Connor Stuart, D, Lone Star Brahmas