NAHL Alumni Update
January 25, 2018
NHL #2 Star of the Week: Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg Jets (Odessa Jackalopes)
Hellebuyck stopped 59 of 60 shots against, compiling a 2-0-0 record with a 0.48 goals-against average, .983 save percentage and one shutout to lift the Jets (28-13-7, 63 points) back atop the Central Division standings. He made 30 saves through overtime and denied both shootout attempts he faced in a 2-1 victory against the Calgary Flames Jan. 20. Hellebuyck then earned his 10th career shutout with 29 saves in a 1-0 triumph over the Vancouver Canucks Jan. 21. The 24-year-old Commerce, Mich., native - who will make his All-Star Game debut this week - ranks in the top 10 in the NHL this season in wins (2nd; 25), shutouts (t-2nd; 4), goals-against average (7th; 2.29) and save percentage (7th; .926) through 39 appearances. That includes a League-best 17 victories in 20 outings on home ice (17-1-1, 2.06 GAA, .931 SV%, 3 SO).
Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week: Derek Barach, F, Mercyhurst (Lone Star Brahmas)
Derek Barach helped Mercyhurst to a 2-0-1 record in league games last week, registering six points on three goals and three assists. Barach opened the week with two goals and an assist in a 6-3 victory over RIT on Tuesday, the first of two weekday games being played by the two teams. The junior forward then totaled a goal and two assists during a win and a tie against AIC.
B1G #2 Star: Jack Berry, G, Wisconsin (New Jersey Titans/Soo Eagles)
Berry turned aside all 40 shots faced for his third career shutout to help the Badgers hand No. 1/1 Notre Dame its first conference loss of the season at the United Center in Chicago on Sunday. The 40 saves equal the sixth-highest save total for a Badger goaltender in a shutout in school history. It was the first shutout of Notre Dame since Nov. 26, 2016. Berry improved to 4-3-0 on the season with a 2.32 goals-against average and .919 save percentage and earned his third career weekly award and second of the season.
WCHA Offensive Player of the Week: Zeb Knutson, F, Minnesota State (Topeka RoadRunners)
Minnesota State played a single game last week, but it was a big one, as the now-No. 7/8 Mavericks used two goals from Knutson to upend now-No. 5/3 St. Cloud State in a Hockey Day Minnesota clash between the WCHA and NCHC leaders. Knutson netted a power-play goal to give Minnesota State a 2-0 lead at 13:56 of the first period; then, with the host Huskies within one at 3-2 late in the second, the senior buried an even-strength goal to give the Mavericks a two-goal cushion. He finished the game with a plus-3 rating, while his efforts in one game were enough to tie for the WCHA's goal-scoring lead last week. A native of Sioux Falls, S.D., Knutson has now set career highs with 18 assists and 28 points in 25 contests, to go along with a plus-13 rating. This is Knutson's third career WCHA weekly award, all of which have come this season (also on Oct. 30 and Dec. 11).
WCHA Rookie of the Week: Brandon Kruse, F, Bowling Green (Brookings Blizzard)
Kruse tied for the WCHA overall scoring lead and ranked second nationally among freshmen with four points, tallying a goal and three assists as now-No. 15 Bowling Green earned a sweep of Alaska Anchorage. A native of Saline, Mich., Kruse enjoyed a career-high three-point night Saturday, scoring the tie-breaking, game-winning goal with 6:53 remaining in regulation to lift the Falcons to a 3-2 victory. Earlier in the evening, he helped BGSU erase a two goal-deficit by assisting on goals by Chris Pohlkamp and fellow freshman Max Johnson. In Friday night's series opener, Kruse assisted on Mitch McLain's team-leading 12th goal of the season to put the Falcons ahead, 4-1, late in the first period. He finished the weekend with three shots on goal and a plus-3 rating, tied for tops among WCHA rookies. This is Kruse's first WCHA weekly award of his freshman campaign, while he becomes the fifth Falcon to earn Rookie of the Week honors this season (joining Cameron Wright, Eric Dop, Johnson and Connor Ford).
WCHA Goaltender of the Week: Michael Bitzer, Bemidji State (Alexandria Blizzard)
Bitzer added another chapter to his storied career, moving into sole possession of second place in NCAA Division I men's hockey history with his 21st career shutout. The senior from Moorhead, Minn. reached the milestone Friday night in his 124th collegiate game, surpassing Vermont's Joe Fallon (132 games between 2005-08) and moving within five shutouts of all-time men's leader Ryan Miller (26 in 106 contests for Michigan State between 1999-2002). Bitzer made 23 stops in a 2-0 Bemidji State victory at Ferris State, part of a weekend in which he backstopped the Beavers to a sweep. He finished the series with 42 saves in 120 minutes, while leading the WCHA in wins, shutouts, save percentage (.977) and goals-against average (0.50). He also anchored a BSU penalty-kill unit that was a perfect seven-for-seven on the weekend. Now at 62-47-17 in a BSU sweater, Bitzer surpassed Mark Liska (1981-85) for fourth on the Beavers' all-time wins list, and equaled Jim Scanlan (1978-82) and Chuck Scanlon (1971-75), who are tied for second with 62 career victories. This is Bitzer's fourth WCHA weekly award of the 2017-18 season and his 15th career honor, including a pair of Rookie accolades and nine Defensive awards.
SPHL Player of the Week: Berkey Scott, F, Knoxville Ice Bears (Coulee Region Chill/Alaska Avalanche)
The Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) announced Berkley Scott of the Knoxville Ice Bears is the Warrior Player of the Week for January 15-21. Scott scored six goals, including one shorthanded and one game-winner, added an assist and was +5 as the Ice Bears won two of three games last week. On Tuesday, the Anoka, MN native scored the only goal in the shootout and added an assist in Knoxville’s 3-2 win over Mississippi. In Friday’s rematch against the RiverKings, Scott found the back of the net in the Ice Bears’ 3-2 loss to Mississippi. Scott saved his best outing for last as he recorded a natural hat trick in a span of 5:39 of the second period in Knoxville’s 10-0 rout of Roanoke on Saturday. Scott found the back of the net again in the third period to finish the night with four goals. Now in his seventh professional season, Scott is currently tied for the league-lead in goals with 17, is second in shots on goal with 126 and ranks fourth with 35 points.
The Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation announced the 11 nominees for the 2018 Hockey Humanitarian Award. The award is presented annually to college hockey’s finest citizen — a student-athlete who makes significant contributions not only to his or her team, but also to the community at large through leadership in volunteerism. In total, three NAHL alumni are part of the 11 nominees. They are:
Mikhail Bushinski, F, Utica (Kenai River, Kalamazoo, Fresno)
Jared Pilet, D, Concordia (Aberdeen)
Luke Rivera, F, SUNY-Fredonia (Wenatchee)
Former Northeast Generals forward Kohei Sato is getting up to speed at New Hampshire (read)