NAHL announces monthly awards for February
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of February. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Matt Demelis from the Northeast Generals. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Jack Clement from the Shreveport Mudbugs. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Jaxon Castor from the Shreveport Mudbugs. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Matt Demelis, Northeast Generals
Northeast Generals forward Matt Demelis, 18, had a very good month of February, earning him Forward of the Month honors. The 6’0/185 lbs. native of Hingham, Massachusetts, totaled 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) in just 8 games during the month. Demelis, who has made his NCAA Division I commitment to Northeastern University, recorded a points in six of the eight games during the month and had four multi-point games. In 43 regular season games played so far this season, Demelis has 34 points. He capped off February by playing on the NAHL Selects White team at the 2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament. “Matt has been tremendous for us this year and has gotten better each month. He was outstanding in February and is peaking at the right time. His hands and vision are incredible and they have been on full display,” said Generals head coach Joe Lovell.
“I think the entire team has really bought in and believed we can beat anybody. We have a very positive attitude in the lockerroom. When something negative happens, we put it behind us and keep moving forward. That has been the different vs. last year,” said Demelis. “There was a lot of respect in the lockerroom at Top Prospects. There were a lot of talented players there and everyone is there for a reason. You learn to put any animosity aside real quick because you want to play well and show scouts what you have. I think for me, it is just about improving my development, both on and off the ice. I just want to get better every day.”
Runner-Up: Robert Blueger, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Roberts Baranovskis, Shreveport Mudbugs – Nick Bowman, Coulee Region Chill – Kip Hoffman, Janesville Jets – Steven Ipri, Lone Star Brahmas – Filip Karlsson, Kenai River Brown Bears – Gino Lucia, Minnesota Wilderness – Aaron Maguyon, Philadelphia Rebels – Ondrej Pavel, Minot Minotauros – Dante Sheriff, Austin Bruins – Samuel Solensky, Johnstown Tomahawks – Joe Strada, Aberdeen Wings – Mitch Walinski, Bismarck Bobcats
Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Jack Clement, Shreveport Mudbugs
Shreveport Mudbugs defenseman Jack Clement, 18, was a big reason behind his team’s success in the month of February. The 6’3/180 lbs. native of Bloomfield Heights, Michigan, was very consistent in February as the Mudbugs put together a 6-1 record during the month. Clement, who committed to play NCAA Division I hockey earlier this season to Nebraska-Omaha, had nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) in the seven games and a +3 rating. Clement recorded at least a point in six of the seven games played and had three multi-point games. He was also selected to and played in the 2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the NAHL Selects Red team. For the season, Clement has 30 points in 45 games played, which ranks him 10th among NAHL blueliners. “Jack has been quietly and steadily improving all year. He finds parts of his game he needs to work on and then hammers it out in practice. This hard work and attention to his game has translated into positive production on the ice for him and his teammates,” said Mudbugs head coach Karlis Zirnis.
“We have a really good group of committed and talented players here in Shreveport and I think we really grew as a team in the first half of the season when we were on the road quite a bit. We have bought into the system coach Zirnis has put in place and we want to be playing our best hockey come playoff time,” said Clement. “I have the same goals I did before my commitment. If anything, I am motivated even more to keep getting better and prove myself even more. I think playing at the Top Prospects gave me some extra motivation. It was cool to see that many scouts in the stands and the event was very professionally organized and run. I think the common theme among the players there was that it was something different and cool to be playing against guys that you battle against all season long.”
Runner-Up: Kyle Hallbauer, Lone Star Brahmas
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Nico Appendino, Philadelphia Rebels – Jackson Decker, Coulee Region Chill - Carter Ekberg, Janesville Jets – Cam McDonald, Kenai River Brown Bears – Luke Perunovich, Northeast Generals – Nolan Sawchuk, Minot Minotauros – Jaden Shields, Austin Bruins – John Stampohar, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Zach Van Sant, Bismarck Bobcats – Dalton Weigel, Aberdeen Wings
Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Jaxon Castor, Shreveport Mudbugs
Another big reason behind Shreveport’s success this season and in the month of February has been their goaltending. Veteran netminder Jaxon Castor, 20, who was acquired in January from the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, has been lights out for the Mudbugs since his arrival, which included an incredible month of February. The 6’3/190 lbs. native of Phoenix, Arizona, posted a perfect 3-0 record during the month, which included two shutouts and a save percentage of 96.9%. Castor posted back-to-back shutouts in wins over Amarillo on February 10th and a win over Odessa on February 17th. During the month, he stopped 63 of 65 shots. For the season, Castor has a 5-3-0 record in nine appearances and has a goals against average of 1.12 and a save percentage of 94.6%. “Jaxon has come in and done great job in the net for us. He has fit right in with us with great and solid goaltending and a great attitude in the locker room,” said Mudbugs head coach Karlis Zirnis.
“I’ve really tried to embrace and make the most of this opportunity in Shreveport. It is a great situation here and I just want to come in and keep developing and help this team win games,” said Castor. “I want to keep coming to the rink with a good attitude and practice hard. My goal is to earn an NCAA Division I opportunity, so I just want to keep having fun and see what happens, but there will be plenty of opportunity to perform here in the next few months.”
Runner-Up: Daniel Lebedeff, Janesville Jets
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Josh Benson, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Eli Billing, Philadelphia Rebels – Mitchell Gibson, Lone Star Brahmas – Kevin Lake, Kenai River Brown Bears – Jack Leavy, Johnstown Tomahawks – Samu Lonkila, Minot Minotauros – Johnny Roberts, Bismarck Bobcats – Jake Sibell, Minnesota Wilderness – Mads Sogaard, Austin Bruins – Gabe Vinal, Aberdeen Wings – Emil Zetterquist, Coulee Region Chill