The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Bauer Hockey for the week ending April 8, 2018. 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: Samu Lonkila, goaltender, Minot Minotauros
The Minot Minotauros were in the rare situation of having to face their first round playoff opponent, the Aberdeen Wings, in the final regular season weekend of the year. The return of goaltender Samu Lonkila, 20, was a welcome sight for the team as the native of Kuopio, Finland had been out since late February with an illness. Lonkila (6’0/176) was stellar in his return, allowing just three goals in a weekend split with the Wings, stopping 65 of 68 shots in the process. On Friday, Lonkila made 38 saves in a close 2-1 loss and on Saturday, he made 27 saves in a 2-1 overtime win. Lonkila, who played in the 2018 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, finished the regular season with a 13-13-4 record and a 2.46 goals against average and 91.8% save percentage. “It was great to have Samu back in the line up this weekend after being out for a significant length of time due to an illness. He picked up right where he left off and gave us a chance to win hockey games. He plays with confidence and our guys feed off that,” said Minot head coach Marty Murray.
2nd Star: Eric Gotz, D, Minnesota Wilderness
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Evan Cholak, F, Austin Bruins – Luke Dow, F, Minnesota Wilderness – Lincoln Erne, D, Minot Minotauros – Sam Malinski, D, Bismarck Bobcats – Patrick O’Connor, D, Bismarck Bobcats – Andy Willis, F, Austin Bruins
East Division Star of the Week: Louis Boudon, forward, Northeast Generals
Northeast Generals forward and Lake Superior State commit Louis Boudon, 19, helped his club to a series split with the New Jersey Titans this weekend. The 5’11/165 lbs. native of Grenoble, France, had three points and was a +2 in the pair of games. On Friday, Boudon had an assist in a close 4-3 loss and on Saturday, he scored the game-winning goal and had an assist in a 2-1 win. For the 2017-18 regular season, Boudon was 3rd in scoring for the playoff-bound Generals with 49 points, including a team-leading 32 assists, in 51 games played. “Louis has been a standout for us all year. It’s great that he is playing his best hockey just as the playoffs are about to start, as he will be a key factor in our success,” said Generals GM Bryan Erikson.
2nd Star: Noah Finstrom, F, Philadelphia Rebels
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Alex Frye, F, Philadelphia Rebels – Marko Sturma, G, Northeast Generals
Midwest Division Star of the Week: Max Brainin, forward, Springfield Jr. Blues
Winners of their last eight straight, one of the hottest teams entering the 2018 NAHL Robertson Cup Playoffs is the Springfield Jr. Blues. That hot play continued this past weekend as the Jr. Blues picked up a weekend road sweep of the Coulee Region Chill. Forward Max Brainin, 19, had three points in the two wins for the Jr. Blues and was also a +3. On Friday, the 6’0/190 lbs. native of Buffalo Grove, Illinois, had a goal in a 4-3 win over the Chill, and then on Saturday he had the game-winning goal and an assist in a 3-2 win. For the season, Brainin finished 3rd in team scoring with 40 points in 57 regular season games. “Max has really elevated his game the last few weeks. He is committed to the team game and with that he has had a ton of individual success. We will be counting on him to continue his strong play in the playoffs,” said Jr. Blues head coach Tyler Renette.
2nd Star: Garrett Nieto, G, Janesville Jets
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Kip Hoffman, F, Janesville Jets – Andrew McGlynn, F, Coulee Region Chill – Brandon Puricelli, F, Springfield Jr. Blues
South Division Star of the Week: Mitchell Gibson, goaltender, Lone Star Brahmas
It was a record-breaking week for Lone Star Brahmas goalie and Harvard recruit Mitchell Gibson. The 18-year-old goaltender from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, won both of his starts during the week as he allowed just single goal on 48 shots in wins over Topeka on Monday and Corpus Christi on Saturday. In Monday’s 4-1 win over Topeka, Gibson (6’1/186) made 23 saves. On Saturday, Gibson stopped all 24 shots that came his way as the Brahmas picked up a 1-0 overtime win in their regular season finale against the IceRays. The shutout for Gibson was his 11th of the season, which equaled the NAHL record, which was set just last season by Mareks Mitens of the Philadelphia Rebels. Gibson finished the regular season leading in the NAHL in goals against average (1.59), save percentage (93.5%), and shutouts (11). He was also 2nd in wins with 26. “I think what Mitchell has done this season is very impressive because there have been so many good goalies that have been developed in the NAHL over the course of the last 42 years. To make history like that and post 11 shutouts in a season is something that is a testament to what he brings to the table every game. I think he not only has a bright future ahead of him in the NCAA, but the NHL as well,” said Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong.
2nd Star: Alex Camarre, G, Odessa Jackalopes
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Austin Bottrell, F, Lone Star Brahmas – Marcus Chorney, D, Amarillo Bulls – Jayson Dimizio, F, Corpus Christi IceRays – Jared Domin, F, Amarillo Bulls – Dylan Johnson, F, Odessa Jackalopes – Bud Winter, F, Corpus Christi IceRays