The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of October. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Samuel Solensky from the Johnstown Tomahawks. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Sam Malinski from the Bismarck Bobcats. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Kyle McClellan from the Austin Bruins. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Samuel Solensky, Johnstown Tomahawks
Veteran Johnstown Tomahawks forward Samuel Solensky, 20, helped the Tomahawks to a 6-2-0 record in October as they maintained their East Division lead. The 5’10/170 lbs. native of Michalovce, Slovakia, led all NAHL players in scoring with 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) during the month, which included six multi-point games. During the month, Solensky also became the all-time assists leader in Tomahawks history. For the season, Solensky currently leads the NAHL in scoring with 26 points in 16 games played. “Sammy had an outstanding October for us averaging two points per game for the month, but also as a leader demonstrating his tenacious work ethic and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. He seemed to take his game to another level each weekend and was a driving force to our success. I am extremely proud of him for being recognized as the NAHL Forward of the Month and he should be equally as proud because he is very deserving,” said Tomahawks head coach Mike Letizia.
“The way that last year went for us really was motivation to do something better this year, and a good start was something we were really focused on,” said Solensky. “Now that we have gotten off to a good start, we are focused on keeping that momentum going and that’s something we all did in October. I think everything is clicking for us right now and also for me personally. I am trying to play my best every game and not take any shifts off. I am very motivated because my goal to play NCAA Division I hockey and I think we have the type of team that is capable on making a deep run in the playoffs.”
Runner-Up: Cameron Buhl, Minnesota Magicians
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Jon Bendorf, Aberdeen Wings – Blake Bennett, Corpus Christi IceRays – Louis Boudon, Northeast Generals – Logan Jenuwine, Amarillo Bulls – Jack Johnson, Shreveport Mudbugs – Keenan Lund, Minot Minotauros – Tommy Middleton, Janesville Jets – Augustine Moore, Jamestown Rebels – Ryan Naumovski, New Jersey Titans – Brandon Puricelli, Springfield Jr. Blues – Johnny Sorenson, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Michael Spethmann, Kenai River Brown Bears – Adam Stacho, Bismarck Bobcats – Dallas Tulik, Topeka Pilots – Dante Zapata, Austin Bruins
Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Sam Malinski, Bismarck Bobcats
Despite playing in just six games during the month of October, Bismarck Bobcats defenseman Sam Malinski, 20, made the most of the games by helping his team to a 3-2-1 record during the month. The 5’11/185 lbs. native of Lakeville, Minnesota, led the Bobcats in scoring during the month with eight points (5 goals, 3 assists) in just six games. Malinski recorded at least a point in five of the six outings and had three multi-point games. For the season, Malinski is 2nd in team scoring and 2nd among all NAHL defensemen in scoring with 13 points in 12 games played to date. “Sam has the ability to change games single-handedly. His hockey IQ along with his shot and ability to compete to me make him an elite defenseman and a big reason we are having early success,” said Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie.
“I think after the way last season ended, there was some motivation on my part and that of the returning players to work harder this year to ensure the team was going to have success,” said Malinski. “I have been focused on trying to take care of things in the defensive end first and let that translate into offense on the other end. We have a team that is full of talented players and our goal this year is to make sure we make the playoffs and give ourselves a change to win a Robertson Cup. Beyond that, I just want to keep working hard and improving to the point to where I am able to realize my dream of playing NCAA Division I hockey.”
Runner-Up: Andrew Kruse, Minnesota Magicians
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): JJ Boucher, Kenai River Brown Bears – Brenden Datema, Amarillo Bulls - Stanislav Dosek, Janesville Jets – Cam Gaudette, Northeast Generals – Kyle Gudme, Springfield Jr. Blues – Tim Makowski, Aberdeen Wings – CJ McGee, Shreveport Mudbugs – Jed Pietila, Austin Bruins – John Stampohar, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Nick Strom, Minot Minotauros – Hunter Toale, Johnstown Tomahawks – Quinn Warmuth, Maryland Black Bears
Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Kyle McClellan, Austin Bruins
Austin Bruins goalie and NAPHL grad Kyle McClellan, 19, helped his team to a 6-0-2 record in the month of October and the 6’1/170 lbs. native of Manchester, Missouri, is off to a great start in the NAHL. During the month, McClellan posted a 4-0-1 record, which included an NAHL-leading three shutouts, a 1.18 goals against average and a .956 save percentage. McClellan, who currently leads the NAHL with three shutouts, is 2nd in goals against average (1.71) and 3rd in save percentage (.939), posted shutouts of the Brookings Blizzard (Oct. 6), Minnesota Magicians (Oct. 20), and Chippewa Steel (Oct. 27) during the month. “Kyle has been a big part of our early season success. He has been putting in extra work with goalie coach Nick Lehr and continually gets better each week. The NAPHL’s CarShield AAA Program did a great job of developing Kyle for the jump to the NAHL and we are very happy to have him in Austin,” said Bruins head coach Steve Howard.
“We have good team chemistry and it helps that we have a team that can score some goals. That gives you a lot of confidence as a goalie because you aren’t afraid of giving up a goal because you know your teammates will have your back. I think we have a team here that can compete for a Robertson Cup and I just want to keep getter better and hopefully end up with an NCAA Division I opportunity,” said McClellan. As for playing and developing in the NAPHL, McClellan said that it provided a great outlet for development. “I think the competition you face in the NAPHL prepares you, along with the events, exposure, and the travel. The more times a scout can see you, the better your chances are for advancement. They see a progression of development and there is plenty of exposure playing in the NAPHL. The pace of play in the NAHL is a lot faster, so it took me a few games to really get used to it, but I think the knowledge of what to expect is invaluable.”
Runner-Up: Gavin Enright, Kenai River Brown Bears
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Maiszon Balboa, Shreveport Mudbugs - Cole Brady, Janesville Jets – Nick Grabko, Minot Minotauros – Jason Grande, Amarillo Bulls – Ethan Haider, Minnesota Magicians – Caleb Hannon, Springfield Jr. Blues – Nate Reid, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – John Roberts, Bismarck Bobcats – Matt Vernon, Aberdeen Wings