NAHL Alumni Update
Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Month: Brandon Koch, Air Force (Coulee Region Chill)
Brandon Koch was the top scoring rookie and top scoring defenseman in Atlantic Hockey in January. He had nine points on three goals and six assists, had a plus-2 rating, and registered five blocks in nine contests. Koch’s month was highlighted by a three-point effort in a 4-3 win over Niagara, which, at the time, was his second multi-point effort of the season. He also had a two assist game to close the month in a 5-4 overtime loss to #20 Sacred Heart. Koch assisted on two game-winning goals as Air Force beat AIC and Niagara.
Atlantic Hockey Defensive Player of the Week: Janis Jaks, AIC (Minnesota Wilderness)
Janis Jaks was dominant in a sweep of Mercyhurst for AIC. He scored twice and added an assist, including Saturday's winning goal, and held a +4 rating, while helping to hold the Lakers to a combined 37 shots on goal in the two games. He was not on ice for any goals against on the weekend.
ECAC Rookie of the Month and Week: Nick Abruzzese, Harvard (New Jersey Titans)
Abruzzese was outstanding in Harvard’s lone game this week, scoring two goals and adding two assists as part of an eight-goal night for the Crimson. He’s now leading the nation in rookie scoring, averaging 1.35 points per-game this season.
NCHC Goalie of the Month: Hunter Shepard, Minnesota-Duluth (Bismarck Bobcats)
Shepard sustained his strong senior campaign playing every second in net for Minnesota Duluth in January, backstopping UMD to a 3-3-1 record. He led the NCHC with 209 saves in the month, while ranking second with a .921 save percentage. In seven starts during the month, three of which came against top-five opponents, he compiled a 2.57 goals-against average, which was third in the NCHC. The UMD co-captain also broke the NCAA record for consecutive starts with his 105th straight start on Jan. 25. Shepard compiled 30 or more saves in four of his seven games in January. He opened the month combining for 76 games in a win and tie against Western Michigan, including a career-high-tying 41 saves in the Jan. 11 tie, as he was tabbed NCHC Goaltender of the Week. The following weekend he surrendered only three goals total in two losses at St. Cloud State, while racking up 44 saves. Shepard totaled 50 saves in a split with then-No. 2 North Dakota on Jan. 24-25, breaking the NCAA consecutive starts record, while he made 39 more saves, the fourth-most saves of his career, to close out the month in a 3-2 win at then-No. 4 Denver on Jan. 31.
NCHC Goalie of the Week: Peter Thome, North Dakota (Aberdeen Wings)
In his first time starting both games of a weekend series this season, Thome was rock solid, allowing only one goal all weekend while backstopping North Dakota to a sweep of Colorado College. They were only his third and fourth starts of the season, as well. In Friday’s opener in Grand Forks, Thome was stellar, stopping all 25 shots he faced, which was needed in a narrow, 1-0 victory over the Tigers. The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect made 12 saves in the second period when the game was still scoreless, and stopped four shots short-handed to help kill all three CC power plays. He earned Second Star of the Game for his first shutout of the season and second of his career. A night later, Thome made 14 more saves in an 8-1 rout, including three more short-handed saves to help kill off all five Tiger man advantages. Thome finished the series with 39 saves on 40 shots for a .975 save percentage and a 0.50 goals-against average to go with his two wins and shutout. Of his 39 saves, seven were short-handed to help UND go a perfect 8-for-8 on the penalty kill. Thome is now 4-0-1 on the season with a 1.35 GAA and a .928 save percentage in six games played.
WCHA Rookie of the Month: AJ Vanderbeck, Northern Michigan (Lone Star Brahmas)
Northern Michigan's AJ Vanderbeck shared the WCHA rookie and NCAA rookie defenseman lead in points with nine on two goals and seven assists in January. The Monument, Colo., native joined the NMU squad at the beginning of the month and immediately paid dividends in the NMU attack, tallying a pair of power-play goals during the month and registering his first career game-winning goal in the Wildcats' 4-2 win at Alaska on Jan. 25. The freshman's two power-play markers tied for the WCHA rookie lead for the month while his +8 rating led all league newcomers.
WCHA Goaltender of the Week: Zach Driscoll, Bemidji State (Austin Bruins)
Bemidji State's Zach Driscoll turned aside 56-of-59 shots he faced, helping BSU to a WCHA series sweep over Bowling Green. Following a 29-save performance in Friday's 4-1 victory, the Apple Valley, Minn., native made 27 saves to extend the Beavers winning streak to three games and give BSU its 10th home victory of the season. In addition, he backstopped a penalty-kill unit that held BGSU to 1-for-5 on the man advantage in the series. He finished the weekend 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .949 save percentage to lead the league in GAA and rank second in save percentage. This is his fifth WCHA weekly honor and his second this season.
SPHL Player of the Week: Henry Dill, Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs (Aberdeen Wings)
Dill got the start in the first of Roanoke’s three-game set on Thursday and turned in a solid performance, making 31 saves as the Dawgs rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Huntsville 2-1. Dill closed out the series on Saturday by stopping 32 of 34 shots in Roanoke’s 2-1 loss to the Ice Flyers. Dill has posted a 6-3-1 record since being signed on December 30, recording a 2.56 goals against average and 0.926 save percentage with one shutout.