NAHL announces monthly player awards for March
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of March. The Forward of the Month is Sam Rice from the Chippewa Steel. The Defenseman of the Month is Pierce Patterson from the Amarillo Wranglers. The Goaltender of the Month is Adam Gajan from the Chippewa Steel. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Sam Rice, Chippewa Steel
Chippewa Steel forward Sam Rice, 19, continued his impressive rookie season in the month of March as he led the NAHL in scoring, while also helping the Steel move into playoff position. The 5’9/161 lbs. native of Prior Lake, MN, played in nine games during the month and recorded 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists) and was a +8. Rice had five multi-point games and was named the Midwest Division Star of the Week for March 20-26 when he recorded seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) and was a +4 in two contests against the 1st place Wisconsin Windigo. For the season, Rice currently leads the Steel in scoring with 57 points in 55 games played to date. “We are so proud and excited for Sam. The consistency in his game night after night has made this such a special season. For a first-year junior player to do what he has done offensively is truly outstanding. We cannot wait to see him continue to elevate his game as the stakes get higher,” said Steel head coach Casey Mignone.
“Our team has had a lot of success over this last month because we have bought in to playing the game the right way. We have lots of skilled players and playing the right way has brought the skill out in everyone’s game granting lots of success and helping us being able to win games,” said Rice. “I want to win the Robertson Cup which has been a goal for every guy on our team since the beginning of the year. A long-term goal for me is earning an NCAA Division I commitment and playing NCAA Division I hockey.”
Runner-Up: Victor Widlund, Wisconsin Windigo
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Nick Ahern, Johnstown Tomahawks – William Ahlrik, Oklahoma Warriors – Logan Dombrowsky, North Iowa Bulls – Max Hamstad, Philadelphia Rebels – Calvin Hanson, Bismarck Bobcats – Tyler Herzberg, F, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Ben Ivey, Amarillo Wranglers – Chase LaPinta, Minot Minotauros – Tony Leahy, New Mexico Ice Wolves – Ryan Mansfield, Odessa Jackalopes – Bryce Monrean, Kenai River Brown Bears – Cameron Morris, Anchorage Wolverines – Garrett Steele, Shreveport Mudbugs – Dylan Wegner, Aberdeen Wings
Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Pierce Patterson, Amarillo Wranglers
Amarillo Wranglers defenseman Pierce Patterson, 21, continued his solid season in the month of March for the Wranglers, who are making a serious push for the playoffs. The 5’10/170 lbs. native of Austin, TX, tied for the NAHL scoring lead during the month with 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 11 games played. Patterson, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Army next season, had seven multi-point games during the month and was a +8. For the season, Patterson not only leads the Wranglers in scoring so far this season but also leads all NAHL defensemen in scoring during the 2022-23 regular season with 53 points in 53 games played. “Pierce has steadily built his overall game this season and will be an impactful freshman at Army next season. Pierce’s leadership and surging play the last 30 days is a testament to his dedication and coachability,” said Amarillo head coach Harry Mahood.
“I think success has come from just fully buying into our system. We saw what we were capable of in Oklahoma City and just building off that big win seemed to help us throughout the following weeks and hopefully through these next two as well,” said Patterson. “For these next two weeks I want to help put my team in a playoff position, ascit’s really coming down to the wire so it will be interesting for sure. As for my career, I just want to play high level hockey for as long as I can, whether it’s professionally or ending after college as long as I’m making an impact on my team, I’ll be happy.”
Runner-Up: Logan Heroux, Shreveport Mudbugs
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Nick Baer, Bismarck Bobcats – Devon Carlstrom, Aberdeen Wings – Luke deVries, Philadelphia Rebels – Daniil Dolzhenko, Wisconsin Windigo – Mac Gadowsky, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Dillon Kuntz, New Mexico Ice Wolves – Gabriel Lunn, Johnstown Tomahawks – Trent Powell, Anchorage Wolverines – Therien Thiesing, Oklahoma Warriors – Jacob Toll, North Iowa Bulls – Jacob Zwirecki, Kenai River Brown Bears
True Hockey NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Adam Gajan, Chippewa Steel
Chippewa Steel goalie Adam Gajan, 18, had a busy month of March as he helped his team into playoff position in the Midwest Division. The 6’3/176 lbs. native of Poprad, Slovakia, appeared in eight games during the month of March and posted a 6-0-2 record and did not lose a game in regulation. Gajan, who represented his home country of Slovakia at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, faced 261 shots during the month and made 244 saves, which was good for a 2.06 goals against average and a .930 save percentage. Six of the eight games were played on the road. For the season, the Minnesota-Duluth commit has an 18-11-3 record in 32 games played with a 2.61 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. “Adam has had an incredible year. He exploded onto the scene at the NAHL Showcase and hasn’t looked back. Seeing him back in a Chippewa Steel jersey, playing at such a high level is so exciting and incredible for our organization and our staff. He’s an outstanding goaltender and an even better person,” said Steel head coach Casey Mignone.
“I think we just started to play with more confidence during the month, shooting more pucks and playing good as a team,” said Gajan. Our team’s goal for this season is to win the Robertson Cup and my long term goal is to be NHL goalie and be the best as I can be.”
Runner-Up: Simon Bucheler, Shreveport Mudbugs
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Maxwell Beckford, Wisconsin Windigo – Carter Clafton, Amarillo Wranglers - Mitch Day, North Iowa Bulls – Dylan Johnson, Oklahoma Warriors – Jakub Krbecek, Philadelphia Rebels – Linards Lipskis, Bismarck Bobcats – Cole Moore, Aberdeen Wings – Gergely Orosz, Odessa Jackalopes – Isak Posch, Minnesota Wilderness – Alec Rajalin-Scharp, Johnstown Tomahawks – Shane Soderwall, Anchorage Wolverines – Carsen Stokes, New Mexico Ice Wolves – Nils Wallstrom, Kenai River Brown Bears – Trent Wiemken, Austin Bruins