The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that Amarillo Bulls forward Brooks Behling has been named the Combat Hockey NAHL Player of the Month for November.
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native has led the Bulls to the top record in the North American Hockey League through the first three months of the season, which included an 8-2-1 mark in the month of November. Behling, 20, recorded 17 points (11 goals, 6 assists) in 10 games played during the month. Behling (6’1/180) recorded at least a point in nine of his 10 games played during the month including five multi-point games. During the month of November, he recorded three-game winning goals and was +12.
Behling’s best performances of the month happen to come in back-to-back games game on November 17th and 18th, as the Bulls won a pair of road games against Odessa and Texas. On November 17th, Behling had a goal and three assists in an 8-2 win over the Jackalopes. The next night, Behling scored three of the Bulls four goals including the overtime winner in a 4-3 road win against the Tornado. “Brooks has worked hard on so many things and it is finally starting to pay off for him,” said Bulls head coach Dennis Williams. “He is a testament to the model of what is being done in the North American Hockey League. He is a player that buys into a system and a belief and with hard work, development and execution has turned himself into a legitimate NCAA Division I prospect.”
So far through 27 games this season Behling, who is in his second year in the NAHL, has set career highs in goals, assists and points. Last season with Amarillo and Chicago, Behling had 14 goals and 13 assists for 27 points in 54 games played. He also recorded 149 penalty minutes last season. However, entering this season Behling said from the start he knew his role was going to be different. “At the end of last season Coach Williams pulled me aside and told me I was going to play a key role in 2011-12,” said Behling. “He wanted me to be a leader and told me that I was a guy who had the capability to score goals and generate offense. That really gave me the confidence to work hard over the summer and come into this season a better, more well-rounded player.”
“I think our veteran players, which include Brooks, came back with a chip on their shoulder after getting so close last season,” said Williams. “They understand they are here for hockey and school, and develop to the best of their ability in both. Brooks is a guy who emulates that and one day soon will get that opportunity at the next level.”
To date, Behling is tied for the league lead in goals with 21 along with Aberdeen’s Steve Obarzanek. Behling is tied for third in league scoring with 37 points, is second in the league with a +23 plus/minus rating, and is first in the league in game-winning goals (5) and shots on goal (134). “I am just trying to get pucks to net,” said Behling. “Nothing bad can happen when you shoot the puck and I have a great set of teammates and linemates. They are a huge reason we have had a good season so far, but we aren’t satisfied. We want to win the Robertson Cup and other than getting a NCAA Division I scholarship, that is my primary goal.”
Other players nominated were (alphabetical): Will Badner, forward, Traverse City North Stars – Jeff Bergh, defenseman, Alaska Avalanche – Joe Kalisz, forward, St. Louis Bandits – Jeff McFarland, forward, Jamestown Ironmen – Ian Miller, forward Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Sean O’Rourke, defenseman, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Ryan White, forward, Topeka RoadRunners.