The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Three Stars of the Week presented by Combat Hockey for the week ending December 11, 2011. The Three Stars of the Week is a weekly feature during the 2011-12 regular season that honors the top performing players each week of the regular season as nominated by their respective teams.
1st Star: AJ White, forward, Michigan Warriors
A big part of last year’s success for the Michigan Warriors was thanks in large part to players like AJ White. As one of the returners to this year’s Warriors team, White, 19, knew he would play a key role, and thus far he has done so. The Dearborn, Michigan native leads the team in scoring with 33 points and this past weekend was his best offensive output of the season. White registered seven points (4 goals, 3 assists) in the pair of weekend games for the Warriors (both wins). On Friday, White recorded a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win at Traverse City. On Saturday, White recorded a hat-trick, including the game-winning goal, and an assist for a four point night in a 5-2 win over 1st place Port Huron. White has almost eclipsed last year’s point total and already has 19 goals, which is tied for 4th in the NAHL. “AJ has been one of the players that has had the most consistency for us this season,” said Warriors head coach Moe Mantha. “He worked hard in the off-season to come back a better, more well-rounded player and he is one of the leaders for this team.”
2nd Star: Josef Pontasch, forward, Springfield Jr. Blues
Pontasch, 20, had one of his better weekends of the year as he extended his point streak to four games helping Springfield take two of three games from the Chicago Hitmen. The Perrysburg, Ohio native recorded seven points in three games as Springfield moved into 3rd place in the Midwest Division. On Friday, Pontasch recorded an assist in a 6-4 loss, however on Saturday the 6’1, 201 lbs. forward broke out for three assists in a 9-3 win by the Jr. Blues. On Sunday, Pontasch recorded a hat-trick, which included the game-winning goal in a 7-4 win. Pontasch is 3rd in scoring this season with 29 points in 28 games, just one point behind the team leaders. “Josef put a lot of work in the off-season, which has improved him as a player and made him more valuable to the team,” said Springfield head coach Joe Dibble. “He does the little things too… blocks shots, kills penalties, works on power plays… whatever he needs to do to help us win, he will do. It gives his teammates that extra motivation to work as hard has he does.”
3rd Star: Tyler Bruggeman, goaltender, Austin Bruins
Veteran goalie Tyler Bruggeman, 20, has been strong of late and this past weekend was no exception as he helped the Bruins take three of four points and move into 2nd place in the Central Division. The North Mankato, Minnesota native is in his second stint in the NAHL after leading the St. Louis Bandits to a Robertson Cup Tournament appearance back during the 2009-10 season. Bruggeman hasn’t allowed more than three goals in the game since early November and this past weekend was another example. On Friday, Bruggeman made a season-high 47 saves as the Bruins fell 3-2 in a shootout in Alexandria again the Blizzard. A night later, Bruggeman was even better as he stopped all but one shot making 24 saves against the high-powered Aberdeen offense in a 2-1 home win over the Wings. For the weekend, Bruggeman posted a 1.44 goals against average and a 95.9% save percentage, stopping 71 of a possible 74 shots. To date, Bruggeman is in the Top 10 in the NAHL in wins, goals against average and save percentage. “Tyler has done a good job on working on his rebound control and he really tries to slow the game down,” said Bruins head coach Chris Tok. “the team has confidence that if there is a breakdown he will more than likely come up with the big save for us.”
Other players nominated were (alphabetical): Charles Baldwin, forward, New Mexico Mustangs – Brett Beauvais, defenseman, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – Riley Borer, forward, Fresno Monsters – Brendan Bradley, forward, Fresno Monsters - Brandon Brossoit, forward, Alaska Avalanche – Adam Chapie, forward, New Mexico Mustangs – Perry D’Arriso, forward, Corpus Christi IceRays – Frank DeAugustine, forward, Bismarck Bobcats – Greg Gibson, forward, Amarillo Bulls – Tyler Green, goaltender, St. Louis Bandits – Jordan Greenberg, forward, Texas Tornado – Brock Kautz, goaltender, Janesville Jets – Joe Kozlak, forward, Amarillo Bulls – Jordan Lovick, forward, Texas Tornado – Ethan Nauman, forward, Springfield Jr. Blues – Aaron Nelson, goaltender, Bismarck Bobcats – Alex Okicki, goaltender, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – JT Osborn, forward, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Joe Schmitz, defenseman, Alaska Avalanche – Peter Traber, goaltender, Topeka RoadRunners – Beau Walker, forward, Corpus Christi IceRays – Justin Woods, defenseman, Fairbanks Ice Dogs.