The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Three Stars of the Week presented by Combat Hockey for the week ending December 19, 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: Connor McBride, forward, Janesville Jets
Janesville’s momentum from their overtime win over division-leading St. Louis back on December 11th carried right into this past weekend as they traveled to Chicago for a three-game road set against the Hitmen. Thanks in large part for forward Connor McBride, the Jets kept that momentum going with a sweep of all three games and kept pace for the division lead. McBride, 20, recorded nine points (5 goals, 4 assists) in the sweep and now is tied for the Jets team lead in scoring. The native of Hartland, Wisconsin struck for two goals and two assists in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, which the Jets won 6-4 and 8-2 respectively. On Sunday with the Jets down 3-1, McBride scored a key power play goal that fueled the Jets comeback to win 4-3. For the season the 5’10/175 lbs. forward has 29 points in 29 games played. This is McBride’s second year with the Jets. Last season, he was selected to compete at the 2011 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor before sustaining an injury. “Connor had a very big weekend for us. I think he really got back on track after he scored the overtime winner against St. Louis last weekend,” said Jets head coach Dane Litke. “He is a streaky scorer so when he is working hard to get to the net, shooting more and playing with a lot of confidence. He is at the top of his game and helps us be a better team.”
2nd Star: Jeffrey Pauluk, defenseman, Fresno Monsters
Fresno has the #1 power play in the league as a big reason why may be the play of this week’s #2 star, defenseman Jeffrey Pauluk. This past weekend the native of Bloomington, Minnesota recorded five points (1 goal, 4 assists) from the blueline in two games as Fresno continued their current winning streak with a weekend road sweep at Dawson Creek. Pauluk, 19, was also a +4 during the weekend and he currently leads the Monsters in scoring for defenseman with 22 points in 22 games played. He ranks tied for 4th in the NAHL in defensive scoring. On Friday he recorded an assist in Fresno’s 5-3 win over the Rage. On Saturday, the 5’7/165 lbs. Pauluk had a shorthanded goal and three assists in an 8-5 win, which extended Fresno’s winning streak to four games. “I think Jeff has learned a lot in the two years he has been playing in the NAHL, and it is showing,” said Monsters head coach Eric Ballard. “He is more productive offensively, better defensively and is playing in every possible situation for us. He isn’t big, but he has the skill necessary to compete and play at the next level and has been the anchor for us all season long.”
3rd Star: Cory Ward, forward, Aberdeen Wings
Every team has its most valuable player and Aberdeen forward Cory Ward may be just that for the Wings this season. This past weekend, Ward, 18, helped the Wings sweep a home-and-home set with the Minot Minotauros as Aberdeen has now won six of their last seven games. Ward finished the weekend with five points (4 goals, 1 assist) in two games played and was a +4 on the weekend. On Friday, the Las Vegas, Nevada native recorded a goal and assist as the Wings beat Minot 4-3 in overtime. Ward scored the game-tying goal on a penalty shot with just one-second remaining in regulation. The next night, Ward recorded a hat-trick, which included goals in all three periods as Aberdeen beat Minot, 5-1. For the year, Ward leads the Wings in scoring with 39 points in 28 games played and he also ranks 5th in the NAHL in scoring. “I think Cory did a great job of finding the net, but what people don’t understand is how good he has been defensively,” said Wings head coach Pete Sauer. “Playing the defensive part of the game is just as important to him as scoring. He goes out of his way be physical and deliver a hit. He is the perfect example of how you should play two-way hockey and it’s one of the major reasons he obtained a scholarship. He is one of the best pressure players I have seen.”
Other players nominated were (alphabetical): Anthony Appleyard, defenseman, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – Jordan Bancroft, forward, Janesville Jets – Karl Beckman, defenseman, Amarillo Bulls – Riley Borer, forward, Fresno Monsters – Tyler Bruggeman, goaltender, Austin Bruins – Tommy Burke, goaltender, Bismarck Bobcats – Ben Carey, forward, Wenatchee Wild – Michael Dery, forward, Corpus Christi IceRays – Frank Dichiara, forward, St. Louis Bandits – Kyle Gattelaro, forward, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – Tyler Green, goaltender, St. Louis Bandits – Gabe Levin, forward, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Peter Megariotis, goaltender, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Reid Mimmack, goaltender, Texas Tornado – Patrick Moore, forward, Bismarck Bobcats – Sean O’Rourke, defenseman, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – CJ Reuschlein, forward, Texas Tornado – Blake Roubos, forward, Wenatchee Wild – Anthony Stolarz, goaltender, Corpus Christi IceRays – Mike Taffe, goaltender, Amarillo Bulls – Nolan Valleau, defenseman, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Marcus Zelzer, goaltender, Aberdeen Wings.
NOTE: Because there are no NAHL regular season games this week due to the holidays, there will be no 3 stars award on December 26th. The next 3 stars award will be announced on Monday, January 2nd.