The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Three Stars of the Week presented by Combat Hockey for the week ending January 29, 2012. 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: Andrew O’Leary, forward, Topeka RoadRunners
Scoring five goals in a game is a rarity in the NAHL. In the past eight seasons, it has happened only three times, including twice this year. The most recent came this past Saturday night as Topeka RoadRunners forward Andrew O’Leary, 20, scored five goals in a win over New Mexico. However, the most impressive part of the night was the fact that the native of Norwich, Vermont accounted for all five of his team’s goals in the 5-1 win, including the game-winner. The performance doubled O’Leary’s (6’1/210) goal total for the entire season and helped the RoadRunners sweep the Mustangs and move into 2nd place in the South Division. Topeka only had nineteen shots in the game and seven of them came off O’Leary’s stick. “It was nice to see Andrew have some success because he has worked very hard to try and get back what he gained last season,” said RoadRunners head coach Scott Langer. “Everything went right on Saturday, but he did the work by putting himself in position to score. He was good the night before too, but on Saturday he used his speed on a few goals and let his abilities take over and great things happened.”
2nd Star: Donald Olivieri, defenseman, Bismarck Bobcats
It has been a couple of years since an NAHL defenseman has reached the 15-goal plateau, but that’s exactly what Bismarck Bobcats defenseman Donald Olivieri, 20, did this past weekend as helped Bismarck to a three-game road sweep in Austin and Alexandria. For the weekend, the defenseman from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had three goals (including one game-winner) an assist and was a +2. On Friday, Olivieri (5’10/183) registered an assist in a 6-1 win at Austin. On Saturday, Olivieri scored Bismarck’s second goal on the power play in a 4-2 win and sweep of the Bruins. Olivieri saved his best game for last on Sunday, as he scored twice, including the game-winning goal, as Bismarck snapped Alexandria’s 11-game winning streak with a 4-3 road win. For the season, Olivieri has 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists) in 33 games played. His 15 goals leads all NAHL defensemen. “Donald handles and shoots the puck as good as any defenseman I have seen in anyone at this level,” said Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie. “When we needed a big goal, he always seems to set it up or score it. He also has worked very hard on playing better defensive hockey and has improved in that area as well to become a very good all-around defenseman in this league.”
3rd Star: Sean O’Rourke, defenseman, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
The ‘go-to’ guy on the Fairbanks blueline this year has been 20-year-old defenseman Sean O’Rourke. A for as much as the Ice Dogs get praised for their high-powered offense, it was the defenseman O’Rourke who helped the Ice Dogs take two of three games in Alaska against the Avalanche this past weekend and creep closer to 1st place in the West Division. On Thursday, O’Rourke chipped in with an assist on the game-winning goal in a 3-0 shutout win. On Friday, the Alta Loma, California native had two more assists in a close 6-5 loss. On Saturday, O’Rourke (5’9/180) again chimed in with two more assists in a 7-2 win. For the weekend, O’Rourke registered five assists in three games and was a +3. He leads Fairbanks in scoring for defensemen with 27 points (4 goals, 23 assists) in 29 games played. “Sean showed great leadership and was key part of winning the series against Alaska,” said Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart. “Sean always knows where his teammates are on the ice and is an essential part of our power play. He is a fierce competitor and one of the heart and souls of the team.”
Other players nominated were (alphabetical): Clint Carlisle, forward, Amarillo Bulls – Wehebe Darge, forward, Alaska Avalache – Mike Davis, forward, Amarillo Bulls – Codey Hansen, forward, Alaska Avalanche – Joey Haydock, forward, Chicago Hitmen – AJ Jarosz, forward, Corpus Christi IceRays – Bill Kent, forward, New Mexico Mustangs – Jalen Krogman, forward, Odessa Jackalopes – Truman Landowski, forward, Janesville Jets – Aaron Nelson, goaltender, Bismarck Bobcats – Robert Nichols, goaltender, Wenatchee Wild – Tyler Poulsen, forward, Odessa Jackalopes – Cory Ramsey, defenseman, Topeka RoadRunners – Tate Rusk, defenseman, New Mexico Mustangs – Zach Schrotenboer, forward, Chicago Hitmen.