The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced that St. Louis Bandits forward Joe Kalisz has been named the Combat Hockey NAHL Player of the Month for February.
The forward from Davison, Michigan appeared in nine games during the month, helping St. Louis post a 7-2-0 record during the month of February to help the Bandits get back in the Midwest Division title race. He recorded 20 points in those nine games which included six goals and 14 assists. The 20 points during February was the most for any NAHL player. Kalisz, 20, was also an amazing +13 during the month. Kalisz scored in seven of the Bandits nine games during February, and five of those games were multi-point games.
“I think myself and the whole team got back to basics during the last month,” said Kalisz. “Sometimes you get in bad habits and I think we just tried to simplify things… driving to the net, getting more shots on goal, getting rebound and getting those greasy goals. It doesn’t matter how you score as long as we are putting the puck in the net and I think we started to do that again.”
Two weeks ago in a split with the Michigan Warriors, Kalisz had the rare feat of factoring in on all nine of his team’s goals over the weekend. On February 17th, Friday, Kalisz registered a career-high six points (2 goals, 4 assists) in a 6-1 win over the Warriors. The next night, Kalisz picked up a goal and two more assists in a close 4-3 loss. For the weekend, Kalisz had three goals and six assists for nine points and factored in on the scoring sheet on every St. Louis goal.
Kalisz, who committed to the University of Connecticut earlier this season, ranks tied for 3rd in NAHL scoring with 69 points in 50 games. “Joe has become an elite player and understands where he needs to be on the ice in order to produce the points he does. He makes our offense go,” said St. Louis head coach Jeff Brown. “Joe is a natural leader. I think when he starts to get in a lull, he knows when to pick himself up. That’s the type of maturity and leadership he has shown all year. He knows it starts with him in the lockerroom and he tries to convey that to his teammates.”
Kalisz’s play has been taken to another level since his commitment to UCONN, something he said that is a combination of a few things. “I think it is a relief for any player to realize that Division I commitment because it is what you have been working so hard for during your time in the NAHL,” said Kalisz. “But, at the same time, you want to keep performing and elevating your game for your team and to prove that when you do get to college to play hockey, you are there to have an impact. I want to keep getting better every day.”
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Anthony Appleyard, defenseman, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – Jacob Barber, forward, Wenatchee Wild – Brian Christie, forward, Topeka RoadRunners – Lawrence Cornellier, forward, Odessa Jackalopes – Tanner Fahlstedt, forward, Alaska Avalanche – Greg Gibson, forward, Amarillo Bulls – Matt Hansen, forward, Austin Bruins – Sean O’Rourke, defenseman, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Jack Prince, forward, Texas Tornado – Hayden Trupp, forward, Alexandria Blizzard.
Previous NAHL Player of the Month winners: September 2011, JT Osborn, forward, Fairbanks Ice Dogs - October 2011, Robbie Payne, forward, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings - November 2011, Brooks Behling, forward, Amarillo Bulls – December 2011, Darren McCormick, forward, Janesville Jets – January 2012, Reid Sturos, forward, Alexandria Blizzard.