The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of October. The Combat Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month for October is Brandon Hawkins from the Texas Tornado. The Combat Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month for October is Cody Dixon from the Austin Bruins. The Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month for October is Tyler Marble from the Soo Eagles. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Combat Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Brandon Hawkins, Texas Tornado
To date, no one player in the NAHL has lit more red lights than Texas Tornado rookie forward Brandon Hawkins, 18. The native of Macomb, Michigan, currently leads the NAHL in goals with 15, thanks in large part to his torrid month of October. Hawkins (5’11/200) registered 16 points in the month of November, which led the NAHL. He racked up 12 goals and four assists. Three of his goals were of the game-winning variety and he was also a +3 during the month. Hawkins registered at least a goal in eight of the 10 games played during the month of October, which also included five multi-point games. Back on October 8th, he was named the NAHL South Division Star of the Week for his six-point weekend at Corpus Christi. He currently leads the Tornado in scoring with 21 points in 15 games played.
Hawkins is currently in his rookie season in the NAHL and with the Tornado. Last season, he played for the Little Caesars Midget Major team of the High Performance Hockey League (HPHL), where he actually played defense the majority of the season. “I think coming into the league, we knew he had good hands and a lethal shot, but we really focused on working on his footwork and his conditioning, so he could become a good, all-around player,” said Texas head coach Tony Curtale. “He is a really good guy, works very hard and possesses one of the best shots I have seen in a long time. The challenge for us right now is that have a very young team and a lot of rookies this season such as Brandon, and we have to make sure they pay attention to and understand all of the facets of the game, both offensively and defensively.”
Hawkins agreed that when he arrived in Texas, there was a learning curve. “You have to get yourself into really good rhythm and game shape because right off the bat, you are at the NAHL Showcase playing four games in four days in front of hundreds of scouts, so it was an eye-opener,” said Hawkins. “The NAHL is very fast-paced and I had to get adjusted to the speed. Once all that happened I really settled in a found a good groove. I have worked really hard to get into the best shape possible and I think it is paying off. We have a really young, but talented group of players, so we are excited about what is possible for us this season. I think if I can keep working hard, learning and putting the puck into the net it will hopefully lead to a Division I opportunity.”
Runner-Up: Matt Seidel, Kenai River Brown Bears
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Daniel Cesarz, Jamestown Ironmen – Sean Gaffney, Topeka RoadRunners – Mac Jansen, Coulee Region Chill – Robbie Payne, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – Blake Roubos, Wenatchee Wild – TJ Sarcona, Amarillo Bulls – Brett Skibba, Springfield Jr. Blues – Jared Van Wormer, Soo Eagles – Brandon Wahlin, Austin Bruins – Thomas Williams, Brookings Blizzard.
Previous Winners: September 2012-Jono Davis, Wenatchee Wild
Combat Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Cody Dixon, Austin Bruins
Talk about making a 180 degree turn… at the end of September, defenseman Cody Dixon, 20, was traded from the Springfield Jr. Blues to the Austin Bruins and left looking for a new identity. A month later, the native of Hales Corners, Wisconsin, is coming off his best statistical month in the NAHL earning him the Defenseman of the Month award for October. During the month, Dixon (5’11/185) registered nine points in eight games played, which included an incredible six goals from the blueline. He was also a +7 during the month as the Austin Bruins moved themselves into 1st place in the Central Division. Dixon is currently riding a six-game point streak and registered at least a point in seven of his eight games played in November.
Dixon spent the entire season last year in the NAHL with the Springfield Jr. Blues. Austin head coach Chris Tok said that they felt very fortunate to pick up in a trade. “We were familiar with Cody and we needed some more production from the blueline, so we felt like it was a good fit for us and a good deal to make,” said Tok. “He made an instant impact with the team, especially on the power play. There was some ready good chemistry from the moment he joined our team and I think that made the transition easier for everyone. I think he has really made everyone around him better, which has translated into team success.”
Dixon’s first games with the Bruins came at the beginning of October and he said he wanted to make the best of the situation. “I think it was a gut check for me because I was comfortable in Springfield, but after the first few days in Austin, I knew it was going to be a really good place for me to play,” said Dixon. “I have really tried to concentrate on making our breakout and transition to offense the best it can be. That first pass is so important, so that is something I have really tried to work hard on. Most important to me is team success. We have a group of forwards that work as hard in the defensive zone as they do in the offensive zone, so it makes it a lot easier on the defensemen. I think we have the team here to contend for the Robertson Cup. I think that is my short term goal right now. Long term, hopefully I can keep playing well, working hard and get a Division I opportunity.”
Runner-Up: Jacob Davidson, Kenai River Brown Bears
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Brett Beauvais, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – Drew Brevig, Brookings Blizzard – Michal Pastor, Topeka RoadRunners – John Rey, Amarillo Bulls – Doug Rose, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Jack Sloan, Springfield Jr. Blues – Cody Von Rueden, Soo Eagles – Dylan Zink, Jamestown Ironmen.
Previous Winners: September 2012-Mark Evan Auk, Port Huron Fighting Falcons
Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Tyler Marble, Soo Eagles
Heading into November, the Soo Eagles find themselves in 2nd place in the North Division, just a single point out of 1st place. A direct result of them climbing the standings in October has been goaltender Tyler Marble, 20. The three-year NAHL veteran and Lake Superior State recruit had one of his best months since coming into the league back in 2009. In the month of October, the native of Howell, Michigan, posted a 4-0-1 record, with the lone blemish coming a shootout loss on the road in Johnstown. He faced 195 shots during the month and only have up eight goals, making 188 saves, which was good for a 96.4% save percentage. Marble (6’1/180) posted a 1.35 goals against average during the month, which included two shutouts. The first was a 30-save shutout on Oct. 20th in Johnstown. The second was a 44-save performance in a 4-0 shutout win in Michigan on Oct. 26th. Marble leads all NAHL goalies in save percentage with a 94.9% mark so far this season.
Eagles head coach Bruno Bragagnolo believes that Marble has been an essential piece of the puzzle to the Eagles recent success. “Because Tyler is a veteran guy, he has had a calming effect on the team. Our guys don’t get nervous or play nervous when he is in goal. They know that he is back there to back them up if they make a mistake,” said Bragagnolo. “I think he is in the unique situation of already having a college commitment, so I think he is out there to prove that he wants to be the top goalie in the league, but also wants to show the Lake Superior State coaches that he is improving each game and going to be a college-ready goalie when he arrives there next fall. He knows how to stop the puck, control the puck and play with confidence.”
As for Marble, he is quick to give the credit of his recent success to his teammates. “We have a very skilled and talented group of players and once they had a chance to get a few games under their belt in September, they started to really play well as a group in October and made my job a lot easier,” said Marble. “Right now my number one priority is helping this team win every night I am in goal. However, I know I have to maintain my focus and work hard if I want to continue that success at the next level with Lake Superior State. I think there are always parts of my game that could use some improvement, so I want to continue to try and improve on that. My experience with the Soo Eagles has been tremendous. We have a great fan base who are all very supportive. Coach Bragagnolo has a lot of confidence in me and I want to continue to stay mentally tough and continue to play consistent and confident.”
Runner-Up: Paul Berrafato, Amarillo Bulls
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Ryan Kellenberger, Springfield Jr. Blues – Erick Majerle, Brookings Blizzard – Reid Mimmack, Jamestown Ironmen – Spencer Viele, Topeka RoadRunners.
Previous Winners: September 2012-Drew Weigman, Brookings Blizzard
About Combat Hockey
The Official Equipment Supplier of the NAHL, Combat Sports has been extremely successful the past 10 years as the fastest-growing North American baseball/softball bat, hockey stick and lacrosse shaft manufacturing company. Visit Combat online here.
About Brian's Custom Sports
The Official Goaltending Equipment Supplier of the NAHL, Brian's has been a leading Canadian supplier of custom built goal equipment since 1984. The factory is located in Kingsville, Ontario near the Southern tip of Canada with ready access to supplying the North American market. As one of the original and remaining custom goal equipment manufacturers Brian's remains committed to continuing to lead the industry with exceptional design and quality. Visit Brian’s online here.