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NAHL announces Combat Hockey Divisional Stars of the Week

February 25, 2013

The NAHL Divisional Stars of the Week (from top left to bottom right): CJ Smith, Tyler Spezia, Tyler Poulsen and Matt Salituro.

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Combat Hockey for the week ending February 24, 2013.  The Divisional Stars of the Week is a weekly feature during the 2012-13 regular season that honors the top performing players in each of the four NAHL divisions as nominated by their respective teams.

Central Division Star of the Week: CJ Smith, forward, Austin Bruins

The Bruins got closer to a regular season title with their weekend home sweep of the 2nd place Bismarck Bobcats this past weekend.  Forward CJ Smith, 18, had a busy week and big impact over the weekend.  After playing for the NAHL 18U Selects Team at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament on Monday-Wednesday, the Richfield, Minnesota native returned to Austin where he had five points (1 goal, 4 assists) in the weekend sweep of the Bobcats.  All of Smith’s (5’11/175) points came in the second game of the weekend, an 8-3 win over Bismarck.  Smith was also a +3 during the weekend.  His 49 points to date are a career high and rank tied for 3rd on the Bruins roster.  “CJ had a long week and I thought his outstanding play was a testament to his talents, drive and conditioning,” said Bruins head coach Chris Tok.  “Bismarck is a very tough team to play against, so the fact he was able to make a significant impact is proof as to how well he played.”

2nd Star: Tim Shaughnessy, goaltender, Coulee Region Chill

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Erik Baskin, forward, Aberdeen Wings – Peter Krieger, forward, Aberdeen Wings.

North Division Star of the Week: Tyler Spezia, forward, Port Huron Fighting Falcons

Newly acquired Port Huron forward Tyler Spezia, 19, made his presence felt this weekend as he helped the Fighting Falcons earn a weekend split of their series in Janesville as they sit in position to make the playoffs with just eight games remaining in the regular season.  The native of Clinton Township, Michigan, recorded a point in six of Port Huron’s nine total goals over the weekend, which included three goals and three assists.  On Friday, Spezia (5’11/170) had two goals (including the game-winner) and two assists in a 7-1 win.  On Saturday, he chimed in with a goal and an assist in a 5-2 loss.  Despite the split, Spezia was a +4 on the weekend and has eight points and two game-winning goals in his six games played with the Fighting Falcons thus far.  “This past weekend was probably the most comfortable for Tyler.  Has settled in with his linemates and created some great chemistry with them,” said Port Huron head coach Michael Gershon.  “He set the tone from the first game this weekend and it’s been a very pleasant surprise to have a player of his caliber on the team and contributing the way he has.”

2nd Star: Jared VanWormer, forward, Soo Eagles

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Ryan Atkinson, forward, Springfield Jr. Blues – Zach Diamantoni, forward, Janesville Jets – Brock Kautz, goaltender, Janesville Jets – Sean Murphy, forward, Soo Eagles – Alex Okicki, goaltender, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – David Parrittino, forward, Port Huron Fighting Falcons – Robbie Payne, forward, Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings – Brett Skibba, forward, Springfield Jr. Blues.

South Division Star of the Week: Tyler Poulsen, forward, Topeka RoadRunners

Thanks to a weekend road sweep of the Tornado and a subsequent seven-game winning streak, the Topeka RoadRunners sit comfortably in 2nd place in the South Division and still have their sights set on 1st place.  Leading the way this past weekend was 19-year-old forward Tyler Poulsen.  The Arvada, Colorado native made a significant impact in each of the RoadRunners two wins in Texas in the weekend sweep.  On Friday, Poulsen (5’7/146) had an assist in the eventual game-tying goal in Topeka’s 4-3 win over the Tornado.  A night later, he scored twice (including the game-winning goal) and added an assist in a 4-2 win over Texas.  He was also a +3 during the weekend.  “We acquired Tyler for exactly what he has been doing, which is adding depth to our offense and providing some spark and talent,” said Topeka head coach Scott Langer.  “He has been very dynamic, especially since Christmas and is a threat every time he touches the ice.  Tyler plays with a lot of speed and plays with some grit.  He is tough to play against.”  

2nd Star: Conor O’Neil, forward, Wichita Falls Wildcats

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Gage Christianson, forward, Amarillo Bulls – Tyler Groat, forward, Topeka RoadRunners – Ben Myers, goaltender, Corpus Christi IceRays – TJ Sherman, defenseman, Amarillo Bulls.

West Division Star of the Week: Matt Salituro, forward, Fresno Monsters

Fresno’s sweep of the Tomahawks in Johnstown couldn’t have come at a better time for the team.  Having lost their last 10 games heading into the weekend, the Monsters needed a sweep and got one thanks to timely scoring and good goaltending.  One of those point producers was forward Matt Salituro, 20.  The native of Richmond Hill, Ontario, began the week by helping the Frontier team win the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.  His weekend concluded with a two-goal effort over the weekend in two tightly contested wins.  Salituro’s (5’11/185) big night came on Friday, in which he scored both goals in regulation in a 3-2 shootout win.  Although his night ended early on Saturday, Salituro was the biggest contributor offensively for the Monsters during the winning weekend.  “It was important for us to get back on the right track and Matt had a big impact for us during the weekend,” said Monsters head coach Eric Ballard.  “He plays with an edge and works hard to provide himself and his teammates with scoring chances.”

2nd Star: Mitchell Snyder, forward, Fresno Monsters

Honorable Mention (alphabetical): None

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