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NAHL Alumni Update

March 15, 2024

Aaron Pionk(Photos: Steven Ellis, Northern News Now)

As the NCAA regular season comes to a close, we start this week’s NAHL alumni update by addressing a few former NAHLers signing professional contracts with NHL organizations. 

Former Janesville Jet forward Joey Abate signed a two-way contract with the Boston Bruins last week. Abate has spent the entirety of this season with the Providence Bruins, logging 3 goals and 9 assists in 42 games. Abate played for the Jets in the 2016-17 campaign, tallying 42 points in 53 regular season games as well as 6 points in the 2017 playoffs. He went on to play three years at the University of Nebraska-Omaha before beginning his professional career. 

Gustav Davis Grigals inked a 1-year two way contract with the Nashville Predators this past week. Grigals, a Latvian native, began his North American hockey career in the NAHL with the Shreveport Mudbugs in the 2017-18 season. He finished the season with a sub 2.00 GAA and .925 save percentage, earning a commitment to play at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Grigals spent three seasons with the Nanooks before finishing his collegiate career at UMass-Lowell. He made his AHL Debut with the Milwaukee Admirals on December 31st. 


Weekly Honors

Atlantic Hockey 

Atlantic Hockey Goaltender of the Week: Jason Grande, Holy Cross (Amarillo Bulls) - Grande backstopped the Crusaders to a sweep of Canisius in the Atlantic Hockey Quarterfinals. After allowing three goals in the first 33:49 of game one, the West Chester, Pa., native shut out the Canisius offense over the final 26:11 in the Crusaders' comeback victory. The effort included staving off 2:09 of extra attacker play to end the game. In Game 2, he shut down the Canisius offense over the final 73:48, spanning the end of regulation and two overtime periods to set up the Crusaders' double overtime victory. This is his sixth career Atlantic Hockey weekly honor.




CCHA Goaltender of the Week: Alex Tracy, Minnesota State (Johnstown Tomahawks) - Tracy went 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and a .967 save percentage, which were both tops among CCHA netminders in the Mason Cup Quarterfinals. On Friday, he made 32 saves in a 2-1 victory over Northern Michigan in Game 1, before turning away 26-of-27 shots in a 6-1 win in Game 2 on Saturday.

CCHA Defenseman of the Week: Eric Pohlkamp, Bemidji State (Minnesota Magicians) - Pohlkamp led the top-seeded Beavers to a Mason Cup Quarterfinal series sweep of eighth-seeded Ferris State last weekend, notching five points on three goals and two assists, to lead all CCHA defensemen. Two of his tallies came on the power play, while another was the overtime-winning goal in Game 1, which Bemidji State came back to win, 5-4. On Saturday, he scored twice in a 4-0 Beavers victory and totaled eight shots on goal and two blocks in the series.




ECAC Forward of the Week: Caden Villegas, Union (Springfield Jr. Blues) - Villegas secures Forward of the Week honors following a two-goal game in Saturday’s 6-0 triumph against Brown, propelling the Garnet Chargers to the quarterfinals. Villegas notched the game-winning goal just six minutes into the opening frame and added his second goal halfway through the third period. The junior forward registered four shots on goal in the contest.




NCHC Defenseman of the Week: Aaron Pionk, Minnesota Duluth (Minnesota Wilderness) - Pionk had a career-best weekend with four points and contributed at both ends of the ice in UMD’s sweep of then-No. 17 St. Cloud State. The Minnesota Wild draft pick tallied a career-high three points in Friday’s 6-5 overtime victory. He handed out assists on both of Ben Steeves’ goals, including on the overtime game-winner, while scoring early in the third period to cut UMD’s deficit in half at 4-3 as the Bulldogs ultimately completed the comeback. A night later, Pionk again helped set up the game-winner, assisting on Aiden Dubinsky’s power play tally that broke a 2-2 tie in the final frame and put UMD up for good in an eventual 4-2 victory.




ECHL Goaltender of the Week: Trevor Gorsuch, Wichita Thunder (Michigan Warriors) - Gorsuch went 3-0-0 with a 2.61 goals-against average and a save percentage of .932 in three appearances last week, helping Wichita to a 4-0-0 record during the week. The 29-year-old made 46 saves in a 7-1 win against Tulsa on Wednesday, stopped 35 shots in a 4-3 victory over Iowa on Friday and had 28 saves in a 5-4 overtime win against Kansas City on Sunday.



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