It appears that judging by the first month of the season, the Odessa Jackalopes are ready to make a run in the South Division. They are powered by one of the best 1-2 offensive combinations in the league led by 19-year-old forward Kenny Hausinger. The native of Anchorage, Alaska, was on fire during the month of September as he helped the Jackalopes to a tie for 4th place in the South. Hausinger (5’10/190) is already committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Sacred Heart University, but he didn’t let that stop him from being the NAHL’s leading scorer during the month. In seven games played, Hausinger recorded a league-high 13 points and seven goals. Hausinger has registered at least a point in all seven of his games played to date and his first four games played were all multi-point games, including two, three point games. “Kenny is an old-time hockey guy. He is first to the puck, he competes real hard, he isn’t flashy, but he just finds a way to get the job done. He is a great passer and sees the ice very well. He makes everyone around him better,” said Odessa head coach Greg Gatto.
“I think it was important for us to get off to a decent start and we have done that. We came into camp early to prepare for this season and everyone has bought in to Coach Gatto’s philosophy,” said Hausinger. “Coming off a major injury, I kept the expectations low to start the season, but I was definitely pleased with how the month went. “We have solid goaltending, great depth at defense and some very talented guys at forward. We have bonded well and I am just trying to get better every game and contribute.”
Runner-Up: Brandon Schultz, Janesville Jets
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Jake Ahlgren, Wenatchee Wild – Austin Beaulieu, Wichita Falls Wildcats – Maurin Bouvet, Kenai River Brown Bears – Trevor Boyd, Austin Bruins – Tyler Cline, Minnesota Wilderness – Jacob Coleman, Keystone Ice Miners – Ronnie Hein, Aberdeen Wings – Josh Lammon, Springfield Jr. Blues – Adam Lovick, Coulee Region Chill – Christian Mohs, Minot Minotauros – Daniel Rzavsky, Topeka RoadRunners.
Second year veteran defenseman Tyler Andrews, 20, is taking his final year of junior hockey and making the most of it thus far. The 6’2/185 lbs. defenseman from Anchorage, Alaska, was so good during the first month of the season that he managed to lead his team in scoring… from the blueline. His nine points in eight games was not only a team-high, but also tops for all NAHL defensemen during the month. Andrews registered a point in six of the eight games played during September and had two multi-point games. Even though the Brown Bears were outscoring during the month 31-24, Andrews kept his plus/minus rating at even. Last year, Andrews recorded 16 points in 51 games played with Kenai River. “With our large amount of roster turnover, Tyler has been everything and more for us thus far. He is a true leader and is dedicated to the organization, his teammates and his playing career,” said Brown Bears head coach Geoff Beauparlant. “He leads by example and has bought into a lifestyle on and off the ice that is going to make him successful as a leader and as a hockey player. He goes about his business like a pro and is the ultimate competitor.”
“It is all about confidence for me. It was important to gain the experience from last year and turn it into something more this year. I have been working hard all year round to try and become a better player,” said Andrews. “We have some things we still want to accomplish has a team here. We want to get ourselves in a position to be successful in the playoffs and get an opportunity to compete for the Robertson Cup. After that, I am working hard towards a Division I opportunity and getting an education.”
Runner-Up: Cam Knight, Wichita Falls Wildcats
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Alex Archibald, Keystone Ice Miners – Dan Bailey, Wenatchee Wild – Tobias Bjorklund, Minnesota Wilderness – Jared Brandt, Minot Minotauros – Dan Brickley, Topeka RoadRunners – Cam Cooper, Coulee Region Chill – Lester Lancaster, Springfield Jr. Blues – Brendan Riordan, Aberdeen Wings – Alex Smith, Janesville Jets.
When he came to training camp back in August, Wichita Falls goaltender Austin Shaw, 18, probably thought that getting some major playing time was a long shot. The Wildcats had two veteran goalies back from the 2013-14 season and Shaw was the lone rookie goalie. However, like so many NAHL goalies before him, all he needed was a chance and his debut in the league could not have gone any better. The native of Highlands Ranch, Colorado, made his debut at the NAHL Showcase with a shutout and hasn’t looked back since. Shaw (6’4/200) won all four of his starts during the month and stopped 112 of 116 shots that came his way, good for a 1.00 goals against average and 96.6% save percentage in September. In his NAHL debut, he made 31 saves in a 4-0 shutout of the Minnesota Wilderness. He also was in goal for both wins over Toepka last weekend, as he allowed just two goals in the two wins. “Our goalies began the season knowing that it was going to be a battle and Austin took the opportunity and ran with it. He stepped up and seized the moment, so give him credit for that,” said Wildcats head coach John LaFontaine. “For a bigger goalie, Austin is very quick. He is also very poised and reads the play well. He is never taking himself out of a play because he is always conscious of being in the best position possible to try and make a save.”
“I knew coming in that going up against two veterans I was going to have to compete from Day 1. I just wanted to make the most of whatever opportunity was going to present itself. It happened to be in Blaine at the Showcase and my thought was just to try and make the most of it,” said Shaw. “I would like to keep working hard and play well and hopefully that turns into an opportunity to play NCAA Division I hockey down the road and get an education. I think we have a great team here in Wichita Falls and we are capable of doing some great things.”
Runner-Up: Matej Tomek, Topeka RoadRunners
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Ryan Anderson, Minnesota Wilderness – Alex Blankenburg, Keystone Ice Miners – Matt Jurusik, Janesville Jets – Jake Kielly, Austin Bruins – Dryden McKay, Springfield Jr. Blues – Forbes Ploszaj, Wenatchee Wild – Atte Tolvanen, Minot Minotauros.