NAHL announces monthly player awards for October 2019
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of October. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Connor Szmul from the Chippewa Steel. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month is Sam Brennan from the Lone Star Brahmas. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Andrew Miller from the Bismarck Bobcats. Only players who are nominated by their respective teams are considered for the NAHL monthly awards.
Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month: Connor Szmul, Chippewa Steel
The month of October was a great one for the Chippewa Steel and forward Connor Szmul. The third-year, 20-year-old veteran forward posted 12 points in just six games during the month as the Steel went undefeated in the month of October. The 5’8/155 lbs. native of Castle Rock, Colorado, had at least a point in all six games and recorded seven goals and five assists during the month. The included five assists in an 8-2 win over the Kenai River Brown Bears on October 4th, and multi-point games in wins over Springfield on October 11th and Janesville on October 26th. For the season, Szmul leads the Steel in scoring with 18 points (10 goals, 8 assists) in 14 games played. “Connor has been very consistent. He plays a lot of minutes for us every night and in all different situations. His success so far this season is a credit to the hard work and dedication he put forth in the off-season. The buy-in that he has showed and the attention to detail in all aspects of the game have taken his game to the next level. He puts in the work daily and has earned everything he's gotten so far,” said Steel head coach Carter Foguth.
“I think it has really helped us to have a veteran group to begin the season and we have had a lot of confidence since the start of the season, which has allowed us to win hockey games,” said Szmul. “I made an emphasis to work really hard in the off-season. Knowing that this is my final year of junior hockey, I pushed myself as hard as I could to get ready for it and am continuing to do so during the season. I want to make the most of this season and try and get better every day. Ultimately, I am just hoping to help my team win a Robertson Cup and hopefully make an NCAA Division 1 commitment.”
Runner-Up: Lincoln Hatten, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Nik Armstrong-Kingkade, Minot Minotauros – Ryan Coughlin, Corpus Christi IceRays – Noah Finstrom, Jamestown Rebels – Cannon Green, Maine Nordiques – Matt Guerra, Lone Star Brahmas – Nate Norn, Minnesota Wilderness – Grant Johnson, Bismarck Bobcats – Jack Johnston, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Max Kouznetsov, Johnstown Tomahawks – Hugh Larkin, Austin Bruins – Joe Mancuso, Northeast Generals – Riley Murphy, Aberdeen Wings – Nick Nardella, Janesville Jets – Marko Reifenberger, Minnesota Magicians – Theo Thrun, Kenai River Brown Bears – Conor Witherspoon, Shreveport Mudbugs
Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month: Sam Brennan, Lone Star Brahmas
Lone Star Brahmas defenseman Sam Brennan, 19, is the second Brahmas defenseman in as many months to earn Defenseman of the Month honors after teammate Matt Rickard earned it in September. The 6’0/181 lbs. native of Brighton, Michigan, had eight points in 10 games during the month as the Brahmas continued to be among the South Division leaders. Brennan, who is committed to play NCAA Division 1 hockey at Air Force, had at least a point in six of the 10 outings, which included four goals and four assists to go along with a +2 rating. “Sam has really made some big strides in his offensive game this season, which is now complimenting his already strong defensive ability,” said Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong. “He has worked hard on and off the ice to become a better player and leader and it is paying off for him this season.”
“I have gotten into more of a consistent schedule and really put a focus on having a good routine every day. In a league like the NAHL, you have to come to play every day, be it practice or games. It has given me a lot more confidence on the ice, especially when it comes to handling the puck and trying to create some offense. We have a great veteran group of players and it has allowed me to become a better player and take some more chances, knowing I have guys there to back me up,” said Brennan.
Runner-Up: Michael Heneghan, Northeast Generals
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Dylan Abbott, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Nico Appendino, Bismarck Bobcats – Nate Clark, Jamestown Rebels – Ryan Dickinson, Shreveport Mudbugs – Kyle Gudme, Corpus Christi IceRays – Liam Haslam, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights - Grant Hindman, Janesville Jets – Kimball Johnson, Minnesota Wilderness – Robert McCollum, Kenai River Brown Bears – Spencer Oyler, Chippewa Steel - Jed Pietila, Austin Bruins – Jack Powell, Aberdeen Wings – Ethan Prout, Maine Nordiques – Luc Salem, Topeka Pilots – Sam Skinner, Minot Minotauros – Gordon Whalen, Minnesota Magicians
Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month: Andrew Miller, Bismarck Bobcats
Bismarck Bobcats goaltender Andrew Miller, 19, is having an incredible start to his rookie season in the NAHL. The 5’11/183 lbs. native of Boulder, Colorado, and NAPHL grad had an October to remember as he earned the league’s Goaltender of the Month honor. While Miller started in just three games during the month, he was nearly perfect, as he went 3-0 and allowed just one goal on 84 total shots. That included his first NAHL shutout, which was a 24-save effort in a 2-0 win over the St. Cloud Blizzard on October 5th, which was then followed by a 40-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the Austin Bruins on October 19th. In his final game of the month, Miller made 19 saves in a 5-1 win over the Blizzard on October 26th. Miller is currently the NAHL’s #1-ranked goalie statistically as he leads the league with a .99 goals against average and a .958 save percentage. Miller is another great example of a NAPHL to NAHL ladder of development success story as prior to this season he played four years in the NAPHL for the Rocky Mountain RoudRiders, which included appearances in the 2018 NAPHL 18U All-Star Game and 2018 NAHL 18U Top Prospects Tournament. “Andrew has done a tremendous job for us this year. Goaltending was one of our main focuses this year with losing Johnny Roberts. Andrew is technically sound and square to pucks, his ability to track pucks and his eye hand are at the forefront of his game and that is going to make him a big time goaltender at the NCAA level,” said Bobcats head coach Layne Sedevie.
“We have a great group of experienced and veteran players here in Bismarck. I think it gave me a lot of confidence from the start to really have everyone in our lockeroom supporting me. Even if I do make a mistake, I know my teammates have my back and I know they are out there doing everything they can to make my job easier like blocking shots and playing at both ends of the ice,” said Miller. “Playing in the NAPHL really prepared me for his moment in the NAHL. You have seen who has come up before me through the NAPHL to the NAHL and onto the NCAA and the list just keeps getting longer and longer. The NAPHL was a great and competitive league because you know you are playing against some of the top teams in the country at every event. You are going to get seen and scouted. I think my focus now is trying to help the team win a Robertson Cup and keep improving to the point where I am good enough to earn an NCAA Division 1 commitment.”
Runner-Up: Cal Sandquist, Corpus Christi IceRays
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Connor Androlewicz, Maine Nordqiues – Trent Burnham, Chippewa Steel – Jakub Dobes, Topeka Pilots – Ben Garrity, Minot Minotauros – Jon Howe, Jamestown Rebels – Kaleb Johnson, Minnesota Wilderness – Richie Parent, Shreveport Mudbugs – Landon Pavlisin, Kenai River Brown Bears – Ludvig Persson, Lone Star Brahmas – Patrick Pugliese, New Jersey Titans – Grant Riley, Janesville Jets – Mattias Sholl, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Joey Stanizzi, Northeast Generals – Zach Stejskal, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights – David Tomeo, Johnstown Tomahawks – Samuel Vyletelka, Minnesota Magicians – Henry Welsch, Aberdeen Wings