The Minnesota Wilderness rolled through December without a regulation loss, posting a 5-0-2 record and not only did defensemen Ivan Chukarov, 191, record 9 points and a +13 rating in the seven games, but he also led the Wilderness in scoring during the month. On top of all that, Chukarov (6'3/200) announced his NCAA Division I commitment to UMass on December 17th, realizing his NCAA Division I dream like so many NAHL players. The native of Des Plaines, Illinois, racked up 3 goals and 6 assists during the month, which also included a game-winning goal. He registered at least a point in five of the seven games played during December. That included two three-point games in a 5-2 win over Kenai River on December 11th and a 8-2 win over the Soo Eagles on December 20th. For the season, Chukarov leads all Wilderness defensemen in scoring with 22 points in 29 games played and leads the club with a +19 rating. "ivan is as talented as any defensemen in the NAHL and he has come back from injury and really played well and consistent this season," said Wilderness head coach Corey Millen. "He brings so muchto the table for our team and he is effective at bothends of the ice. He is a great all-around defenseman with great size, who is going to be successful at the next level."
"I think we finally clicked as a team in December. We have a really good system in place and when it is working, we are a very tough team to beat like we were in December. We put the primary focus on limiting our opponents chances and shots," said Chukarov. "I think short team, I was very happy to commit to play NCAA Division I hockey at UMass becuase it has been a goal of mine for a long time. I think we have a team that is capable of winning the division and making a run at the Robertson Cup. I just want to keep improving so I can help the team have success and so I can go to UMass next season and make an immediate impact."
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