The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of December. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the month is Ondrej Trejbal, from the Minnesota Wilderness. The Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month is Austin Jouppi, from the Bismarck Bobcats. The Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month is Matt Vernon from the Aberdeen Wings.
Defenseman of the Month: ONDREJ TREJBAL – Minnesota Wilderness
Minnesota Wilderness defenseman Ondrej Trejbal, 19, did himself one better from the month of November to the month of December as he went from Runner-Up for Defenseman of the Month to the winner of the award. The 6’3/190 lbs. native of Nove Mesto, Czech Republic, led all NAHL defenseman with 11 points during the month of December, which included three goals and eight assists to go along with a very nice +9 rating. Trejbal had three multi-point games as the Wilderness kept pace in the Central Division playoff race. Trejbal is currently 2nd among all NAHL defensemen in scoring this season with 28 points in 31 games played. “Ondrej is one of the most talented players to ever play for the Wilderness organization. He has been on quite a roll this past month and we are excited to see how high he can elevate his game moving forward,” said Wilderness Head Coach and GM Dave Boitz.
“I think we have a good team here with the Wilderness. I have really worked hard to improve my speed and skill and I think that has paid off this season. I think I learned a lot last year with the team and in the Top Prospects Tournament, so that I am much more aware of what it takes to be successful in a league like the NAHL. I am hopeful that after graduation, I can play NCAA Division I hockey and help the Wilderness get into the playoffs for a chance to win a Robertson Cup,” said Trejbal.
Runner-Up: Ryan Rowland, Northeast Generals
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): JJ Boucher, Kenai River Brown Bears – Sean Driscoll, Janesville Jets – Anthony Firriolo, Corpus Christi IceRays – Andrew Kruse, Minnesota Magicians – Jack Olsen, Bismarck Bobcats –CJ Regula, Shreveport Mudbugs – John Stampohar, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Dalton Weigel, Aberdeen Wings – Alex Wilkins, Johnstown Tomahawks
Forward of the Month: AUSTIN JOUPPI – Bismarck Bobcats
It was a big month for Bismarck Bobcats rookie forward Austin Jouppi. The 18-year-old native of Duluth, Minnesota, was among the NAHL scoring leaders in December with 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) and a +7 rating in eight games during the month. Jouppi (5’8/170) recorded at least a points in all eight games played during December and had three-multi point games. He is currently riding an 11-game point streak dating back to November 23rd where he has recorded 21 points in that time span. Jouppi currently leads the Bobcats in scoring this season with 27 points in 27 games played. “Austin is a 200-foot player with very good skill, and his work ethic and character are at the forefront of his game. His skill set and ability to make plays along with his other tangibles to block shots and play a complete game are the reasons he’s going to be a really good at the next level,” said Bismarck head coach Layne Sedevie.
“I think once I got used to the pace of the game in the NAHL compared to what I was used to playing high school hockey has been the biggest difference in my game lately. I think with that has come confidence as a player and things have progressed from there,” said Jouppi. “I want to be a complete player and have a good plus/minus rating. Beyond that I would really like an opportunity to play NCAA Division I hockey. I think we have a team here in Bismarck that can make the playoffs and compete for a Robertson Cup, but we just have to be a little more consistent and try and string some wins together and not be satisfied with just splitting series.”
Runner-Up: Santeri Hartikainen, Corpus Christi IceRays
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Louis Boudon, Northeast Generals – Parker Brown, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Jay Feiwell, Shreveport Mudbugs – Cameron Hebert, Johnstown Tomahawks – Dylan Johnson, Minnesota Wilderness – John Keranen, Minnesota Magicians – Alex Klekotka, Kenai River Brown Bears – Luke Mountain, Maryland Black Bears – Brenden Olson, Janesville Jets – Joe Strada, Aberdeen Wings
Goalie of the Month:MATT VERNON – Aberdeen Wings
It was a perfect month for the Aberdeen Wings and goaltender Matt Vernon. The 20-year-old native of San Jose, California, posted a 6-0-0 record during the month as he helped the Wings increase their lead atop the Central Division with a perfect 8-0 record in December. Vernon (5’10/170) allowed just six goals in six games during the month, which included 173 saves on 179 total shots, good for a 1.00 goals against average and a .966 save percentage. He also had two shutouts in December, a 29-save shutout against the Minnesota Wilderness on December 7th and a 33-save shutout against the Minot Minotauros on December 13th. For the season, leads all NAHL goalies in wins with 19, ranks 3rd in save percentage with a .933 mark, and 8th in goals against average at 2.15. “Matt came into this season a very determined player. His preparation and work ethic are at a very high level. Matt is the ultimate teammate, as well as, true leader on and off the ice. His past month of play is a product of his determination to achieve his long-term hockey goals,” said Aberdeen head coach Scott Langer.
“I think a big part of our team’s success lately has been attention to details in areas like the penalty kill and blocking shots that has really tightened things up defensively and given the goaltenders even more confidence playing for our guys. I think when we can keep scores low and win games, everyone feels good about what is going on,” said Vernon. “I think I’ve learned to make sure I am doing the simple day-to-day things in order to grow and remain successful in this league. Things like eating the right kind of diet, staying hydrated, putting in the work off the ice, having good practices, paying attention to details… all that weighs into the performance in the game and having a good year. We are excited because we have a team that can win the division and compete for a Robertson Cup. I think personally I just want to keep winning games. I wanted to get to 30 wins this season and after the first half of the season, I think 35+ wins may be possible.”
Runner-Up: Ryan Keane, Jamestown Rebels
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Sam Best, Corpus Christi IceRays – Cole Brady, Janesville Jets – Leo Chuard, Shreveport Mudbugs – Gavin Enright, Kenai River Brown Bears – Nate Reid, Fairbanks Ice Dogs – Jack Robbel, Minnesota Magicians –John Roberts, Bismarck Bobcats