The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) today announced the Divisional Stars of the Week presented by Easton for the week ending February 16, 2014. The divisional stars of the week is an award given each week of the regular season to the top performing players in each of the four divisions of the NA3HL as nominated by their head coaches.
Central Division Star of the Week: Tyler Opilka, defenseman, St. Louis Jr. Blues
St. Louis defenseman Tyler Opilka returned to the line-up and had an immediate impact on St. Louis’ road sweep in Cincinnati to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Central Division. The 18-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri, returned from a broken leg to record four points in the weekend series and was also a +5. On Friday night, Opilka (6’0/187) had three assists in his season debut in a 5-2 win. On Saturday, Opilka picked up another assist in a 4-3 win. One of his assists on Friday was on the game-winning goal. “Tyler came back from a broken leg and he really hasn’t missed a beat. He gave the team a big lift and was solid as ever,” said Jr. Blues head coach Chris Flaugher.
2nd Star: Tim Tarvis, F, Wisconsin Whalers
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Nathan Chiarizzio, F, Cincinnati Swords – Cooper Cothran, G, St. Louis Jr. Blues – Easton Halbert, F, Wisconsin Whalers
East Division Star of the Week: Jared Johnson, forward, Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks
With a weekend sweep over the Michigan Mountain Cats, the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks clinched the third playoff spot in the East Division and forward Jared Johnson, 19, made a big impact. The native of Hartland, Wisconsin had six points in the two wins. On Saturday, Johnson (5’9/180) had a goal and assisted on two others in a 5-3 win. On Sunday, Johnson picked up three assists, including on the game-winning goal, in a 5-1 win. Johnson, who leads the Jr. Lumberjacks in scoring this season with 69 points, also was a +3 during the weekend. “Jared been our offensive leader all season. He and his line mates, Nick Balavich and Stefan Horgas have been consistent since this they started playing together. With our other lines also contributing offensively this will be a positive for the team down the stretch and into the playoffs,” said Lumberjacks head coach Bob Jacobson.
2nd Star: Anders Franke, G, Flint Junior Generals
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Avery Huibregtse, D, Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks – Jason Kumpfmiller, G, Pittsburgh Vengeance – Brett Leppek, F, Flint Junior Generals – Joe Lopez, G, Michigan Mountain Cats – Max Vance, F, Michigan Mountain Cats
South Division Star of the Week: Tommy Malkmus, F, Topeka Capitals
It was quite the debut for Topeka forward Tommy Malkmus, 20. The forward from Bismarck, North Dakota recorded 11 points in his first three games with the Capitals this past weekend in a three-game sweep of the Sugar Land Imperials. On Thursday, Malkmus (5’10/180) had a goal and two assists in a 7-3 win. On Friday, Malkmus had a goal and an assist in an 8-3 win. On Friday, he saved his best game for last with four goals, including the game-winner, and two assists in an 11-2 win. Malkmus was also +7 on the weekend. "Tommy has just join our club and is a welcomed addition. He stepped right in and fit in well with our concepts and philosophy. Getting a player of tommy quality is only going to improve our chances for the stretch run,” said Capitals head coach Anthony Bohn.
2nd Star: Hardijs Kupaks, F, Topeka Capitals
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): Aksel Campbell, F, Sugar Land Imperials – Christopher Otap, G, Sugar Land Imperials
West Division Star of the Week: Ian Ecklund, forward, Alexandria Blizzard
Alexandria leading scorer Ian Ecklund added to his impressive offensive totals this season as he had a five point weekend in two weekend wins over Twin City and Breezy Point. The 20-year-old native of Proctor, Minnesota started the weekend with a two-goal performance in a 6-4 win on Friday at Twin City. On Saturday, Ecklund (6’3/180) had three assists in a 5-0 shutout at Breezy Point. In 38 games this season with the Blizzard, Ecklund has recorded 73 points, which leads the team. “Ian has really picked up his game as of late using his size and speed and creating scoring chances for his line. I look for him to continue his hot streak into the playoffs,” said Blizzard head coach Jeff Crouse.
2nd Star: Nick Haase, F, Granite City Lumberjacks
Honorable Mention (alphabetical): David Kenney, F, Granite City Lumberjacks