The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) today announced the Three Stars of the Week presented by Combat Hockey for the week ending November 25, 2012. The three stars of the week is an award given each week of the regular season to the top performing players in the NA3HL as nominated by their head coaches.
1st Star: Alex Nedeljkovic, goaltender, Metro Jets
The Jets have benefitted from having newly acquired goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic in the line-up during the month of November. The 16-year-old from Parma, Ohio, has come in and won all four of his starts including both this past week to get the Jets over the .500 mark for the first time since opening weekend. Nedeljkovic (6’0/186) was a 6th round draft pick of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers in the 2012 OHL Draft. He started the season with the Whalers in the OHL and played in two games. He was then sent to Metro in November to get some more experience. He has responded in kind by winning all four of his starts in the NA3HL, including a 3-1 win in Flint on Wednesday in which he made 33 saves, and another 33-save performance in a 6-2 over Michigan on Sunday. For the week, he stopped 66 of a combined 69 shots, good for a 95.6% save percentage. “The NA3HL is a great league to get him some shots and experience,” said Jets head coach Jason Cirone. “He is very talented and very calm and composed for being just 16 years old. He plays with a lot of confidence and our team has fed off that.”
2nd Star: Henry Smith, forward, Queen City Steam
In Queen City’s weekend split on the road in Peoria this past weekend, Steam forward Henry Smith, 19, came up big for his team. The native of Charleston, West Virginia, racked up five points (1 goal, 4 assists) and was a +4 over the weekend as the Steam played well on the road against a tough Peoria squad. On Saturday, Smith (5’10/175) assisted on the lone Queen City goal in a close 2-1 loss. On Sunday, Smith had the game-winning goal and three assists in a 5-3 win over the Mustangs. His 15 points to date ranks third on the team and his 11 assists is tied for the team lead. “We had a short bench this past weekend and Henry saw a lot of ice time,” said Steam head coach Lee Lansdowne. “We went 10 for 10 on our penalty kill and he was a major reason for that. Has the ability to do everything and works hard in all three zones. He has been a crucial part to our success.”
3rd Star: Ian Ecklund, forward, Alexandria Blizzard
The Alexandria Blizzard have won five of their last six games and the recent surge of success has been led by leading scorer Ian Ecklund. The native of Proctor, Minnesota, had another good weekend as the Blizzard picked up a win over Twin City and suffered a one-goal loss at Granite City. Ecklund, 19, had four points (2 goals, 2 assists) and was a +3 in the two games. On Wednesday, Ecklund scored Alexandria’s first goal in a close 4-3 loss at Granite City. On Friday, Ecklund had the game-winning goal and two assists in a 5-3 home win over the Twin City Steel. Ecklund (6’3/180) leads the Blizzard in scoring so far this season with 23 points in 18 games played. “Ian is a really raw talent. He shoots the puck and skates very well,” said Blizzard head coach Jeff Crouse. “The last month and half he has really started to figure things out. He is finding the back of the net and has taken on a leadership role.”
Honorable Mention (alphabetical order): John Bonta, forward, Queen City Steam – Aaron Davis, goaltender, North Iowa Bulls – Mike Gambino, forward, Metro Jets – Marshall Helton, forward, Michigan Mountain Cats – Connor Langfield, defenseman, North Iowa Bulls – Kade Morrison, forward, Michigan Mountain Cats – Dylan Nelson, defenseman, Minnesota Flying Aces – Drew Otto, forward, Granite City Lumberjacks – Jared Sprink, forward, Minnesota Flying Aces – Kegan Storjohann, forward, Twin City Steel – Aidan Verbeke, forward, Granite City Lumberjacks.