NCAA Roundup: 5 alums head into Christmas break with conference awards

Photo credits: Ed Mailliard (Briere), Rob Rasmussen (Metsa), Omaha Athletics (Ward), SPX/Minnesota State Athletics (Hirose)

We head into the Christmas break with another NCAA Roundup packed full of BCHL alums being recognized for their high level of play. This week, we highlight five players who earned weekly conference awards.

ECAC 1st Star of the Week

Zach Metsa – Junior – Quinnipiac University (Merritt Centennials)

Metsa recorded seven points for Quinnipiac this week, finding his name on the score sheet in each of the team’s four games. His biggest performance came in Monday’s season-opener when he scored once and added three assists in a 9-2 win over Sacred Heart. The junior defenseman was also outstanding on the backcheck, blocking seven shots over the course of the week.

Metsa played one season in Merritt in 2016-17 and led all Centennials defencemen in scoring with 27 points in 57 games.

NCHC Forward of the Week

Taylor Ward – Junior – University of Nebraska-Omaha (Penticton Vees)

Ward tied for the conference scoring lead during the final week of the NCHC Pod with five points. He opened the week by scoring the game-tying goal against Minnesota Duluth on Dec. 16. He followed that up with two goals and two assists to lead the Mavericks to a 6-5 come-from-behind win over Western Michigan on Friday. Ward finished the week with three goals, two assists and a +1 rating, while firing 10 shots on goal.

The Kelowna, B.C. native spent three seasons in Penticton from 2015 to 2018, totaling 77 points in 162 regular-season games and winning a Fred page Cup in 2016-17.

WCHA Goaltender of the Week

Zach Rose – Sophomore – Bowling Green State University (Victoria Grizzlies)

Rose started the first game of the Falcons’ road series against Quinnipiac and the Paradise, N.L., native stopped a season-high 23 shots in 60 minutes of play, including multiple difficult saves in the third period to lead the Falcons to a 4-1 win over the Bobcats. The win moved Rose’s season record to 3-1-0.

The 21-year-old played two years with the Grizzlies from 2017 to 2019, finishing his BCHL career with a .915 save percentage. During that time, he also suited up for Canada West at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge, leading them to a gold medal and ending the tournament with a 1.59 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage in five contests.

WCHA Rookie of the Week

Akito Hirose – Freshman – Minnesota State University (Salmon Arm Silverbacks)

Hirose tallied two assists in Minnesota State’s 5-4 win over visiting Bemidji State on Friday to lead all WCHA rookies in points and assists on the weekend. The Calgary, Alta. native finished his week with six shots on goal, two blocked shots and a +1 rating.

Hirose played four seasons in the BCHL, all with the Silverbacks, suiting up for a total of 208 regular-season games for the team. Last year, he led all defencemen in scoring with 51 points in 57 games and was named the league’s Top Defenceman at year’s end.

Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Week

Carson Briere – Freshman – Mercyhurst University (Trail Smoke Eaters)

Briere tied for the Atlantic Hockey lead in scoring with five points in Mercyhurst’s weekend set against Niagara, recording three goals and two assists over the two games. He had one goal on Wednesday and scored another in the shootout in the Lakers 4-3 extra time win. Briere then had two goals and two assists on Friday as Mercyhurst skated to a 7-4 victory.

The son of longtime NHLer Daniel Briere, Carson joined the Smoke Eaters midseason in 2019-20 and finished his lone BCHL campaign with 12 points in 24 games.