Photo credits: Russ Hons (Kawaguchi), Omaha Athletics (Ward)
Monthly and weekly conference awards were announced across the NCAA this week and, as usual, plenty of BCHL alums were honoured.
NCHC Player of the Month
Jordan Kawaguchi – Junior – University of North Dakota (Chilliwack Chiefs)
Kawaguchi continued his Hobey Baker-worthy campaign in January, leading the conference and ranking second nationally with 14 points in nine games, while leading North Dakota to a 6-2-1 record to start the new year. His 14 points were three more than any other NCHC player during the month, while his six goals tied for the conference lead and his eight assists tied for third in January. Kawaguchi registered a point in eight of nine games in the month, including five multi-point outings.
Kawaguchi, played four full seasons with Chilliwack from 2013 to 2017, notching 242 points in 215 regular-season games and another 82 in 55 playoff games. The Abbotsford, B.C. native finished second in league scoring in 2016-17 with 85 points in 55 games and was named a First-Team All-Star.
Atlantic Hockey Player of the Month
Matt Hoover – Senior – Canisius College (Nanaimo Clippers)
Hoover led Atlantic Hockey in scoring for the month with 13 points in nine games, helping lead Canisius to a 3-2-4 record and 17 conference points. He scored a league-leading seven goals and tallied six assists while finishing plus-3. Hoover had points in eight of nine games played and multiple points in four of them.
The Brantford, Ont. native finished seventh in league scoring in his only season with the Clippers in 2015-16 after tallying 81 points in 57 regular-season games. He also added another 11 points in 14 playoff games.
Atlantic Hockey Rookie of the Month
Brandon Koch – Freshman – Air Force Academy (Wenatchee Wild)
Koch was the top-scoring rookie and top-scoring defenseman in Atlantic Hockey in January. He had nine points on three goals and six assists, a plus-2 rating and registered five blocks in nine contests.
Koch played his lone BCHL season with the Wild last year and put up 38 points in 58 games to finish in the top-10 in defenceman scoring.
WCHA Forward of the Month
Darien Craighead – Senior – Northern Michigan University (Chilliwack Chiefs)
Craighead led the WCHA in scoring and was third nationally in January with 13 points on a league-high eight goals and five assists. The eight tallies also ranked number two in the NCAA for the opening month of 2020. With 1.44 points per game and 0.89 goals per game, the Surrey, B.C., native led the WCHA in both categories and ranked fourth in the nation in goals per game along with finishing fourth in the country in +/- at +10 for the month.
The 22-year-old played three seasons in the BCHL split between the Chiefs, the Cowichan Valley Capitals and the Langley Rivermen. He put up 138 points in 143 career regular-season games.
WCHA Rookie of the Month
AJ Vanderbeck – Freshman – Northern Michigan University (Wenatchee Wild)
Vanderbeck shared the WCHA rookie lead in points with nine on two goals and seven assists in January. The Monument, Colo., native joined the NMU squad at the beginning of the month and immediately paid dividends in the team’s attack, tallying a pair of power-play goals during the month and registering his first career game-winning goal in the Wildcats’ 4-2 win at Alaska on Jan. 25.
The 22-year-old played two years with the Wild from 2016 to 2018, compiling 128 points in 104 regular-season games. In his final year with the Wild, he captained the team to their first-ever Fred Page Cup title.
Hockey East Player of the Week
Jonny Evans – Sophomore – University of Connecticut (Powell River Kings)
Evans had a six-point weekend as the Huskies swept New Hampshire by matching 7-4 scores. On Friday in New Hampshire, Evans had a career-high five points, recording a hat trick and adding two assists. Evans became the only player in the NCAA with two hat tricks on the season in the process. On Saturday, he had an assist in the UConn 7-4 win over UNH.
Evans played four-plus seasons for Powell River from 2013 to 2018, dressing in 194 regular-season games and putting up 190 points, while notching another 25 points in 31 postseason games. His best season came in 2016-17 when he finished fifth in league scoring with 78 points and tied for fourth with 36 goals.
NCHC Forward of the Week
Taylor Ward – Sophomore – University of Nebraska-Omaha (Penticton Vees)
Ward recorded a five-point weekend at home to power Omaha to a split with Western Michigan, including his first-career hat trick and a career-high in points. In Friday’s series opener, he handed out the primary assist on Omaha’s second goal, which came on the power play, in an eventual 5-2 loss. He also blocked two shots in the loss. The next night, Ward recorded a career-high four points in a 4-2 victory as he had a hand in all four goals in the win.
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.
Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week
Austin McIlmurray – Senior – Sacred Heart University (Coquitlam Express)
McIlmurray had an impressive five-point week, racking up four goals and one assist. He tallied his first-career hat trick at Air Force on Friday, which propelled the Pioneers to a 5-4 overtime victory. The following day he scored his 12th power-play goal of the year, which aided Sacred Heart in completing the two-game sweep of the Falcons with a dominating 5-2 win.
McIlmurray, 23, played the 2015-16 season in Coquitlam and had 61 points in 57 games.
WCHA Forward of the Week
Darien Craighead – Senior – Northern Michigan University (Chilliwack Chiefs)
Craighead scored his second-career hat trick in the Wildcats’ 5-2 win over Ferris State Friday evening, extending his point streak to three games and concluding the month of January with 13 points scored over the nine-game stretch. The Surrey, B.C., native peppered the Bulldogs net on Saturday night and finished the weekend with six shots on goal and a +3 rating. His three goals led the league and also tied for the third-most nationally on the weekend. This is his second career WCHA weekly honor, the first coming a week ago.
WCHA Goalie of the Week
Zach Driscoll – Junior – Bemidji State University (Penticton Vees)
Driscoll turned aside 56 of the 59 shots he faced, helping BSU to a WCHA series sweep over Bowling Green. Following a 29-save performance in Friday’s 4-1 victory, the Apple Valley, Minn., native made 27 saves to extend the Beavers winning streak to three games and give BSU its 10th home victory of the season. He finished the weekend 2-0-0 with a 1.50 goals-against average and .949 save percentage to lead the league in goals-against average and rank second in save percentage. This is his fifth WCHA weekly honor and his second this season.
The 22-year-old played the 2015-16 season in Penticton and led the BCHL in both save percentage (.933) and goals-against average (1.90), while recording five shutouts and finishing the year with a record of 21-4-0. His save percentage from that season is tied for the third-best mark all-time for a single season, while his goals-against average is the sixth-lowest in BCHL history.
A handful of freshmen alums also picked up their first goals in the NCAA since the last time we recapped.
- Alec Capstick – Miami (Langley Rivermen) – Jan. 31 vs. St. Cloud
- Ryan Nolan – Merrimack (Victoria Grizzlies) – Jan. 24 vs. Vermont
- Chad Sasaki – Colorado College (Wenatchee Wild) – Jan. 24 vs. Omaha
- Lucas Vanroboys – Bentley (Prince George Spruce Kings) – Jan. 24 vs. Mercyhurst