NCAA Roundup: October Recap

It was a successful month for many BCHL alumni now plying their trade for NCAA Division I schools. Several former players from the league earned weekly and monthly awards due to their strong play on the ice. We recap it all below.

National Collegiate Hockey Conference

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

  • Player of the Week (Nov. 1)
  • Player of the Month (October)
  • Hockey Commissioners Association Player of the Month (October)

Ward tallied a point in all eight games Omaha played in October, leading the Mavericks to a 7-1-0 record. The assistant captain scored an NCAA-best 10 goals in the month and totaled 16 points, which leads the NCHC and ties for second nationally. Eight of his 10 goals came on the power play, including one game-winner, while he also dished out six assists. Ward averaged 2.00 points per game in October, which tied for the NCAA lead among players with more than two games played.

The son of former NHL player Dixon Ward, Taylor played three seasons for the Penticton Vees from 2015 to 2018, putting up 77 points in 162 games along the way.

Massimo Rizzo (F) – Freshman – University of Denver (Penticton/Coquitlam/Chilliwack)

  • Co-Rookie of the Week (Oct. 11)
  • Rookie of the Month (October)

Rizzo started his NCAA career on fire, tallying eight points in Denver’s six October games, tying for the NCHC rookie lead. He recorded four multi-point games and two multi-goal games, averaging 1.33 points per game, again tops among NCHC freshmen and second among all NCAA rookies. Rizzo racked up five goals, which leads all NCHC freshmen and tied for first among all college freshmen. He also dished out three assists and went 32-24 in the faceoff circle (57.1 per cent) in October.

The 20-year-old from Burnaby, B.C. started his BCHL career with the Penticton Vees where he played for two years. He moved on to the Coquitlam Express the following season and joined the Chilliwack Chiefs during his final year, but missed the pod season due to injury. He notched 123 points in 132 games over his career in the league.

Brett Chorske (F) – Freshman – Colorado College (Wenatchee Wild)

  • Rookie of the Week (Nov. 1)

After not dressing for Colorado’s first seven games of the season, Chorske made the most of his collegiate debut, tallying the first two points of his career to help lead the Tigers to a win over rival Air Force on Saturday. Chorske scored his first collegiate goal on the power play late in the second period to make it a 5-0 game, before tallying his first assist on CC’s seventh goal in an 8-1 win.

Chorske played the 2018-19 campaign with the Wenatchee Wild, finishing in a tie for second in team scoring with 39 points in 58 games. He is the son of former NHLer Tom Chorske.

Atlantic Hockey

Carson Brière (F) – Sophomore – Mercyhurst University (Trail Smoke Eaters)

  • Player of the Week (Oct. 18)
  • Player of the Month (October)

Coming off his freshman year where he was named to the Atlantic Hockey 2nd-Team All-Conference as well as the All-Rookie Team, Brière picked up where he left off, piling up nine points in seven games through the first month of his sophomore season.

The 22-year-old joined the Trail Smoke Eaters midway through the 2019-20 season and contributed 12 points in 24 games down the stretch.

Carter Wilkie (F) – Freshman – Rochester Institute of Technology (Chilliwack/West Kelowna)

  • Rookie of the Week (Oct. 11, Oct. 25 and Nov. 1)
  • Rookie of the Month (October)

Wilkie was on fire to start his college career, earning conference Rookie of the Week in the first week of play and then again two more times later in the month. Naturally, he was also named the conference’s Rookie of the Month for October. He put up four goals and two assists for six points in his first eight games this season.

The Calgary, Alta. native played three seasons in the BCHL, split between the Chilliwack Chiefs and West Kelowna Warriors. Over his career, he notched 87 points in 127 games.

Kolby Matthews (G) – Junior – Rochester Institute of Technology (Coquitlam Express)

  • Goaltender of the Week (Oct. 11 and Nov. 1)

Matthews won the conference’s Goaltender of the Week award twice in the month of October. He wraps up the first month of his junior season with a record of 4-0-2, a .938 save percentage and a 1.94 goals-against average, putting him in second in the conference in both categories.

Matthews played the 2018-19 season with the Coquitlam Express where he went 14-16-2 in 34 appearances.

Willie Reim (F) – Junior – Air Force Academy (West Kelowna Warriors)

  • Player of the Week (Oct. 11)

Reim posted a career-high three points on a goal and two assists in the Falcons’ win at Michigan State on opening weekend. The North Oaks, Minn., native was involved in all three goals in Air Force’s 3-2 overtime win to open the series. He posted assists on the first two goals of the evening before netting the game-winner in overtime. The goal was his fifth career game-winner and third OT goal of his career. Reim also added an assist on the Falcon’s lone goal on Saturday and won 11 faceoffs over the two games.

Reim played two seasons with the West Kelowna Warriors from 2017 to 2019. He finished in the top-20 in league scoring his final year when he notched 58 points in 57 games.

Drew Bavaro (D) – Sophomore – Bentley University (Wenatchee Wild)

  • Defensive Player of the Week (Oct. 25)

Bavaro had a goal in each game of the Falcons’ home-and-home series against Holy Cross that weekend. In a 4-2 road win, the Bradenton, Fla., native scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal 46 seconds into the second period to break a 2-2 tie. At home that Saturday, Bavaro netted a power play goal at 3:26 of the second period.

The 6-foot-3, 194-pound defenceman played the 2019-20 season with the Wenatchee Wild and led the team in points from the blueline with 33 in 51 games.

Hunter Sansbury (D) – Freshman – Sacred Heart University (Salmon Arm Silverbacks)

  • Rookie of the Week (Oct. 18)

Sansbury tallied five blocked shots and four shots on goal in the Pioneer’s two-game series at Boston University. The Lomita, Calif., native led the Pioneers in blocked shots that weekend. On the year, he has one assist in seven games.

The 21-year-old spent two seasons with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, totaling 37 points in 74 career games.

ECAC Hockey

Zach Metsa (D) – Senior – Quinnipiac University (Merritt Centennials)

  • Player of the Month (October)

Metsa averaged a point-per game in October, helping the Bobcats to a 5-1-2 record, which included four games against nationally-ranked opponents. The senior had three multi-point outings, including a three-assist night in a 5-2 win over North Dakota. He played a part in both goals in the final game of the month, a 2-1 win over AIC. The blueliner was also outstanding defensively, boasting a +10 on-ice rating in the month.

Metsa suited up for the Merritt Centennials in 2016-17 and had 27 points in 57 games.

Skyler Brind’Amour (F) – Junior – Quinnipiac University (Chilliwack Chiefs)

  • Player of the Week (Oct. 11)

Brind’Amour recorded three points in the opening weekend Icebreaker Tournament. In tournament’s first game, a 2-2 tie against Boston College, he assisted on the first tally before scoring the game-tying goal in the third. He added an assist the next game in a win over Northeastern, and as a result was named to the 2021 Icebreaker All-Tournament Team.

The son of Stanley Cup champion and current Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour, Skyler spent two years with the Chilliwack Chiefs from 2017 to 2019 and won a National Championship with the Chiefs in 2018.

Linden Marshall (G) – Senior – Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Trail Smoke Eaters)

  • Goalie of the Week (Oct. 25)

Marshall sent aside 28 of the 29 shots he faced at the University of Vermont that weekend. He was tested early the contest, facing 14 shots in the opening frame, all of which he turned away. He was less than 30 seconds from his second career shutout before Vermont score an extra attacker goal late in the 2-1 win for the Engineers.

The 23-year-old from Victoria, B.C. played with the Trail Smoke Eaters for two seasons from 2015 to 2017, suiting up for 49 games and posting a record of 20-15-0.

Hockey East

Nick Poisson (F) – Sophomore – Providence College (Prince George Spruce Kings)

  • Player of the Week (Oct. 26)

Poisson recorded a hat trick and an assist, all in the third period, during Providence’s 6-5 come-from-behind victory over previously undefeated Denver that weekend. After the first month of play, he has 10 points in nine games.

Poisson played two seasons with the Prince George Spruce Kings from 2018 to 2020. He was a key part of their 2019 Fred Page Cup championship team that went all the way to the finals of the National Championship tournament.

Max Newton (F) – Graduate – Merrimack College (Trail/Cowichan Valley)

  • Player of the Week (Oct. 19)

Newton had a massive week at Colgate to pace the Warrior offense with four points. He scored the team’s lone goal in their opener, then added two more tallies and an assist the following night, including the game-winning goal, to complete a 5-3 comeback road win.

The 23-year-old played two seasons with the Trail Smoke Eaters and one with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Over his three-year BCHL career, he had 123 points in 153 games.

Matt Crasa (F) – Freshman – UMass-Lowell (Cowichan Valley Capitals)

  • Player of the Week (Oct. 5)

Crasa led the River Hawks on opening weekend with four points (3G, 1A) in a road split at Arizona State. In UMass Lowell’s season opener, the freshman tallied his first collegiate goal to help get the River Hawks on the board against the Sun Devils. Later that weekend, Crasa continued his scoring run, leading the team to a 4-2 victory with a pair of goals and an assist.

The 20-year-old New York native played the 2019-20 campaign with the Cowichan Valley Capitals and led the team in goals with 25. He also finished third in team scoring with 44 points in 51 games.

Darion Hanson (G) – Graduate – University of Connecticut (Vernon Vipers)

  • Goaltender of the Week (Oct. 12)

Hanson got his first Hockey East win of the season that week, making 29 saves in a 5-1 road victory, keeping Boston University off the scoreboard in the second and third periods. Over two games of work, Hanson stopped 72 of 75 shots faced. The night before, in a  loss, the graduate student stopped a season-high 43 of 45 shots.

Hanson played the 2016-17 campaign with the Vernon Vipers, joining the team midseason. In 21 games after joining the club, he posted a 14-4-0 record, a .945 save percentage and a 1.84 goals-against average with two shutous.

Cody Monds (F) – Freshman – Providence College (Victoria Grizzlies)

  • Rookie of the Week (Oct. 12)

Monds recorded three points across two victories for the Friars that week as the Providence offense exploded for 10 goals. The freshman notched the game-winning goal and added an assist in Providence’s 5-2 win over Merrimack to open the 2021-22 Hockey East league schedule before adding an assist the next night in a 5-1 win at AIC.

Monds played for the Victoria Grizzlies in 2019-20 and finished in a tie for 11th in league scoring and tops on his team with 59 points in 57 games played.

Big Ten

Kevin Wall (F) – Junior – Penn State University (Chilliwack Chiefs)

  • 1st Star of the Week (Oct. 26)

Wall led the Big Ten that week with five goals over the weekend in a sweep over Niagara University. He opened the scoring for Penn Sate in the first game of the week, netting the eventual game-winner, before adding a second tally in a 4-0 victory. The next night, he registered his first-career hat trick during a 6-2 win to complete the sweep.

The 2019 sixth-round draft pick of the Carolina Hurricanes played the 2018-19 season with the Chilliwack Chiefs where he finished eighth in league scoring and was named to both the 1st-Team All-Star squad and the All-Rookie team.

Jack LaFontaine (G) – Graduate – University of Minnesota (Penticton Vees)

  • 2nd Star of the Week (Nov. 1)

LaFontaine backstopped the Gophers to a weekend sweep of Notre Dame to start the Big Ten season 2-0. He turned aside 28 shots in Friday’s 4-1 win and followed up with 26 saves in Saturday’s 3-2 victory. The 2021 Mike Richter Award winner finished the series with a save percentage of .947 and a 1.50 goals-against average. This is his fifth career Big Ten weekly award.

The 23-year-old Carolina Hurricanes draft pick played the 2018-19 season with the Penticton Vees after transferred from the University of Michigan. In 45 games with the Vees, he went 30-13-1 and posted a .923 save percentage, a 2.19 goals-against average and three shutouts.

Matthew Galajda (G) – Senior – University of Notre Dame (Victoria Grizzlies)

  • 3rd Star of the Week (Oct. 26)

Galajda stopped all 22 shots he faced to backstop the Irish to a 6-0 shutout victory over RIT on Oct. 22. He turned aside 12 shots in the second period and five in the third to preserve the shutout and helped Notre Dame go 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. After transferring from Cornell University, this was his first shutout with the Fighting Irish and the 20th of his career.

Galajda played for the Victoria Grizzlies for two seasons from 2015 to 2017, finishing his BCHL career with a .918 save percentage, a 2.52 goals-against average and seven shutouts in 83 appearances.

CCHA

Akito Hirose (D) – Sophomore – Minnesota State University (Salmon Arm Silverbacks)

  • Defenceman of the Week (Nov. 1)

The reigning WCHA Rookie of the Year recorded a four-point weekend and was plus-4 as Minnesota State opened CCHA action last weekend with a two-game home sweep over Northern Michigan. Hirose had an assist and was +1 in last Friday’s 4-2 victory and a goal and two assists in Saturday’s 7-0 win over the Wildcats. Hirose assisted on Brendan Furry’s game winning goal Saturday.

The 22-year-old was a longtime BCHLer, playing four seasons with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks from 2016 to 2020. During his final year in the league, he led all defencemen in scoring with 51 points, was named a First-Team All-Star and won the league’s Top Defenceman award.

Trevor Zins (D) – Junior – University of St. Thomas (Trail Smoke Eaters)

  • Defenceman of the Week (Oct. 25)

Zins scored his first collegiate goal that weekend in the first of two games against Ferris State. He then scored a goal and added two assists the next night in a 5-2 victory, which was his team’s first ever NCAA Division I win. After not getting into any game action the past two seasons at St. Cloud State University, Zins now has six points in his first 10 games with St. Thomas.

The 23-year-old from St. Michael, Minn. played with the Trail Smoke Eaters from 2017 to 2019 and was the league’s fourth-highest scoring defenceman during his second and final season, after he put up 46 points in 58 games.

Dawson Tritt (F) – Freshman – Lake Superior State University (Alberni Valley Bulldogs)

  • Rookie of the Week (Oct. 18)

Tritt recorded a goal and an assist in the Lakers sweep over St. Thomas that weekend. He notched the secondary assist on the empty net goal in a 3-1 win over the Tommies and followed with a highlight-reel goal the next night.

The Spokane, Wash. native spent two full seasons with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs from 2018 to 2020. He put up 32 points in first year in the league and another 31 the following campaign.