We’re just days before nationals for the ACHA, a perfect time to look back at some of the incredible individual performances this season.
In D3, two NAHLstars tore it up. As much as I hate co-MVP awards, Carter Penzien and Cameron Smith both deserve elite recognition. Penzien put up 89 (36+53) points with the University of Georgia and Smith racked up 100 (72+28) with George Mason University. Former Bismark Bobcat, Smith, is clearly the most pure goal scorer in the league, while former Amarillo Bull Penzien has that ability to make everyone around him better. Both UGA and GMU will be at nationals starting next Tuesday (Mar.13).
The D3 goalie of the year without a doubt was Aaron Neighbor. The Michigan State University netminder posted a rock solid .930 SV% and 2.24 GAA in 1390+ minutes this season.
No goaltender controversy here, Bradley Neal was stellar at Aurora posting an incredible .956 SV%, 1.21 GAA & recording 19 wins (4 shutouts). The 21-year-old is in his third season of collegiate hockey and undoubtedly had his best season.
The league MVP race may be a bit more controversial, based on the fact that certain offences lit up teams within a 50 mile radius, but it’s hard to ignore Damien Lona. Surprisingly a downgrade from the previous season, Lona, the former Wichita Falls Wildcat poster 37 goals and 67 assists. As good as Lona was, I’d be crazy not to mention his teammates Ryan Murphy and Nick Okada who both put up 90+ points.
I have never seen goalie stats like Austyn Roudebush put up this season. After posting a .39 GAA & .978 SV% last season, I think everyone just credited that to the fact he only played four games. In 2017-18, Roudebush was out to prove people wrong. In 23 games, Roudebush set the pace with a .959 SV% and a .91 GAA (yes you read that right). No question top goalie material.
Player of the year or MVP would have to be Pavel Nayda. The massive Ukrainian winger really led the way on a sub-par, below .500 Mercyhurst squad. Nayda was head and shoulders above his teammates in the offensive department, racking up 40 goals and 20 assists. To average over a goal a game, lead the ACHA D1 in goals and be on a losing team, would be like McDavid winning the Hart this season and scoring more goals than Kucherov. It’s a true shame we won’t see Nayda on March 8th at nationals, but this season will have to garner him some serious attention in 2018-19.
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