North Iowa cruising along in Central

Even with the league’s top goaltender Robby Moss on the shelf, the first-place North Iowa Outlaws continue to go about their business in the NAHL’s Central Division, posting two more wins last weekend against the Fargo-Moorhead Jets.

“Those were huge wins and a big four points for us,” said North Iowa coach Dave Boitz, whose team improved to 22-7-1 on the season. “We needed that momentum.”

Tyler Jundt (two goals), Alex Carlson (goal, assist) and Max Mobley (two assists) all recorded two-point nights in a 6-4 triumph on Friday. Goaltender Matt Beggs picked up the win in net, making all 20 saves in two periods of relief.

The next night, Mobley connected for the game-winning goal and an assist as the Outlaws grounded the Jets, 3-2. Krystian Dziubinski and Bryant Skarda added the other North Iowa markers, while Betts turned aside 34 shots between the pipes.

“We got a balanced scoring attack and that always helps us out,” said Boitz. “We had a bunch of guys put the puck in the net, which is something we’d gotten away from the last few weeks, but we’re getting it back.”

The Outlaws have gone a respectable 5-3 without Moss, the league’s leader in goals-against average (1.95) and save percentage (.938) who has been out of the lineup since early December.

“To win without Robby, the best goalie in the league, says a lot about the guys, their level of play and what they’re capable of doing,” said Boitz.

Boitz, who will serve as head coach of the Central Division at next month’s NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, expects his prized netminder to be back between the pipes in the next few weeks.

“But you never want to rush a guy back, especially a player of his caliber,” he noted. “And, with the way we’re playing, there isn't a rush.”

North Iowa has been getting steady performances from Beggs, who was acquired last month from Alexandria.

“We were happy with the way Matt stepped in on Friday and got the win, and then again on Saturday,” said Boitz.

It was an extra special weekend for Mobley. With his four points against the Jets, the third-year forward became the Outlaws’ all-time leading scorer with 118 points, eclipsing former teammate Steve Mcleod’s mark.

“Max has stood for everything the Outlaws stand for: hard work, drive, commitment and has a never-quit attitude,” said Boitz. “He’s been through all the tough times and never gave up, always working hard.

“Now he’s a top Division I prospect, the top scorer on the team and just a great all-around role model, leader and player.”

“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, so I just want to say thanks to everyone,” Mobley said of the record. “I played with Steve two years here and a year back in Arizona and he’s like a brother to me.”

Bemidji State recruit Shea Walters continues to impress upfront, with Carlson showing constant improvement. Dziubinski has also given the Outlaws a boost since returning from the World Junior Championship with Poland.

Ross Ring-Jarvi’s exploits on the penalty-kill have been exceptional, according to his coach.

“He may be the best penalty-killer in the league,” said Boitz. “He’s a great all-around player.”

On the defensive end, Jundt, Matt Morin, Reed Rushing and Jon Crouse have stepped up their play in front of Beggs and fellow goaltender Zak Reneau.

“We have solid defense - we have all season long - and it’s not just the D, but the entire team,” said Boitz. “It’s a team concept that everyone has bought into, so it's not just one guy, but everyone.”

With two players already committed to Division I schools for next season – Walters and Skarda (Army) - the Outlaws are expecting more good news on the college front in the coming weeks.

“We have several guys with Division I interest,” said Boitz. “It seems everyday we get calls or scouts at our games watching. We’ve got a ton of guys who are very deserving, and I think it’s only a matter of time before they start coming in.”

With a six-point lead over their second-place opponent (Springfield), the Outlaws are counting on more of the same to stay atop the Central.

“If we can continue to get our balanced scoring and team defense, we should continue to be successful,” he said.

STANDINGS/LEADERS
North Division
TEAM GP W-L-OTL PTS PCT GF GA
St. Louis 33 26-6-1 53 .803 145 86
Marquette 33 20-11-2 42 .636 123 119
Mahoning Valley 31 19-9-3 41 .661 126 94
Alpena 33 19-12-2 40 .606 110 100
USNTDP 32 15-15-2 32 .500 113 118
Traverse City 33 11-14-8 30 .455 95 119 South Division
TEAM GP W-L-OTL PTS PCT GF GA
Wichita Falls 34 22-11-1 45 .662 123 103
Fairbanks 32 20-10-2 42 .656 88 69
Topeka 29 16-8-5 37 .638 91 74
Alaska 33 15-16-2 32 .485 99 121
Texas 36 10-23-3 23 .319 94 133
Kenai River 32 8-18-6 22 .344 89 137

Central Division
TEAM GP W-L-OTL PTS PCT GF GA
North Iowa 30 22-7-1 45 .750 115 72
Springfield 36 18-15-3 39 .542 128 126
So. Minnesota 32 15-11-6 36 .563 123 124
Bismarck 33 12-18-3 27 .409 90 123
Fargo-Moorhead 32 12-18-2 26 .406 111 119
Alexandria 28 11-15-2 24 .429 101 127

LEADING SCORERS
PLAYER TEAM P GP G A PTS
Cardwell, Adam WIC F 32 20 32 52
Walters, Shea NIO F 30 12 39 51
Graham, Derek MVY F 31 23 24 47
Salazar, Luke WIC F 34 21 25 46
Peterson, Erik ALP F 31 12 32 44
Warda, Ben STL F 33 11 32 43
Everett, Grant WIC F 33 13 29 42
Greco, Kyle SPR F 35 16 23 39
(three players tied with 38)

LEADING GOALTENDERS
PLAYER TEAM GPI MINS W-L-OTL GAA SPCT
Moss, Robby NIO 20 1197:57 16-3-1 1.95 .938
Reichard, Cody FBX 28 1660:45 17-10-0 2.06 .932
Merriam, Bryce TPK 25 1518:12 12-8-5 2.29 .899
Johnson, Mike STL 16 908:30 12-2-1 2.31 .913
Bartus, Garrett MVY 18 1070:38 12-3-2 2.52 .917

GOALS
PLAYER TEAM P GP G Graham, Derek MVY F 31 23
Salazar, Luke WIC F 34 21
OKane, Kyle STL F 28 21

ASSISTS
PLAYER TEAM POS GP A
Walters, Shea NIO F 30 39
(three players tied with 32)

PLUS/MINUS
PLAYER TEAM POS GP +/-
Merrifield, Mike STL F 33 +20
Morin, Matt NIO D 30 +20
(three players tied at +19)

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
North Division: Erik Peterson - Alpena IceDiggers
Alpena forward Erik Peterson struck for three goals and five assists as the IceDiggers skated to two wins last weekend. On Friday, the 19-year-old recorded four assists, including one on Russell Anderson’s game-winning goal, in a 7-3 victory over Marquette. On Sunday, the Alpena native tallied two goals, as well as the game-winner in the shootout, and an assist as the IceDiggers bested Traverse City, 4-3. He was also a plus-4 for the weekend.

"Erik is playing with a lot of confidence and is leading our team right now,” said IceDiggers coach-GM Kenny Miller. “He’s a threat to score every time he’s on the ice."

HONORABLE MENTION: Alpena goaltender Nick Graves

Central Division: Max Mobley - North Iowa Outlaws
North Iowa forward Max Mobley notched a goal and three assists last weekend, setting an all-time franchise record for points (118), as the Outlaws skated to a two-game sweep over Fargo-Moorhead. On Friday, the 20-year-old recorded two assists in a 6-4 win. The next night, the Glendale, Ariz., native rang up the game-winning goal and added an assist as the Outlaws downed the Jets, 3-2. He was also a plus-4 on the weekend.

“Max is a great player. He’s full of energy and has a passion for the game,” said Outlaws coach Dave Boitz. “He’s the kind of player that every coach wants; he never quits on you, always gives 110 percent and is a huge asset to this team.”

HONORABLE MENTION: Bismarck defenseman Austin Coldwell; Fargo-Moorhead forward Jordy Trottier and defenseman Mark Johnson

South Division: Ben Van Lare - Texas Tornado
Texas forward Ben Van Lare tallied three goals and two assists last weekend as the Tornado split a pair of games with Wichita Falls. On Friday, the 20-year-old recorded a hat trick, including the game-winning goal, in a 4-3 triumph. The next night, the Richardson, Texas, native assisted on two goals as the Tornado fell to the Wildcats, 7-5. He was also a plus-2 on the weekend.

“Ben is a strong, veteran player who gives 100 percent every time he touches the ice and his efforts are showing in his stats,” said Tornado coach-GM Dwight Mullins.

HONORABLE MENTION: Topeka forward Steve Shafer

LAST WEEK’S SCORES/HIGHLIGHTS
Friday, January 4
Marquette 3 @ Alpena 7 (ALP: (Peterson, 4A, +1)
Alexandria 3 @ Bismarck 2 (ALX: Hartman, GWG)
Alaska 5 @ Fairbanks 1 (ALK: Dargis, G, GWG, +2)
Fargo-Moorhead 4 @ North Iowa 6 (NI: Jundt, 2G, +1)
St. Louis 3 @ Springfield 4 (SPR: Greco, GWG, 2A, +1)
Wichita Falls 3 @ Texas 4 (TEX: Van Lare, 2G, GWG, +3)
Southern Minnesota 4 @ Topeka 3 (OT) (SM: Lipinski, GWG)

Saturday, January 6
Alexandria 6 @ Bismarck 5 (SO) (ALX: Clement, 3G, +3)
Alaska 2 @ Fairbanks 3 (FBX: Stonacek, G, GWG, +1)
Fargo-Moorhead 2 @ North Iowa 3 (NI: Mobley, GWG, A, +2)
St. Louis 4 @ Springfield 1 (STL: Warda, GWG, A, +2)
Wichita Falls 7 @ Texas 5 (WF: Jameson, 4A, +1)
Southern Minnesota 4 @ Topeka 5 (SO) (TOP: Artman, 2G)
Marquette 5 @ Traverse City 4 (SO) (MAR: Chad Pietila, 2G)

Sunday, January 7
Traverse City 3 @ Alpena 4 (SO) (ALP: Peterson, 3G, SOG, A, +1)

AROUND THE NAHL
TOP PROSPECTS COACHES NAMED: St. Louis coach Jon Cooper (North Division), Wichita Falls coach John Bowkus (South) and North Iowa coach Dave Boitz (Central) will serve as head coaches at the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, which will be held February 17-19 at the Ice Cube in Ann Arbor, Mich.

BALDASSARI TO HOLY CROSS: Second-year Fairbanks forward Gianni Baldassari, 20, has committed to Holy Cross (Atlantic Hockey) for next season. This year, the Fort Wayne, Ind., native has three goals for eight points after 23 games.

U17’s TAKE SECOND AT WHC: The U.S. Under-17 Team (4-2) finished in second place at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Ontario. University of Notre Dame recruit Cam Fowler was selected to the tournament’s all-star team.

PHANTOMS SHOWCASE COMING: Details on the Phantoms Hockey Showcase, which will be held January 18-21 at the Boardman Ice Zone in Boardman, Ohio, have been announced. Visit nahl.com for more information.

SHAFER IMPRESSES: Topeka forward Steve Shafer, 18, made some noise in the RoadRunners’ two-game split with Southern Minnesota last weekend, recording two goals and an assist. “He’s worked hard since camp to earn his position here, and he’s become a player that’s hard to keep out of the lineup,” said Topeka coach-GM Scott Langer.

ALUM COPS ATLANTIC HOCKEY AWARD: Canisius sophomore forward Josh Heidinger (Bozeman Icedogs, 2005-06) was named the Atlantic Hockey Player of the Month for December after posting two goals for five points in four games.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL: Mahoning Valley traded first-year defenseman Zack Barbis, 18, to Alpena for second-year defenseman Carl Nielsen, 19.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL II: Marquette acquired defenseman J.C. Richardson, 17, from Alaska and forward Jake Watchorn, 18, from Wichita Falls.

JEAN DEALT TO TC: Traverse City picked up 17-year-old forward Kyle Jean, who was listed by NHL Central Scouting on its preliminary ranking for 2008 draft-eligibles, from Marquette for a pair of tenders.

THE WEEK AHEAD
Thursday, January 10
Southern Minnesota @ Alexandria, 7:00 pm
Bismarck @ North Iowa, 7:30 pm

Friday, January 11
Marquette @ Alpena, 7:00 pm
USNTDP @ Mahoning Valley, 7:15 pm
North Iowa @ Southern Minnesota, 7:00 pm
Springfield @ St. Louis, 7:15 pm
Kenai River @ Texas, 7:30 pm
Alaska @ Wichita Falls, 7:00 pm

Saturday, January 12
Marquette @ Alpena, 7:00 pm
Alexandria @ Fargo-Moorhead, 7:05 pm
USNTDP @ Mahoning Valley, 7:15 pm
Bismarck @ North Iowa, 8:00 pm
St. Louis @ Springfield, 7:00 pm
Kenai River @ Texas, 7:30 pm
Alaska @ Wichita Falls, 7:00 pm

Sunday, January 13
Fargo-Moorhead @ Alexandria, 5:00 pm


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