Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Topeka's Erik Higby named NAHL Player of the Year

New Braunfels, Texas Native and Topeka Roadrunners forward Erik Higby has already committed to Northern Michigan University, and won the League's Scoring Title. He's now been named the League's Player of the Year for the 2009-2010 season.

To many people this was no surprise as the Roadrunners forward had a big breakout year going from 37 points (11G 23A) to an impressive 80 points and showing the CCHA a glimpse of what to expect when he arrives at Northern Michigan University next year along with Texas Natives C.J. Ludwig & Ryan Daugherty next season.

Despite the disappointing playoff run where he had just 5 assists in the playoffs, the Roadrunners went toe-to-toe with the Bandits where the first 4 games were back-and-forth. However, Game 5 went bad when the Bandits scored 4 goals in the 2nd period to eventually doom the Roadrunners season. This won't take away from the big things he's looking forward to when he joins the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA).

After winning the League's Player of the Year, he will represent the North American Hockey League for the USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year Award for the entire nation.

From the NAHL Website: www.nahl.com

From Wenatchee, Washington: The North American Hockey League (NAHL) announced tonight at the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament banquet that Topeka Roadrunners forward Erik Higby has been named its Most Valuable Player for the 2009-2010 season, as selected by the league's coaches and Team GMs.

Higby was also selected as the NAHL's Nominee for the 2010 USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year Award, named Forward of the Year and to the All-NAHL Team for this season.

The 20 year old forward from New Braunfels, Texas won the NAHL Regular Season Scoring Title with 80 points which includes 27 goals. His +37 rating also lead the league during the regular season.

"Erik is a special type of player," said Roadrunners Head Coach Scott Langer. "His vision and abilities on the ice are tremendous, but what really sets him apart is the way he goes about his business; he's focused, determined, intelligent, he quietly leads by example."

Higby, who participated in January's NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, has committed to North Michigan University (CCHA) for next season. His on-ice performance, earned NAHL South Player of the Week three times this season.

"Erik's production on the scoresheet is what the casual fan first sees, but it's his demeanor with his teammates and with the public that sets him apart," Langer said.

Higby's point total and 53 assists (2nd in the NAHL) also set team records for the Roadrunners, who finished 1st in the South Division in the Regular Season. The Playoffs ended on a sour note that the team lost 5-0 to the Bandits in the 5th Deciding Game in the South Division Championship that would have gotten the Roadrunners to the NAHL Robertson Cup Championship Tournament that begins Tuesday.

"For a player who led the league in scoring and rewrote pages of the team's record book, he's quite humble," said Langer. "He does all these things and is a solid citizen off the ice. What more can a coach or an organization ask for?"

Also named to the All-NAHL Team were:

Fairbanks Ice Dogs F Michael Juola

Wenatchee Wild F Jeff Jubinville

Albert Lea Thunder D Derek Docken

Alaska Avalanche D Jake Parenteau

Wenatchee Wild G Brandon Jeager

Here's a look at some of the other Award Winners from last night.

NAHL Defensemen of the Year
Derek Docken, Albert Lea Thunder

In 56 games with the Albert Lea Thunder this season, Docken totaled 24 points on 5 goals and was also a +23, The 19 year old from Northfield, Minn. He has also secured a scholarship to the University of Alaska-Anchorange in the WCHA.

NAHL Goalie of the Year
Brandon Jeager, Wenatchee Wild

A 19 year old from Champlin, Minn, Jeager fashioned a 22-3-1 record in 29 games played to compliment a NAHL Best GAA of 1.83 and a SV% of .928 in the Regular Season for the West Division Champions and NAHL Robertson Cup Hosts.

NAHL Rookie of the Year
Tanner Kero, Marquette Rangers

In his first Junior A Season, Kelo lead the NAHL with 32 goals while totalling 51 points in 57 games for the North Division Regular Season Champions Rangers. The 17 year old from Hancock, Michigan, has also signed a scholarship to Michigan Tech University in the WCHA.

NAHL Coach of the Year
Dane Litke, Janesville Jets

In the team's first season, Litke guided the expansion Janesville Jets to a 3rd place finish in the NAHL North Division with a 29-23-6 record. His team leading scorer also committed a Division 1 Scholarship for next season.

NAHL GM of the Year
Scott Langer, Topeka Roadrunners

Langer was the architect behind the Roadrunners South Division Regular Season Title, guiding the team to a 44-9-5 record, good for 93 points and tieing the Wenatchee Wild for the best overall regular season record. Under his watch, six Roadrunners players have committed to Division 1 Schools to date and orchestrated Topeka's Successful bid to host the 2011 NAHL Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.

NAHL Team of the Year
Wenatchee Wild

In its second season, the Wild drew both a league high average attendance of 3,417 and total attendance of 99,108. On the Ice, it finished with the best overall regular season record in the NAHL, with a 45-10-3 mark, good for 93 points. In addition, nine of its players have committed to Division 1 Schools to date. They also have won the West Division in both of their years in the league.

NAHL Academic Achievement
Robb Haider, Alaska Avalanche

Haider graduated Magna Cum Laude from South Anchorage High School, where he was also a member of the National Honor Society. The Anchorage Native was honored each semester with the School's All Academic Achievement award and achieved a perfect 4.0 GAA. On the Ice for the Avalanche, he had 32 points (13G 19A) in 54 games played as Alaska finished 2nd in the West Division in the Regular season before losing to Fairbanks in the West Division Semifinals.

NAHL Community Service Award
Mitch Torrel, Wenatchee Wild

Torrel contributed over 96 hours of community service work during the regular season, including leading a charge of a reading campaign with his team, which covered over 70 classrooms. The Air Force Academy Recruit from Monticello, Minn. Native was also recognized in March for his heroics in alerting the fire department and helping evacuating residents from a burning senior citizen facility. For the Wild this season, Torrel had 20 points in 43 games played which included 15 goals. So far in the post-season he's played in 4 games where he had no points.

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