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Brian Smith | HCA | February 5, 2019

College hockey: Mercyhurst's Joseph Duszak's nine-goal January earns player of the month honors

Pioneer Brett Stapley stuns in overtime

WAKEFIELD, Mass. – Mercyhurst defenseman Joseph Duszak has been named the Hockey Commissioners Association Player of the Month after a stat-filled month of January. Duszak led the country in two offensive categories, tallying 17 points and netting nine goals in eight games played. He also registered eight assists, which tied for seventh.

The junior blueliner had a point in each of the eight games in which he appeared, which pushed his scoring streak to 10 straight games entering February. Duszak opened January with a hat trick, part of a four-point game, in a 4-3 win over Holy Cross. He had another pair of two-goal games, both leading to Mercyhurst wins.

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The Franklin Square, New York native also added in six blocks and a plus-four rating while moving Mercyhurst into position for a first-round bye in the AHA playoffs. He was on the ice for 17 of his teams’ goals, the most of any player in the month of January.

Skelleftea, Sweden native Ludwig Stenlund has earned the HCA’s Rookie of the Month honors after tying for the lead in scoring amongst rookie skaters in January. He had 10 points on five goals and five assists, leading Niagara to a 2-2-2 record against conference opponents.

Stenlund finished January as the only freshman in Atlantic Hockey’s top-10 in scoring, tying for fifth. He scored in five of the team’s six games, with multi-point games in three of those outings. Stenlund was the only player in the conference to tally two shorthanded goals this month, and bookended his January with three-point performances against RIT (Jan. 4) and Mercyhurst (Jan. 19). His four-point weekend against the Lakers gave Niagara their second conference sweep of the season.

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Additionally, Stenlund netted two shorthanded goals, more than any other player in the NCAA to open 2019.

Minnesota Duluth junior Hunter Shepard gloved HCA Goaltender of the Month accolades, backstopping the Bulldogs to a 5-1-0 record in January, with his .833 win percentage tops in the NCHC. He ranked third nationally with a 1.34 goals-against average and fifth in the NCAA with a .944 save percentage during the first month of 2019. Shepard totaled 136 saves in January, allowing more than two goals only once in six games. 

Shepard blanked Miami on back-to-back nights Jan. 18-19, with his two shutouts during the month tying for the NCAA lead. He garnered NCHC Goaltender of the Week and NCAA Third Star of the Week honors for his two whitewashes.  The undrafted netminder opened his 2019 on Jan. 11 with a 30-save performance in a 3-1 win over No. 1 St. Cloud State, earning him First Star of the Game. He was the game’s First Star in three of his six January starts, also garnering it on Jan. 19 at Miami and after making a season-high 33 saves in a 3-1 win over Omaha on Jan. 26.

After his strong January, Shepard now ranks third in the country with a 1.75 GAA and is tied for second in the NCAA with five shutouts. His 17 wins (17-7-2) also rank third nationally, while his .924 save percentage is second in the NCHC and 14th nationally.

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