FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks Ice Dogs rookie Mattias Sholl, who leads the North American Hockey League for goals against average, received the Vaughn NAHL Goaltender of the Month honor Thursday.
The 18-year-old from Hermosa Beach, California, posted a 9-0-0 record during March and helped the Ice Dogs capture the Midwest Division regular-season title for the second straight year.
“Mattias was lights out during March,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart said in an NAHL news release Thursday. “His team played with confidence in front of him because he was playing with confidence. He made easy saves, he made hard saves; he did it all.”
The 5-foot-10, 160-pound netminder compiled a .953 saves percentage last month while stopping 222 of 233 shots.
He leads the NAHL with a 1.69 goals against average and his .934 saves percentage for the season ranks second among goalies in the 24-team, Tier II junior A league.
Sholl said in the news release that any chance he gets, he plays, and will start in March, he wanted to make the most of it.
“I think the biggest challenge is trying to mentally lock in and get in a zone where you are playing with confidence,” he said.
“I think having an older brother who played in the league and has gone through the process of playing in the NCAA and then onto pro hockey has really helped. He has given me some great advice about not getting down when I am not playing, to keep working hard and play with confidence.
“He leads by example and definitely want to move down the path he did of getting an NCAA Division I opportunity coming out of the NAHL.”
Tomas Sholl, also a goaltender, played in the NAHL for now-defunct Fresno (California) Monsters from 2011-13.
He was a netminder for Bowling Green State Universty, of Ohio and the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, for three seasons (2013-14, 2014-15 and 2016-17).
He’s in his second season with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads.
His professional career began in the Southern Professional Hockey League in 2017-18 with the Macon (Georgia) Mayhem and the Evansville (Indiana) Thunderbolts. He also played that season with the ECHL’s Adirondack (New York) Thunder.
The Ice Dogs’ Luke Mobley and Noah Wilson were honorable mentions Thursday for the NAHL’s monthly honors.
Mobley was an honorable mention selection for the Bauer Hockey NAHL Forward of the Month, which went to Brandon Purcelli, of the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues.
Wilson was among the honorable mention choices for the Bauer Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month, which was awarded to Brendan Datema, of the Amarillo (Texas) Bulls.
The Ice Dogs play host to the fourth-place Janesville Jets in the first three games of the best-of-three Midwest Division semifinal series. The games are scheduled April 12-14 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena.
Games 4 and 5, if needed, will be played at the Janesville Ice Arena in Janesville, Wisconsin, on dates to be announced.
If the Ice Dogs win the semifinal series, they will have home-ice advantage for the Midwest Division championship series against the winner of the semifinal series between the second-place Minnesota Magicians and third-place Springfield.
No dates have been announced for the championship series.
The NAHL’s four playoff division champions — Midwest, South, Central and East — advance to the Robertson Cup National Tournament on May 10-14 at the Fogerty Arena in Blaine, Minnesota.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports.