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Omaha's Ward Earns NCHC Player of the Month for October

By NCHC, 11/02/21, 4:30PM EDT


SCSU’s Hrenák, DU’s Rizzo also honored for first month of the season

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With the first month of the 2021-22 season in the books, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) has announced its Players of the Month for October with three different teams represented. Omaha senior forward Taylor Ward is the NCHC Player of the Month for the opening month of the season, while St. Cloud State graduate student Dávid Hrenák is the Goaltender of the Month for October and Denver forward Massimo Rizzo is the October NCHC Rookie of the Month.

This is Ward’s first career NCHC Player of the Month honor, but second career monthly honor, earning NCHC Rookie of the Month in November of 2018. Hrenák gloved his third career NCHC Goaltender of the Month accolade and fourth career monthly award, last earning the honor for February of 2020. This is Rizzo’s first NCHC monthly award.

Player of the Month

Taylor Ward, Omaha
Senior Forward
Kelowna, B.C.

Ward tallied a point in all eight games Omaha played in October, leading the Mavericks to a 7-1-0 record. The assistant captain scored an NCAA-best 10 goals in the month and totaled 16 points, which leads the NCHC and ties for second nationally. Eight of his 10 goals came on the power play, including one game-winner, while he also dished out six assists. Ward averaged 2.00 points per game in October, which tied for the NCAA lead among players with more than two games played, though Ward is the only one to have played eight games.

Ward opened his season with an assist and a goal in a split with Lake Superior State, Oct. 2-3. He then scored the game-winning goal in a 4-1 win over Maine Oct. 8, before adding an assist in the sweep-clincher Oct. 9. Ward really turned it on over the final four games of the month, potting eight goals and tallying 12 points. He compiled three goals and four points in a sweep of Alaska on Oct. 15-17, then erupted for a career-high-tying four points both nights in a sweep of Long Island Oct. 29-30. In the series finale, Ward recorded his second career hat trick in a 7-1 victory to earn NCHC Forward of the Week honors.

Ward finished October with three multi-point outings and three multi-goal games, while scoring a goal in six of Omaha’s eight games. He fired 24 shots on goal during the month, while posting a +6 plus/minus and blocked three shots.

Ward is now eligible for Hockey Commissioners’ Association (HCA) National Player of the Month, which will be announced on Wednesday.

Goaltender of the Month

Dávid Hrenák, St. Cloud State
Graduate Student Goaltender
Povazska Bystrica, Slovakia

Hrenák started his fifth season at St. Cloud State strong, posting a 5-2-0 record in net, while surrendering a goal or less in six of his seven October starts. The Los Angeles Kings draft pick compiled a .943 save percentage and a 1.37 goals-against average in his seven starts, both of which lead the NCHC among goalies with more than one game played. His 1.37 GAA is sixth in NCAA men’s hockey this season (fourth among goalies with more than one game), while his .943 save percentage is ninth nationally for October (sixth among goalies with more than one game). He also logged one shutout in the first month of the campaign.

Hrenák opened the season with a 12-save effort against St. Thomas on Oct. 2 in a record-setting 12-2 win, then recorded his first shutout of the season and 12th of his career a night later with 12 more saves in a 2-0 win. He upped his game even more the following weekend, allowing only two goals total in a split at then-No. 1 Minnesota State, with 28 saves in a 1-0 loss Oct. 8, before making 22 stops in a 3-1 win the next night. Hrenák earned NCHC Goaltender of the Week for his efforts against the Mavericks with a .962 save percentage in the series. He then totaled 51 saves in a split with then-No. 4 Minnesota, making 22 in a 2-1 win Oct. 15 and 29 in an overtime loss Oct. 16. In his final outing of October, he again allowed only one goal, while making 23 stops in a 5-1 win over Wisconsin Oct. 22.

Hrenák racked up 148 saves during the month, averaging 21.1 saves per game. He became the Huskies all-time leader in career wins with his victory over St. Thomas to open the season, his 67th win as a Husky. Hrenák ranks first all-time at SCSU in wins (71) and shutouts (12), and is second in saves (2,814) in program history.

Hrenák is now eligible for Hockey Commissioners’ Association (HCA) National Goaltender of the Month, which will be announced on Wednesday.


Massimo Rizzo, Denver
Freshman Forward
Burnaby, B.C.

Rizzo started his NCAA career on fire, tallying eight points in Denver’s six October games, tying for the NCHC rookie lead. He recorded four multi-point games and two multi-goal games, averaging 1.33 points per game, again tops among NCHC freshmen and second among all NCAA men’s rookies. Rizzo racked up five goals, which leads all NCHC freshmen and ties for first among men’s NCAA freshmen. He also doled out three assists and went 32-24 in the faceoff circle (57.1 percent) in October.

Rizzo opened his collegiate career with a pair of multi-point games in a sweep of Arizona State on Oct. 8-9. In his first regular-season game, he scored a goal and added an assist, then potted two more goals in a 4-3 win the next night to earn NCHC Rookie of the Week honors. The Carolina Hurricanes prospect notched his second multi-goal game on Oct. 16 in a shutout of Air Force. Rizzo capped October by handing out two assists on Oct. 22 in a 6-5 loss at then-No. 12 Providence for his first multi-assist game.

Rizzo fired 14 shots on goal in October and posted a +4 plus/minus, while blocking three shots. Although it didn’t count, Rizzo also scored a goal in DU’s exhibition win over Lindenwood on Oct. 2.

Rizzo is now eligible for Hockey Commissioners’ Association (HCA) National Rookie of the Month, which will be announced on Wednesday.


Player of the Month
Blake Biondi, So., F, UMD
Kevin Fitzgerald, Gr., F, SCSU
Ethen Frank, Gr., F, WMU
Riese Gaber, So., F, UND
Matthew Gleason, So., F, CC
Carter Savoie, So., F, Denver

Goaltender of the Month
Zach Driscoll, Sr., UND
Ryan Fanti, Jr., UMD
Ludvig Persson, So., Miami
Isaiah Saville, Jr., Omaha

Rookie of the Month
Stanley Cooley, F, CC
Owen Gallatin, D, UMD
Jack Peart, D, SCSU
Red Savage, F, Miami
Jake Schmaltz, F, UND