COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The junior class shined this past weekend as three of the four Bauer National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Players of the Week for the week of Jan. 1-7, 2018 are third-year players. Earning Bauer NCHC Player of the Week honors for week 12 are Denver junior forward Dylan Gambrell for Offensive Player of the Week, DU junior blue liner Blake Hillman for Defenseman of the Week, Miami freshman forward Casey Gilling for Rookie of the Week and Omaha junior netminder Evan Weninger for Goaltender of the Week.
This is Gambrell’s eighth career NCHC weekly award (five-time Rookie of the Week) and third Offensive Player of the Week nod, but first this season. This is the first career NCHC weekly honor for both Hillman and Gilling, while Weninger nabbed his seventh career NCHC weekly award, including fifth Goaltender of the Week honor, but first this season.
Dylan Gambrell, Denver
Bonney Lake, Wash.
Gambrell powered Denver to a split at Miami with a five-point weekend, recording multi-point games both nights, after logging a combined five points in his eight games prior to the series in Oxford. On Friday, the San Jose Sharks draft pick tried to single-handedly rally the Pioneers with a pair of goals. He scored DU’s first goal to cut a two-goal deficit in half, and did so again in the closing minutes of a 4-3 defeat. Gambrell fired a career-high 12 shots on goal in the contest and was +2 in the loss to earn Third Star of the Game in his 100th career game. The next night, the Bonney Lake, Wash. native tied a season high with three points on a goal and two assists in a 4-1 victory. Gambrell set up the first two goals in the first frame, the second of which was the game-winner on the power play, while he scored DU’s third goal to make it 3-0 in the third period. Gambrell logged a +3 and was named First Star of the Game on Saturday. He finished the series with three goals, two assists, a +5 plus/minus and fired 15 shots on goal, while going 24-20 in the faceoff circle (.545). On the season, Gambrell is third in the NCHC with 27 points on nine goals and 18 assists.
Blake Hillman, Denver
Elk River, Minn.
Hillman contributed all over the ice in Denver’s split at Miami, playing on both special teams as well. In Friday’s 4-3 defeat, the Chicago Blackhawks prospect had a hand in all three tallies, tying a career high for points and assists, as he set up each goal. Hillman had the primary assist on DU’s first two goals, which closed the deficit to one each time, while earning the second assist on Denver’s final goal. He fired a career-high-tying seven shots on goal Friday as well, while logging a +3 plus/minus. The next night, Hillman was again anchoring DU’s top defensive pair, while he put five shots on goal, was +1 and helped kill all three Miami power plays in a 4-1 victory. He also blocked two shots Saturday. Hillman finished the weekend with three assists, a +4 plus/minus, 12 shots on goal and two blocks. On the season, he has two goals and six assists for eight points, doubling his season assist total this past weekend.
Casey Gilling, Miami
Gilling had the best weekend of his young, collegiate career to help the RedHawks earn a home split against defending national champion Denver with a four-point series. On Friday, Gilling posted a career-high three points, including his first career multi-goal game as he opened the scoring 1:10 into the contest. He then added a power play goal and assisted on the game-winning goal, also on the man advantage, in the third period to close out the 4-3 victory. Gilling was +1 Friday and earned First Star of the Game. The next night, he set up Miami's lone tally of the game in a 4-1 loss Saturday, while firing five shots on goal. Gilling finished the series with two goals, two assists, a +1 plus/minus and seven shots on goal, while he also won 23 of 37 faceoffs he took (.622 win percentage). On the season, Gilling has 12 points on five goals and seven assists in 19 games.
Evan Weninger, Omaha
In his only action of the weekend, Weninger backstopped Omaha to a 4-1 victory at then No. 6 North Dakota on Friday. He totaled a season-high 34 saves to earn the win, including stopping all 20 shots he faced in the second period alone. He also helped kill all three UND power plays on Friday, making seven saves with North Dakota on the man advantage. Weninger’s .971 save percentage in the game earned him First Star of the Game honors, while allowing only the one goal, which was scored on a penalty shot in the first period. Weninger has now allowed only one goal in each of his last two starts and is now 8-6-0 on the season with a 3.36 goals-against average and a .890 save percentage.
Offensive Player of the Week
Mikey Eyssimont, Jr., F, SCSU – Tallied three points on two goals and an assist in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Minnesota, while logging a +2 plus/minus.
Shane Gersich, Jr., F, UND – Totaled three points in a split with Omaha, scoring UND’s lone goal on a penalty shot in a loss Friday, while dishing out two assists in a win Saturday, including on the game-winner, as he was +2.
Defenseman of the Week
Andrew Peski, So., D, UND – Recorded his first career multi-point game in Saturday’s win over Omaha, scoring his first collegiate goal, while adding an assist and logging a +3 plus/minus in the victory.
Rookie of the Week
Blake Lizotte, Fr., F, SCSU – Dished out a career-high three assists in a 5-2 win over Minnesota to earn Second Star on Saturday, when he had a career-high +3 plus/minus.
Peter Thome, Fr., G, UND – Recorded his first career shutout on Saturday in his first start since Thanksgiving, making 15 saves in a 7-0 victory over Omaha.
Goaltender of the Week
Ryan Larkin, So., G, Miami – Went 1-1 in a split with Denver, totaling 73 saves on 79 shots against for a .924 save percentage, while recording a 3.22 GAA in the series.