COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Leading their teams to winning records last month, a trio of National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) players, two from Omaha and one from Minnesota Duluth, have earned NCHC monthly awards for November. Omaha senior forward Mason Morelli was selected the NCHC Player of the Month, while his teammate, freshman forward Taylor Ward, garnered NCHC Rookie of the Month and UMD junior netminder Hunter Shepard picked up NCHC Goaltender of the Month accolades for November.
This is the first career NCHC monthly award for both Morelli and Ward, while Shepard was the February Player of the Month in the NCHC last season, when a Goaltender of the Month was not yet awarded.
Mason Morelli, Omaha
Morelli led Omaha to a 4-2-1 record in November after the Mavericks went winless in October as he led the NCHC in scoring with 12 points in seven games last month. His 1.71 points per game were also tops in the conference in November, while his seven assists tied for the NCHC lead. The team captain’s five goals tied for fourth in the NCHC, including three on the power play and one game-winning goal. Morelli compiled four multi-point games and posted a +3 plus/minus in November, as well.
Morelli opened his scoring in November with a goal and an assist in a win over Miami on Nov. 3, which was UNO’s first win of the season. He added an assist in Omaha’s split at Western Michigan Nov. 9-10, before piling up nine points in his final three games of the month. Morelli powered the Mavericks to a sweep of then-No. 16 Arizona State behind a seven-point weekend, which earned him NCHC Offensive Player of the Week and NCAA First Star of the Week honors. In the opener Nov. 23, he tallied a career-high four points, including a career-best three assists, in a 6-4 win. The next night he totaled three points, including his first multi-goal game this season when he potted the game-winner in a 4-0 shutout. Morelli closed November with a goal and assist in a tie against Colorado College on Nov. 30 to earn First Star of the Game. He also scored the deciding goal in the shootout against the Tigers for an extra NCHC point.
Morelli finished November on a three-game point streak with four goals and five assists, while he fired 16 shots on goal in the month. He also blocked four shots and went 21-17 (.553) in the faceoff circle in November. On the season, Morelli is tied for the NCHC lead with 18 points on nine goals and nine assists.
Morelli is now a candidate for Hockey Commissioner’s Association (HCA) National Player of the Month, which will be announced on Wednesday.
Hunter Shepard, Minnesota Duluth
Shepard backstopped the Bulldogs to a 4-1-0 record in November, while leading all NCHC netminders during the month with a .949 save percentage, a 1.01 goals-against average and two shutouts. With his two shutouts, Shepard broke the school’s career whitewash record with his 10th at UMD. He allowed only five goals all month, compiling 94 saves on 99 shots. His 1.01 GAA ranked third nationally in November, while his .949 save percentage was sixth in the country and his two shutouts tied for second.
Shepard opened November with a sweep of Colorado College, conceding only one goal on the weekend. In his first game last month on Nov. 9, he stopped all 19 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season, while making 15 saves the next night in a 5-1 win. He was tabbed NCHC Goaltender of the Week for his efforts. The following weekend, Shepard racked up 28 saves in a split at then-No. 7 Denver. He then closed November with his record-breaking 10th career shutout, making 22 saves in a 5-0 win over North Dakota on Nov. 30, again garnering NCHC Goaltender of the Week honors for a second time.
Shepard blanked the opposition in 10 of 15 periods, plus an overtime, during his five November games. He also helped the Bulldogs to an .889 penalty kill during the month, as only two of the five goals he allowed in November came on the power play. On the season, Shepard is 10-3-1 with an NCHC-best 1.75 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
Shepard is now a candidate for Hockey Commissioner’s Association (HCA) National Goaltender of the Month, which will be announced on Wednesday.
Taylor Ward, Omaha
After only two points in October, Ward had a breakout month, compiling 10 points in seven games to lead all NCHC rookies and tie for second among all NCHC skaters. His 10 points also ranked second among all NCAA rookies in November. Ward tallied three goals and dished out seven assists, which tied for the NCHC lead among all skaters and tied for second among NCAA rookies in November. His 1.43 points per game were tops among NCHC newcomers as well, as he had at least a point in six of seven games. Ward posted a +2 plus/minus in helping Omaha go 4-2-1 during November.
Ward began the month with Omaha’s only goal in a 4-1 loss to Miami Nov. 2. The following night, he had a goal, an assist and a +2 rating in a 6-3 victory for his first career multi-point game. For his efforts, he earned his first career NCHC Rookie of the Week honor. At Western Michigan the following weekend, Ward had a primary assist in Omaha’s 7-2 loss in the series opener, his only point of the weekend. The native of Kelowna, B.C. then tallied a goal and an assist in a 6-4 win over then-No. 16 Arizona State and came back the next night with another assist on the game-winning goal in a 4-0 win over the Sun Devils. Ward wrapped up the month on Nov. 30 with a career-high three assists, two primary, in a 3-3 tie with Colorado College, with the three points also a career high. He again garnered NCHC Rookie of the Week honors, as well.
Ward put 14 shots on goal in November, while five of his points came on the power play. On the season, he ranks third in scoring among NCHC rookies with five goals and eight assists for 13 points.
Ward is now a candidate for Hockey Commissioner’s Association (HCA) National Rookie of the Month, which will be announced on Wednesday.
|Month||Player of the Month||Goaltender of the Month||Rookie of the Month|
|October||Ryan Larkin, Jr., G, Miami||Ryan Larkin, Jr., G, Miami||Emilio Pettersen, Fr., F, Denver|