The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its monthly player awards for the month of November. The Combat Hockey NAHL Defenseman of the Month for November is Casey Nelson from the Johnstown Tomahawks.
It is rare that a team has a defenseman lead them in scoring during any month of the season, but that is exactly what occurred during November in Johnstown. Tomahawks defenseman Casey Nelson, 20, lead his team in scoring during the month with nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in seven games played as the Tomahawks went 5-1-1 during that timeframe and firmly planted themselves as one of the contenders in the North Division. The native of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, recorded a point in all but two games during the month and his performance during the week of November 19th earned him North Division Player of the Week honors in the NAHL. His 18 points to date is currently tied for 3rd among NAHL defensemen.
Nelson (6’1/174) spent the last two seasons playing for the Alaska Avalanche in the NAHL. However, when the Avalanched were sold and relocated over the summer to Johnstown, PA, Nelson jumped at the opportunity to continue his NAHL playing career. Tomahawks head coach Jason Spence said that Nelson’s play and productivity on the ice is due to his determination. “Casey is a player that is starting to see things happen because he is a very hard working player. He came in here from Day 1 and bought into the system, the new team in Johnstown and accepted his role as a leader,” said Spence. “He has a tremendous amount of speed and is able to get up the ice quickly and transition into offense. His first couple of strides really enables him to separate from defenders and create space.”
“I think looking back on November, I would have to say that I was able to have some success because our entire team really came together. There was a lot of cohesion in the lockerroom and that translated into everyone playing better,” said Nelson. “Our power play really started to click and once you get used to your teammates habits on the ice, it makes everything a little easier.” Nelson said that his time in Johnstown has been a memorable one thus far. “I think the thing that really stands out is the fan support. We have a great set-up and situation here and playing in front of thousands of fans, who show their support no matter if we win or lose, really makes me happy with the decision to play my last junior season here. I think we have a team who can contend for a Robertson Cup and I am hopeful I can keep playing well and work towards a Division I opportunity.”
Goaltender Chris Truehl also earned an honorary mention as Brian’s Custom Sports NAHL Goaltender of the Month.