Ecklund, Skinner earn NA3HL hockey awards
Ian Ecklund and Garrett Skinner were two of the best players on the Blizzard roster this past season and both earned post-season honors when the NA3HL announced its season awards recently.
Ecklund was one of six players named first-team All-NA3HL. The forward from Proctor had four points in the playoffs and finished with a team-high 71 through 48 games in the regular season. Ecklund had 33 goals and 38 assists, while posting a plus-minus rating of plus-44. Ecklund's 71 points was the sixth most in the league.
"We as an organization are very happy with Ecklund and his league-wide award," head coach Jeff Crouse said. "It's a great accomplishment for anyone to receive any award, but very special to be recognized as one of the league's best."
Skinner was also a catalyst for this organization on and off the ice, where he was recognized with the NA3HL Outstanding Community Service Award. Skinner was noticed for his work with the United Way and Special Olympics in Alexandria.
He and Ecklund proved to be a strong one-two punch for Alexandria all season. Skinner set up a lot of Ecklund's goals and was first on the team in assists with 47. He added 14 goals to finish second on the team in points at 61.
Three Rivers forward Nico Vecchio was named the league MVP. He was first in the league in assists with 52 and second in points with 82. In his four years with the Three Rivers/Pittsburgh organization, he totaled 229 career points in the regular season.
TENDER WITH BISMARCK
Fans of the Blizzard probably saw this coming but it recently became official as Ecklund signed a tender to play for the Bismarck Bobcats next season. North American Hockey League franchises keep a close watch on Alexandria players and Ecklund definitely earned the opportunity with his ability to put the puck in the net this winter.
"That is what our organization is about," Crouse said. "Developing players and moving them on to the next level."
Ecklund will join some of his Blizzard teammates at the NA3HL top prospects event in Texas this May. Skinner, defenseman Austin Rudnick and goaltender Kyle Miller also earned that trip. Miller had a 2.19 goals against average and a .914 save percentage in 21 starts in net for Alexandria, while Rudnick finished with 24 points on six goals and 18 assists.
NA3HL SEASON AWARDS
FIRST TEAM - Forward: Nico Vecchio, Three Rivers; Forward: Scott Cuthrell, Cleveland; Forward: Ian Ecklund, Alexandria; Defense: Kyle Meeh, St. Louis; Defense: Connor Langfield, North Iowa; Goaltender: Michael Parda, Peoria
SECOND TEAM - Forward: Matt Kroska, North Iowa; Forward: Alex Berardinelli, Three Rivers; Forward: Drew Otto, Granite City; Defense: Kyle Ware, Battle Creek; Defense: Andrew Sprouse, Cleveland; Goaltender: Matt Hughes, Battle Creek
ADDITIONAL AWARDS - NA3HL Academic Achievement Award - Jordan Fogarty, Toledo; NA3HL Outstanding Community Service Award - Garrett Skinner, Alexandria