BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – Oct. 31, 2018 – With the first month of the 2018-19 campaign completed, the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) is proud to honor some of its many early-season standouts. The WCHA Players of the Month for October 2018 are: Bowling Green State University sophomore Max Johnson (Forward), Bowling Green junior Alec Rauhauser (Defenseman), Bowling Green junior Ryan Bednard (Goaltender) and Ferris State University freshman goaltender Roni Salmenkangas (Rookie).
Max Johnson, So., Bowling Green (Lakeville, Minn.)
Johnson tied for the NCAA scoring lead with 13 points in October, helping Bowling Green go from unranked in preseason polls to No. 9 nationally following a 5-1-1 opening month, all in nonconference play. A facilitator as well as a scorer, the sophomore from Lakeville, Minn. lit the lamp six times (on 18 shots) and handed out seven assists, while tallying at least one point in six of his seven games. Johnson has led a potent BGSU power play, leading the country with 10 man-advantage points and tying for tops with five power-play goals.
While playing a challenging opening-month schedule that featured four games against nationally-ranked opponents, Johnson has remained among the national scoring leaders since the season began. He opened with a four-point contest (2g-2a) in an 8-2 road win at Mercyhurst on Oct. 6, tallied four assists in a home-and-home against Robert Morris (Oct. 12 and 14), then earned WCHA Forward of the Week honors for a five-point week vs. then-No. 19 Western Michigan and then-No. 4 Ohio State (Oct. 23-27). Johnson scored the game-winning goal in a 4-1 home victory over WMU (Oct. 23), recorded his first career hat trick in an 8-2 road win at OSU (Oct. 26) and picked up an assist in a 2-2 home draw with the Buckeyes (Oct. 27).
Among NCAA skaters with at least four games played in October, Johnson ranked third with 1.86 points-per-game and fifth with 0.86 goals-per-contest. This is Johnson's first career WCHA monthly award.
Honorable Mention: Darien Craighead, Jr., Northern Michigan (led the Wildcats with five points and four goals, tied for the fourth-most in the WCHA); Anthony Nellis, Sr., Lake Superior State (helped the Lakers to a 4-0-0 opening month with a team-best three goals and five points); Parker Tuomie, Jr., Minnesota State (tied for second in the WCHA and third in the NCAA with 11 points, including four goals and seven assists, to help the No. 4 Mavericks open with a 5-1-0 mark).
Alec Rauhauser, Jr., Bowling Green (Bismarck, N.D.)
Rauhauser tied for the NCAA lead with a WCHA-best +9 rating in October, while tallying eight points for No. 9 Bowling Green, which went 5-1-1 against nonconference opponents (four of which were nationally ranked). His eight assists tied for fifth nationally (tied for third among defensemen) and were tops among WCHA blueliners (second overall). The junior from Bismarck, N.D. added eight blocked shots and helped the Falcons rank second in the WCHA (eighth in the country) by yielding just 1.71 goals-per-game.
A returning All-American, Rauhauser posted multi-point road games in Bowling Green victories Oct. 6 at Mercyhurst (2a), Oct. 9 at then-No. 18 Western Michigan (2a) and Oct. 26 at then-No. 4 Ohio State (3a). He also added a helper in the Falcons' 4-1 home win vs. WMU on Oct. 23. In addition to leading WCHA defensemen in assists, Rauhauser was tops in points, power-play assists (five), power-play points (five, tied), and assists- and points-per-game (both 1.14).
This is Rauhauser's third career WCHA monthly award.
Honorable Mention: Philip Beaulieu, Jr., Northern Michigan (led the Wildcats with four assists in October).
Ryan Bednard, Jr., Bowling Green (Macomb, Mich.)
Bednard backstopped Bowling Green from unranked in preseason polls to No. 9 entering November, posting a 5-0-1 record with a 1.48 goals-against average, a .940 save percentage and one shutout. The Florida Panthers product has made the most starts (six) of the NCAA's 18 undefeated goaltenders, while his 140 saves are the most among that group.
A junior from Macomb, Mich., Bednard's top performances came on the road against ranked opponents. He posted 34 saves Oct. 9 at then-No. 18 Western Michigan, leading the Falcons to a 6-2 victory despite being outshot by a 36-19 margin. Bednard made 31 stops (on 33 shots) in an 8-2 road triumph at then-No. 4 Ohio State (Oct. 26). He also turned aside 23 shots in a 2-2 draw with the Buckeyes on Oct. 27, while posting a 15-save shutout in a 6-0 win vs. Robert Morris on Oct. 14.
Bednard ranked 10th nationally for GAA and 15th for save percentage, but fourth and seventh, respectively, among those with four-or-more starts. This is his second career WCHA monthly award.
Honorable Mention: Mareks Mitens, So., Lake Superior State (made just two starts, but was outstanding, stopping 60-of-61 shots in a pair of road victories to lead the NCAA with a .984 save percentage and the WCHA with a 0.50 goals-against average); Atte Tolvanen, Jr., Northern Michigan (played every minute in net for the Wildcats, ranking second in the WCHA and seventh nationally with 162 saves).
Roni Salmenkangas, G, Ferris State (Tampere, Finland)
The first Finnish goaltender to start a game in Ferris State history, Salmenkangas went a perfect 3-0-0 to tie for the NCAA wins lead among freshmen goaltenders. The Tampere native was between the pipes for all three Bulldogs victories during his opening month of college hockey, while his 1.52 goals-against average and .934 save percentage were both second-best nationally for a rookie netminder.
Salmenkangas made his collegiate debut October 19, turning aside 21-of-23 shots in a 5-2 victory over visiting Mercyhurst. He collected his first career shutout in his WCHA debut, a 27-save effort in a 4-0 triumph over Alaska Anchorage on Oct. 26, then made 21 stops the next night in a 3-2 win vs. the Seawolves.
Among WCHA goaltenders that also made at least three starts in October, Salmenkangas ranked second for both GAA and save percentage.
Honorable Mention: Brian Halonen, F, Michigan Tech (ended the month on a three-game scoring streak against ranked opponents, leading WCHA freshmen in October with five points overall); Julian Napravnik, F, Minnesota State (tallied four points on three goals and an assist, while ending the month on a three-game scoring streak for the No. 4 Mavericks); Tim Theocharidis, D, Bowling Green (scored a goal in his first two collegiate games and led BGSU freshmen in October with four points, while posting a +3 rating for the No. 9 Falcons).