EDINA, Minn. – Nov. 4, 2015 – New for the 2015-16 season, the men's Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) is introducing awards honoring its top player (forward, defenseman or goalie) and rookie (also, any position) of each month. The inaugural winners both were among the NCAA's top performers at their respective positions during the season's opening month, with Alabama Huntsville sophomore forward Brennan Saulnier earning WCHA Player of the Month honors and Northern Michigan freshman goaltender Atte Tolvanen garnering WCHA Rookie of the Month accolades for October 2015.
Brennan Saulnier, So., F
Alabama Huntsville (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
Saulnier was the nation's top goal-scorer (per games played) in the season's opening month, netting six in five games for an average of 1.20 per contest. The sophomore's overall goal total was tied for fourth in the country and was just one behind the NCAA's three co-leaders, all of whom played at least one more game. The Halifax, Nova Scotia native also added three assists for nine total points, while his 1.80 points-per-game average led the WCHA and ranked sixth among all NCAA players who appeared in at least two October games. Saulnier tallied at least one point in all five of his games played and scored in four, highlighted by a career-best four-point effort in a 5-2 win over Connecticut on Oct. 10 and a two-goal contest in UAH's 5-4, overtime win Oct. 30 at Lake Superior State. While he missed the Chargers' final game of the month, he helped Alabama Huntsville to a 3-2-1 record – marking the first time UAH has been over .500 since October 2009.
Also nominated: Gerry Fitzgerald, So., F, Bemidji State; J.T. Henke, So., F, Lake Superior State; Jamie Phillips, Sr., G, Michigan Tech; Kyle Schempp, Jr., F, Ferris State; Blake Tatchell, Sr., F, Alaska Anchorage
Atte Tolvanen, Fr., G
Northern Michigan (Vihti, Finland)
Tolvanen was a virtual brick wall in front of the Northern Michigan net during his first collegiate month, facing the second-most shots of any NCAA goaltender in October (258) and finishing with the second-most saves (243), while playing the second-most minutes (452:37). Among the 30 NCAA goalies who faced at least 150 shots last month, Tolvanen ranked fifth for save percentage (.942) and sixth for goals-against-average (1.99) – both tops among all national freshmen (again, minimum 150 shots faced) and all WCHA netminders. The native of Vihti, Finland was even better in four conference games, going 2-1-1 with a .966 save percentage (143-for-148) and 1.23 GAA. The two-time WCHA Rookie of the Week had a trio of 40-save performances, while he earned league Defensive Player of the Week honors after a career-best 46-stop effort in a scoreless tie against Bemidji State on Oct. 30 (part of an 80-save weekend). All told, Tolvanen backstopped Northern Michigan to a 3-2-3 record when he played (2-2-3 as a starter), while the Wildcats finished October in a tie for third in the WCHA standings with five league points (2-1-1).
Also nominated: Brett Boeing, Fr., F, Michigan Tech; Mitch Hults, Fr., F, Lake Superior State; Jeremiah Luedtke, Fr., F, Alaska Anchorage; Corey Mackin, Fr., F, Ferris State