Craighead, Vanderback earn WCHA Player of the Week honors

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BLOOMINGTON, Mn. The Men’s League of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association is proud to recognize four student-athletes as its Players of the Week for games of Jan. 24-25. Northern Michigan senior Darien Craighead (Forward) and freshman forward AJ Vanderbeck (Goaltender), Minnesota State junior Connor Mackey (Defenseman) and Ferris State sophomore Roni Salmenkangas (Goaltender) earn this week’s honors.

WCHA Forward of the Week

Darien Craighead, Sr., Northern Michigan (Surrey, B.C.)

Northern Michigan’s Darien Craighead started the weekend with two assists in the first period on Friday, including one on NMU’s last-minute goal to tie things up at 3-3 heading into the first intermission. The Surrey, B.C., native then continued his success on Saturday, finding the back of the net on the first two Wildcat goals en route to a 4-2 victory. For the weekend, Craighed led the Wildcats in goals with two and finished with a +3 plus/minus rating while scoring twice on four shots. Across the league, his two goals tied for the WCHA weekend high and his four total points ranked second. Craighead now ranks third on the team in points this season with 21 on eight goals and 13 assists. This is his first career WCHA weekly honor.

Honorable Mention: Nick Cardelli, So., Bemidji State: Posted a team-high three points on two goals and an assist in Bemidji State’s split at No. 3/3 Minnesota State. Justin Michaelian, So., Ferri State: Notched the game-winning goal in Ferris State’s 2-1 victory at Michigan Tech on Saturday. Pete Veillette, So., Lake Superior State: Led the Lakers to a win and a tie against Alaska Anchorage with a goal and an assist, potting the game-winner in Friday’s 3-2 victory over the Nanooks. Dallas Gerads, Jr., Minnesota State: Scored twice, including the game-winner on Friday night, in Minnesota State’s split with Bemidji State over the weekend.

WCHA Defenseman of the Week

Connor Mackey, Jr., Minnesota State (Tower Lakes, Ill.)

Minnesota State junior Connor Mackey registered two points on two assists as No. 3/3 Minnesota State split a home WCHA series with Bemidji State. The Tower Lakes, Ill, native assisted on the Mavericks’ game-winning goal in Friday's 3-2 win over the Beavers and also finished with a +2 plus/minus rating with four shots on goal in the series. This is Mackey’s second career WCHA weekly honor.

WCHA Goaltender of the Week

Roni Salmenkangas, So., Ferris State (Tampere, Finland)

Ferris State sophomore goaltender Roni Salmenkangas compiled a WCHA-best 1.51 goals against average and an impressive .950 save percentage in FSU’s split at Michigan Tech. The Tampere, Finland native finished with 57 saves on 60 shots while playing 118:53 in net, including 29 saves in the Bulldogs’ 2-1 victory over the Huskies in Saturday’s series finale. This is Salmenkangas’ fourth career WCHA weekly honor. He was named Rookie of the Week four times in 2018-19.

Honorable Mention: Zach Driscoll, Jr., Bemidji State.: Turned aside 64-of-69 shots in the Beavers’ weekend split at No. 3/3 Minnesota State, including a career-high 48 stops in Bemidji State’s 4-2 win on Saturday.

WCHA Rookie of the Week

AJ Vanderbeck, Fr., F, Northern Michigan (Monument, Colo.)

Northern Michigan forward AJ Vanderbeck continues to make his presence known on the offensive front, leading the Wildcats in points with five as they went 1-0-1 at Alaska. After two assists in Friday’s tie, Vanderbeck came out Saturday with a career-high three points on a goal and two assists, including his first career game-winning goal. The Monument, Colo., native led NMU and the league in points with five while his four assists were also a conference best. With four assists and five points his tally ranked first and second in the nation, respectively, over the weekend. Having only played six conference games thus far, his nine points ranks ninth among all league rookies and his 1.50 points per game is a WCHA best. This is Vanderbeck’s first WCHA weekly honor.

Honorable Mention: Louis Boudon, Fr., F, Lake Superrior State: Tallied three points on a goal and two assists for the Lakers against Alaska Anchorage. Nathan Smith, Fr., F, Minnesota State: Registered two points on a goal and an assist in No. 3/3 Minnesota State’s home split with Minnesota State.