MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (Blugolds.com) – Brandon Stephenson (Sr.-Saline, Mich.) led six UW-Eau Claire men's hockey players on this year's All-Northern Collegiate Hockey Association team by being named Player of the Year. Additionally, Blugold head coach Matt Loen was named Coach of the Year.
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Stephenson, who helped lead the Blugolds to their first NCHA title in school history, becomes just the third Blugold in history to earn NCHA Player of the Year honors. The Blugolds' last conference Player of the Year was Loen in 1995 while Alex Hicks received the honor in 1990.
Stephenson's importance to the Blugolds is illustrated by several statistics. The 6-2, 165 pound netminder led the NCHA in winning percentage (.818), yet also ranked second in total saves (594). He was one of the busiest goalies in the league and still managed to lead his team to victory on most nights. Stephenson led the NCHA in conference minutes played (1087:12) and save percentage (.930). He went undefeated from October 26 through December 1 and allowed two or less goals in 15 of his 22 starts. Stephenson enters the Peters Cup Playoffs on a 7-1-0 streak over his past eight games.
Stephenson's senior season has been exactly the crescendo to a career every player hopes for. He has improved in each of his four years at UW-Eau Claire, marking his final season as one the most consistent goaltenders in the country. He set career highs in save percentage, total saves and wins, and was mere hundredths of a point from a new high in goals against average. While he only recorded one shutout in 2012-13, it came in one of the biggest games of the season against a St. Norbert team that had not been shut out all year.
In program archives, Stephenson ranks first in both career wins with 43 currently and season wins with 17 so far this year.
In addition to Stephenson, Jordan Singer (Sr.-Lino Lakes, Minn./Centennial) and Jack Callahan (So.-Red Bank, N.J./Christian Brothers Academy) were named to the All-NCHA team.
Singer, a forward, leads the Blugolds with 18 goals and 30 points. He is also tied for fifth on the team with 12 assists. His 18 goals is a league-best while 30 points is tied for second most in the NCHA. He is currently 17th in program history for career points with 94 and 11th with 51 goals. He is first in school history in game-winning goals with 11. This is Singer's third straight year with All-NCHA accolades.
Callahan, a defenseman in his first year with the Blugolds, has played in all 25 games so far this year. He has one goal and 15 assists, tied for a team-high. He is part of a defense that has given up just 56 goals and 727 shots while the Blugolds compiled 101 goals and 861 shots.
Isaiah Bennis (Sr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial), Andrew McCabe (Sr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) and David Donnellan (Jr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) all received All-NCHA honorable mention recognition.
Bennis, a forward, has played in 19 games this season and has 10 goals and seven assists for 17 points. His total of 10 goals is second-most on the team.
McCabe, a forward, has played in all 25 games so far this year and has compiled seven goals and 14 assists, tied for third most on the team.
Donnellan, a defenseman, has five goals and nine assists and has played in all 25 games so far this year.
Also announced today, the league coaches voted Matt Loen 2013 Coach of the Year. This is the second award for Loen in the past three years, as he also won it in 2011. He is also the only person to ever earn NCHA Player of the Year and Coach of the Year honors. Loen directed the Blugolds to a 19-4-2 overall record through the regular season. His team began this year with seven straight wins and an 11-game unbeaten streak. The Blugolds enter the postseason as the No. 1 seed in the Peters Cup Playoffs.