Halloween has come and gone, the costumes are put away and the calendar now reads November. With a month of OHL hockey now in the books, I’d like to look at who the top performers for the month of October were. Here is who gets the hardware:
Forward Of The Month: Nail Yakupov (Sarnia Sting) No surprise here. The best player in the OHL and arguably the CHL had a month to remember. In 13 October games, Yakupov scored 11 goals and dished out 18 assists, proving himself to far and away be the most dangerous player in the league.
The dynamic 18-year-old Russian leads the league in scoring with 34 points in 16 games and is the biggest reason why the Sarnia Sting continue to be one of the league’s top team despite the loss of fellow star and linemate Alex Galchenyuk.
Defenseman Of The Month: Dougie Hamilton (Niagara Icedogs) While the selection of Yakupov as the month’s top performing forward was an easy one, pegging Hamilton as the best defenseman of the month might be an even bigger no brainer. The Niagara Icedogs blue-liner is scoring at a pace that even a skilled, star forward would have a tough time keeping up with, let alone a 6’4, 200 pound defenseman.
In October, Hamilton racked up seven goals and 20 points, failing to record a point in only three of 12 games. Besides leading all OHL rearguards in scoring, the 18-year-old has been in the top 10 of league scoring all season and currently ranks ninth with 23 points in 14 games.
Goaltender Of The Month: Brandon Maxwell (Sarnia Sting) Playing behind a guy like Nail Yakupov certainly makes it hard to get some love, but the play of goaltender Brandon Maxwell has been equally as important to the Sting’s success. The former Kitchener Rangers net-minder went 9-1 in October with a 1.85 GAA and a sizzling 0.95 save percentage helpnig backstop Sarnia to the second best record in the OHL.
The 20-year-old draftee of the Colorado Avalanche is second in the league in wins and save percentage, and ranks first in goals against.
Coach Of The Month: Stan Butler (Brampton Battalion) A team that many would have predicted to be a fringe playoff team at best currently sits in second place in the Central Division and has the third most points in the Eastern Conference. With a young team lacking fire-power up front, Stan Butler is turning in what may be considered his finest coaching job in his celebrated career as a junior bench boss. Knowing that his team doesn’t quite have the talent to play a high-scoring, run-and-gun type of game, Butler has instilled a hard-working, defense first approach in all of his players.
From the forwards to the defensemen, the Battalion have made a consistent effort in taking care of their own end and have yielded a league-low 36 goals through their first 15 games. While the players deserve credit for getting things done on the ice, anyone who watches this team play would quickly see that it is Butler who is driving the bus.