Max Prawdzik was the only North American Hockey League goalie to post three shutouts during the Robertson Cup playoffs.
And he had nearly perfect timing in producing them.
Prawdzik started the Lone Star Brahmas on their way to the Robertson Cup title with a shutout in the postseason opener. He finished the run with another in the final that awarded the Brahmas the NAHL playoff title and the USA Hockey Tier II junior national championship.
In between, Prawdzik had a shutout in the fifth and deciding game of the South Division championship series that made the Brahmas one of four teams to head to Duluth, Minnesota, for the conclusion of cup play.
The 20-year-old Boston University recruit from Andover, Massachusetts, had 23 saves in the opening 3-0 win over the Wichita Falls Wildcats, 15 in the 1-0 overtime thriller against the Corpus Christi IceRays in the division final and 17 in a 3-0 championship game win over the Aston Rebels.
Prawdzik came through when his team needed him most. Even the two 3-0 games were 1-0 battles into the final 18 minutes.
Looking back on a postseason in which they won nine of 11 games, Prawdzik said it was how his team reacted to the two losses that was key to becoming a champion.
Three games into the series with the IceRays, Corpus Christi had been shut out and held to a single goal while losing twice, needing overtime at home to pull out their only win.
The Brahmas faced elimination on the road until Prawdzik made 32 saves and they used a third-period goal to force overtime, where they quickly pulled out a 3-2 victory.
“That was the real tough part,” said Prawdzik, who went 9-2 with a 1.56 goals against average and .924 save percentage in the playoffs.
There was a temptation to feel the bounces were just going the wrong way, but Prawdzik said the team instead co-opted the saying, “Earn your bounces.”
“Guys on the team were almost getting frustrated, it seemed, by the bounces,” Prawdzik said. “We just kind of kept our heads down.
“Once we went into survival mode and we had to win, we brought it to another level, another gear.”
COLLEGE COMMITMENTS: Joe Sofo, a forward with the Coulee Region Chill of the NAHL, has committed to play at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
The 20-year-old from Sylvania, Ohio, has 27 goals and 24 assists in his third NAHL season.
Adam Pitters, who joined the NAHL’s Aberdeen Wings for the final five regular season games and 11 playoff games, has committed to Bowling Green.
Pitters, 18, spent most of the 2016-17 season as captain of the Grosse Point South High School team in Michigan. After scoring 66 points in 26 games for Grosse Point South, Pitters contributed three goals and two assists to the Wings attack in the postseason.
Matthew Brown, a forward with the New Jersey Rockets of the United States Premier Hockey League, has committed to play at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, beginning in the fall.
Brown, from Wood Ridge, New Jersey, had 19 goals and 24 assists in the USPHL in his fifth season in the Rockets program.
CHANGES AHEAD: The North American 3 Hockey League’s Glacier Nationals are relocating from Havre, Montana to Butte, where they will be known as the Butte Cobras in the fall.
Greg Sears, an assistant with the NA3HL Frontier Division champion Yellowstone Quake, will take over as head coach of the Cobras.
Adrian Veiderman has been selected as the next commissioner of the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. The Colorado-based Tier III league will enter its third season in the fall.
Blake Hull, son of National Hockey League Hall of Famer Bobby and brother of Brett, will be the new head coach and general manager of the RJMHL’s Aspen Leafs.
Breckenridge is scheduled to rejoin the RJMHL after a year off, putting the league back at six teams.
The Hudson Havoc, based in Wisconsin, will join the USPHL Premier Midwest Division for the 2017-18 season.
The NAHL will have just one change for the 2017-18 season with the Wichita Falls being approved for an inactive season. The 23 remaining teams will play in the same four divisions as in 2016-17.
The NAHL has scheduled its showcase in Blaine, Minnesota, for Sept. 20-23 and its Top Prospects Tournament at the USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, for Feb. 26-27, 2018.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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