Several Austin Bruins skaters, and one coach, will represent the team, and the Central Division, at the NAHL’s annual Top Prospects Tournament.
Forwards Dante Zapata, Andy Willis and Evan Cholak will suit up for the Central Division team, along with defenseman Lane Krenzen. Bruins head coach Steve Howard will be behind the bench as an assistant.
All players invited to the tournament will play in front of college and professional hockey scouts, in hopes of a scholarship offer or more.
The Bruins on the Central Division roster will have their own added storyline: they will play against their own teammates.
Defensemen Jaden Shields and Josef Mysak will play on one of two NAHL Selects teams. The “Selects” teams, red and white, are made up of younger players and those that received college commitments in the current season leading up to the tournament.
Evan Cholak is in his final year of junior hockey, along with all players born in 1997. They age out at the end of this season. Cholak is second on the team in scoring, only behind Travis Kothenbeutel. He already has a single-season high 43 points with 17 games left.
Andy Willis came to Austin in a mid-season trade with Lone Star. Willis scored four goals in his first four games with the Bruins. He put together a stretch of 17 points in 11 games from 11/3-12/8/17.
Zapata leads all NAHL skaters with four shootout goals. He has 19 points this season, with 16 coming via the assist.
Krenzen has three points in his last four games, and seven since the calendar flipped to 2018. All of those points are on helpers. Krenzen’s offensive game received a spark from his blueline partner Jaden Shields. When Shields put together his offensive outburst in December and January, that had a positive effect on Krenzen.
Shields leads all Bruins defensemen with 23 points. As of late January, he lead the entire NAHL blueliners in goals.
Mysak has been a steady defenseman for the Bruins this season and is viewed as a very good skater. He represented the Czech Republic at the World Junior A Challenge. Mysak is committed the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
Bruins head coach Steve Howard narrowly missed out on the opportunity to lead the Central Division. An Overtime loss to Aberdeen on February 3 made the difference. Wings bench boss Scott Langer will be the Central head coach.
The Top Prospects Tournament runs February 27 and 28 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.