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3 Stars of the Week: Schmaltz breaks out for North Dakota

by Emerald Gao / Chicago Blackhawks

Each Monday, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight players who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect/system stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2015-16 season.

(UND Athletics/Peter Bottini)

1st Star: C Nick Schmaltz, University of North Dakota (NCHC)
The Line:
2GP, 2G, 4A

Schmaltz had a breakout weekend, posting six points to help North Dakota complete a two-game sweep of Miami University. Four of those points came in a big 6-2 win on Friday, as the 2014 first-round pick assisted on UND’s first three goals before starting—and finishing—an unbelievable passing sequence to cap off the scoring with his first goal of the season.

Watch the goal here:

On Saturday, Schmaltz assisted on the opening goal, then added the game-tying tally late in the third period to force overtime in an eventual 4-3 win. Schmaltz now shares the team lead with 13 points in 12 games during his sophomore season.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

2nd Star: LW Bryan Bickell, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line:
2GP, 2G, 4A

Bickell has rediscovered his offensive touch in the AHL, averaging two points a game since being assigned to Rockford two weeks ago. The 2004 second-round selection picked up three points (1G, 2A) in a 5-2 win over Iowa on Friday, then repeated that stat line the next night in a 4-3 victory. Bickell now has eight points over a four-game point streak for the IceHogs.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

3rd Star: G Michael Leighton, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line:
2GS, 2-0-0, 200th career AHL win

Leighton started and won both games for Rockford last weekend to surpass the 200-win mark in the AHL. The 34-year-old stopped 27 of 29 shots in Friday’s 5-2 victory, becoming the 13th netminder in AHL history to reach the 200-win milestone, then made 28 saves on Saturday to complete the weekend sweep over the Wild. Leighton also improved his record to 8-2-1 this season with a .922 save percentage and 2.31 goals-against average while helping the IceHogs extend their point streak to 10 games.

Honorable mentions: G Matt Tomkins, Ohio State (BIG10); D Ville Pokka, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)

Matt Tomkins made a combined 51 saves on 56 shots to help Ohio State sweep Canisius last weekend and extend both his and the team’s win streak to three games. The 2012 seventh-round pick has started eight of 10 games for the Buckeyes in his junior campaign, posting a .911 SV% and 2.80 GAA.

Pokka continued to drive offense from Rockford’s blue line last week, picking up a goal and an assist on Friday in Iowa and adding another helper the next night. Pokka now leads the IceHogs with eight assists and 10 points while appearing in all 14 games this season.

Around the system:

  • While Schmaltz was the star for UND, junior center Luke Johnson also played a big role in their success last weekend, tallying the overtime winner from a tight angle to finish off the 4-3 win over Miami. The 2012 fifth-round pick now has seven points on the season... Tyler Motte netted his fifth goal of the season for the University of Michigan in a big 7-3 win over Niagara and now shares the team lead in goals.

  • Jeremy Morin posted a goal and an assist on Friday in his only appearance for Rockford last week… Mark McNeill extended his point streak to five games (1G, 4A) with points in both weekend games for the IceHogs… Dennis Rasmussen tallied a goal in each game against Iowa and now has five points this season; three of his four goals have been scored against the Wild… Vinny Hinostroza contributed a pair of assists last weekend and now has points in three straight games (3A).

  • Kyle Cumiskey tallied the game-winner on Saturday in Iowa with his first goal of the season… Nolan Valleau, Kirill Gotovets and Cameron Schilling each posted a pair of helpers over the weekend.
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