RALEIGH (MARCH 1, 2001) -- The National Hockey League has named Carolina Hurricanes wingman Shane Willis rookie of the month for February. Willis led all rookie scorers with 10 points during the month.
Willis notched seven goals and earned three assists in 12 games during the 28-day month including a hat trick on Feb. 21 against the Atlanta Thrashers. Willis is the fifth rookie in franchise history to register a hat trick during his rookie campaign and only the second rookie this season to notch three goals in one game.
Through Feb. 27 Willis ranked tied for seventh in franchise history in rookie goal scoring with 18 goals on the season with 21 games remaining.
Willis became known for his extra-hard slapshot before entering the NHL. He won the hardest shot competition during the 1999-00 International Hockey League All-Star competition with a 95.9 MPH shot and the 1999-00 American Hockey League hardest shot competition with a 95 MPH shot. This season, during the Hurricanes Dodge NHL SuperSkills competition Willis ranked first among all Carolina players with a 94.4 MPH rocket.
|FRANCHISE ROOKIE LEADERS|
|Here is the list of all-time Hurricanes franchise single-season rookie goal scorers.|
Through Feb. 28 Willis led all NHL rookies in goals scored (18), power play goals (8) game-winning goals (5) and shots (140). He ranks second among NHL rookies in points (37), and power-play points (16) and fourth among NHL rookies in assists (19). Willis’ 37 points rank him sixth among all Hurricanes and his 18 goals rank him tied for second on the team with linemate Martin Gelinas.
Willis tallied his first NHL points Oct. 7 at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, a 3-3 Hurricanes tie with Washington. Willis got his first NHL point when he assisted on Sami Kapanen’s first-period goal. Willis made the scoresheet two more times in the game when he notched his first NHL goal at 6:04 of the second period and earned an assist on Kapanen’s third-period goal.
The Hurricanes acquired Willis with the 88th pick in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. Willis was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1997 draft but opted to re-enter the draft after deciding not to sign with the Lightning. Willis played in his first NHL game on Feb. 5, 1999 at Washington but is still considered a rookie having played in just nine NHL games prior to the start of the 2000-01 season.
|ROOKIES OF THE MONTH|
|Oct. LW Brad Richards (Tampa Bay)|
|Nov. G Evgeni Nabokov (San Jose)|
|Dec. G Evgeni Nabokov (San Jose)|
|Jan. D Karel Rachunek (Ottawa)|
|Feb. RW Shane Willis (Carolina)|
The 23-year old Edmonton, Alberta native began the 2000-01 season playing beside centerman Ron Francis and winger Sami Kapanen. Midway through the season coach Paul Maurice moved Willis onto a line with center Rod Brind’Amour and Martin Gelinas. Willis registered four assists on Jan. 7 against the New York Islanders and Brind’Amour registered a hat trick.
Carolina Hurricanes Website Reporter Kyle S. Hanlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.