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NAHL Notebook: Expansion Grit name head coach, director of player development

Steve Haddon, a Sarnia, Ontario native, will lead the Grit behind the bench.

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The expansion club Colorado Grit, which on Jan. 6 gained approval to join the NAHL, has named a head coach and director of player development.

Steve Haddon, a Sarnia, Ontario native, will lead the Grit behind the bench. Haddon coached the Colorado Eagles of the Western States Hockey League for five seasons and was head coach and general manager of the Northern Colorado Eagles of the now U.S. Premier Hockey League since 2018-19 season.

The 38-year-old Haddon has a career record of 315-177-78 and has helped more than 100 players move on to the NCAA and professional levels. He is a former professional player in the ECHL with the Colorado Eagles.

David Clarkson, a longtime NHL player, expands his role outside the ownership group in the positions of vice president and director of player development. The Toronto native has spent the past six seasons developing, coaching and scouting hockey players at the youth, junior and pro levels.

"As a program we are excited to have these two phenomenal 'hockey guys' who share the vision of establishing a successful NAHL program," Grit president and co-owner Casey Bradshaw said. "They have great coaching and development acumen and are committed to helping players advance their careers and grow as young men."

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The Grit, along with another expansion team, the Rochester (N.Y) Jr. Americans, will begin play this fall.

Top prospects to meet

The NAHL Top Prospects tournament will be Feb. 6-7 and again returns to the UMC Lemieux Sports Complex outside Pittsburgh. The tournament is one of the most highly scouted events o fits kind, the league says, featuring almost every NHL and NCAA school to take a look at the best uncommitted players in the NAHL and potential NHL draft picks.

Four teams will be formed of 22 players each (13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders). Rosters are expected to be announced Jan. 25.

The number of players sent to the tournament from each team is based off winning percentage within their division, with some teams sending four, three or two players.

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Jacob Conrad, a native of Wisconsin, leads all defenseman on his team in scoring. He recently announced his commitment to play Division I at LSSU.
Jack Malinski had a handful of Division I suitors. In the end, the Lakeville native and Austin Bruins captain chose the school that had pursued him for two years.
The Rosemount, Minn., native has played three seasons with the St. Cloud Norsemen of the NAHL and just recently committed to play Division I at Alaska-Fairbanks.
David Deputy is in his first season in the NAHL and currently leads the Philadelphia Rebels with 23 points. His talent started to turn heads and he recently committed to play Division I for RIT.

The game schedule:

  • Monday, Feb. 6: South vs. Midwest, noon CT; East vs. Central, 3 p.m. CT
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7: Central vs. South, 10 a.m. CT; Midwest vs. East, 1 p.m. CT

Steve Howard of the Austin Bruins, assisted by Scott Langer of the Aberdeen Wings, will coach the Central Division squad. The East Division will be coached by Clint Mylymok of the Maryland Black Bears and assisted by Craig Doremus of the New Jersey Titans. The Minnesota Wilderness is among the teams sending four players and its head coach will be leading the Midwest Division. Brett Skinner, assisted by Dave Allison of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs, will be behind the bench. In the South Division, Dan Wildfong of the Lone Star Brahmas will be the head coach and Garrett Roth of the Oklahoma Warriors is the assistant.

Weekly stars

Chase LaPinta of the Minot Minotauros has been named Central Division Star of the Week for the second time in a row. He had six points in three games against the St. Cloud Norsemen, recording a hat trick on Saturday.

In the East, New Jersey Titans forward Michael Young , last month's forward of the month, had a six-point series against Johnstown to earn the weekly honor. Young has 34 points through 26 games.

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Goaltender Dylan Johnson earned the Midwest Star of the Week, stopping 51 of 54 shots across two victories for the Janesville Jets. He's 4-4-0 with a 2.76 goals against average and a .901 save percentage on the season.

Logan Heroux , a defenseman for Shreveport, had two goals and two assists and helped lead the Mudbugs to their sixth straight win. The South Division Star of the Week scored the game-winner on Saturday in a 6-1 victory over the El Paso Rhinos.

NAHL Combines begin in March

Five NAHL Combines will take place this spring, beginning with the St. Louis combine March 24-26. Other combines are Middleton, N.J. (March 31-April 2), Columbus, Ohio (April 14-16), Anaheim, Calif. (April 28-30) and Attleboro, Mass. (May 5-7).

Plays of the Week

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What to read next
The team will be known as the Colorado Grit and compete in the South Division starting in the 2023-24 season.