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Augustana recruit/former Thunderhawk Joey Delgreco named NAHL MVP and Rookie of the Year

Joey Delgreco earns 2 top honors, Vikings recruit takes home Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's top honor after leading league in GAA, save percentage. Will Howard of New Mexico named all-division

Joey DelGreco.jpg
Joey DelGreco of the Oklahoma Warriors has been named the North American Hockey League Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. DelGreco, a 19-year-old forward from Grand Rapids, Minn., is Augustana University recruit.

Editor's note: This story was updated on at 3:57 p.m. May 11.

Augustana University men's hockey recruit Joey Delgreco, a former Grand Rapids High School star, has been named the North American Hockey League's Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year on Thursday, May 11. Another Augustana recruit has earned top honors for a goalie in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

Delgreco, a 19-year-old forward from Grand Rapids, Minn., was third in the NAHL in assists (47), third in points (69), tied for third in power-play assists (20) and was tied for ninth in plus/minus (plus-27) in 58 regular season games. He led NAHL rookies in assists and points. He had 13 more assists than the next rookie in the league.

Delgreco, an All-NAHL First Team pick, led the Oklahoma Warriors to the best record in the league (44-14-1-1, 90 points) during the regular season. Oklahoma has a 2-0 lead over the Shreveport Mudbugs in the best-of-five South Division championship series. The Warriors can wrap up the series with a win at 7:11 p.m. Friday in Shreveport.

Joey DelGreco is the third former Grand Rapids player to verbally commit to play for the new NCAA Division I program.

Delgreco is tied for fourth in points (7) in the NAHL playoffs in five games. Delgreco was a top 10 finalist for Mr. Hockey in Minnesota as a senior at Grand Rapids High School when he had 25 goals and 68 points in 28 games for the Thunderhawks.


He verbally committed to the Vikings in November.

Vikings recruit is top SJHL goalie

Augustana recruit Josh Kotai was named the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Goaltender of the Year.

Kotai, a 20-year-old from Abbotsford, British Columbia, led the league in wins (32), goals-against average (2.39) and save percentage (.935) in 39 regular season games. His three shutouts were tied for third in the league.

In the playoffs, Kotai, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds, went 12-1 with a 1.72 GAA, .945 save percentage and three shutouts in 13 games. He helped the Battlefords North Stars win the league's Canterra Seeds Cup as playoff champion.

In Canada, the playoffs do not end with the league championships. Battlefords will play for the Centennial Cup in Portage, Manitoba. The Centennial Cup is the Junior A national championship in Canada. Battlefords plays the Kam River Fighting Walleye in the opening round Thursday.

Will Howard 3.jpeg
Will Howard has verbally committed to play for the Augustana University hockey team in the fall of 2023-24. Howard is playing in his third junior hockey season for the New Mexico Ice Wolves of the North American Hockey League.

Will Howard named All-South Division

Delgreco is not the lone Augustana recuit to be honored by the NAHL.


Will Howard, a 20-year-old forward from Grand Forks, was also named to the All-South Division First Team. Howard, playing in his third season with the New Mexico Ice Wolves, had a breakthrough season.

Howard tied for third in the NAHL in goals (32) and power-play goals (12), tied for second in game-winning goals (7) and had a team-leading 54 points and was a plus-21 in 60 games. The Ice Wolves finished one point out of the playoffs.

As a rookie in the NAHL in 2020-21, Howard had two goals, four points and was a minus-12 in 31 games. His second season, he had 18 goals and 42 points in 56 games and helped New Mexico reach the Robertson Cup semifinals.

Here is some more perspective on Howard's big season: as a senior for Grand Forks Central High School, he had 12 goals and 32 points in 27 games.

The 20-year-old is in his third season playing for the New Mexico Ice Wolves of the NAHL. His father, Tarek Howard, played defense for the University of North Dakota from 1983-87.

Howard committed to Augustana in October.

Bischoff to play for Clark Cup

Another Augustana recruit and former Grand Rapids High School alum, Hunter Bischoff, has helped the Youngstown Phantoms reach the United States Hockey League's Clark Cup Finals.

Bishoff, a 20-year-old forward from Cohasset, Minn., had four goals, 10 points and was a plus-4 in 55 regular season games for Youngstown. He has played in six playoff games for Youngstown, which advanced to the Clark Cup Finals with an overtime win Tuesday.

Bischoff is no stranger to juniors playoff success in the postseason. He helped the Anchorage Wolverines reach the NAHL's Robertson Cup championship game last season.


In June, Bischoff became the first player to verbally commit to play for Augustana, which will play its inaugural season in 2023-24.

Hunter Bischoff.jpg
Wing Hunter Bischoff had 18 goals and 43 points in 66 games for the North American Hockey League's Anchorage Wolverines in 2021-22. Bischoff recently verbally committed to play for Augustana University.

Meerman has big season in AJHL

Augustana recruit Brett Meerman had a big season for the Blackfalds Bulldogs in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Meerman, a 21-year-old forward from Blackfalds, Alberta, finished second in the AJHL in assists (64) and points (94), fourth in power-play assists (31), sixth in power-play goals (14) and tied for ninth in goals (30) in 60 regular season games.

Brett Meerman played for the expansion Blackfalds Bulldogs in the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season. He is tied for the league lead in points (17) and leads it in power-play assists (8) through 10 games.

Meerman also had six goals and 15 points in 16 playoff games for the Bulldogs, who reached the South Division Finals.

Meerman committed to the Vikings in October.

Mick Hatten is a reporter and editor for Forum News Service and helps manage TheRinkLive.com, a website dedicated to hockey. He began working for Forum Communications in November 2018 and has covered St. Cloud State University hockey since 2010. A graduate of St. Cloud State, he has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist and has been a youth hockey coach since 2014. mhatten@forumcomm.com

For more coverage of St. Cloud and the surrounding communities, check out St. Cloud Live.
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