Blaine, MN- The Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks opened the 2022 NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN, playing the Kenai River Brown Bears for the first time in program history. Kenai got the early jump and started the week and their season with a 6-0 score.
Kenai notched at least one goal in all three of the periods at the National Sports Center’s Super Rink, starting with a goal from Tokyo, Japan, native Kotaro Tsutsumi in the last two minutes of the first period.
Danbury outshot the Brown Bears 16-13 in the second period and had two power play opportunities. Kenai goaltender Nils Wallstrom stopped all 16 shots in the frame, killed both of the Danbury power play chances, and his offense recorded three goals in the stanza. Hayden Walters went first at 8:57 of the frame on an unassisted goal. Ryan Finch scored the next one on the first power play goal surrendered by the Hat Tricks in 12 penalty kill attempts. Hayden Walters ended the scoring outburst with his second goal of the period at 16:55 of the frame.
Kenai tacked on two more goals in the final period. Defenseman Caleb Huffman scored his first goal of his NAHL career and third point of the game 10:58 into the period. Mason Wharton ended the scoring at 17:31 of the frame to make the final score 6-0 in his NAHL debut. Brown Bear goaltender Nils Wallstrom stopped all 29 shots faced for a shutout in his debut on North American ice. The Skelleftea, Sweden, native had played his previous junior hockey in his native country.
Danbury goaltender Adam Johnson (’02) stopped 35 of 41 shots faced. The Chicago, IL, native has faced 125 shots across his first three games of the season, the most any NAHL goaltender has faced in the young season. And among goalies with multiple starts, Johnson has the third highest save percentage in the league at .928.
The Jr. Hat Tricks will look to rebound on Thursday in game two of the week long showcase against the Minot Minotauros. This will be the first time the Hat Tricks and Minotauros will face off in program history. Minot dropped their season opener on Wednesday to the Oklahoma Warriors 7-3.
Connor McDonough (’04) will make his season debut between the pipes for the Hat Tricks against Minot.
Puck drops at 11 AM CT, 12 AM ET at the Super Rink in Blaine, MN.