BUFFALO, N.Y. – Niagara freshman Ludwig Stenlund has been named the Atlantic Hockey Association Rookie of the Year at the conference’s annual tournament reception at the Buffalo Marriott HarborCenter. The university’s team as a whole was also honored with the AHA’s Team Sportsmanship Award.
Stenlund is the first Purple Eagle to win Atlantic Hockey’s top freshman honor, and the fourth to be named a conference Rookie of the Year. Cook and Reaney shared the award in 2006 and Chris Moran following suit in 2007 while Niagara was a member of College Hockey America.
After being selected to the league’s All-Rookie Team on March 13, Stenlund was named best in his class following a record-setting season. With five points (2 G, 3 A) against Air Force in the quarterfinal round, Stenlund became the highest scoring freshman in program history, surpassing the goals (20) total set by Ted Cook and the points (40) total jointly set by Cook and Les Reaney in 2005-06.
Stenlund made an immediate impact with the Purple Eagles, scoring twice – including the overtime game-winner – against AIC on opening night. He proceeded to go on a tear in the month of November (3 G, 5 A) and earned an AHA Rookie of the Week Award, NCAA Third Star of the Week, and the AHA Rookie of the Month for his eight-point performance. The Swedish rookie’s November included six points (3 G, 3 A) in the Battle of the Bridge against Canisius, with a two-goal, two-assist night capping off the weekend in a thrilling, 9-6 victory over the Golden Griffins on November 17.
In January, Stenlund went on a scoring spree that was unprecedented at Niagara. Beginning with a two-point (1 G, 1 A) night against Holy Cross on January 11, the freshman scored at least once in eight consecutive games. He tied the program record of five straight games with a goal on February 1, then surpassed Ryan Murphy’s seven-year-old mark the following day in Springfield against the Yellow Jackets. When his streak came to a close, Stenlund had amassed nine goals and five assists in just eight games. For his efforts, Stenlund was named the AHA’s January Rookie of the Month for the second time, and also became the second freshman in program history to earn Hockey Commissioners’ Association Rookie of the Month honors.
Stenlund’s February saw him score eight times in nine games while adding four assists for a 12-point month. Those tallies included four power play goals and a shorthanded strike, and Atlantic Hockey recognized him as the conference’s Rookie of the Week on February 5 and named him February’s Player of the Month on March 5.
Stenlund finished the regular season leading the nation’s freshmen with 19 goals, nine power play goals, 34 points and three shorthanded goals. Following the team’s first-round takedown of Canisius, he now has 20 goals and 16 assists in 37 games, including 10 power play goals (most among all Division I skaters).
The sixth-seeded Purple Eagles meet No. 5 RIT on Friday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinal round of the Atlantic Hockey playoffs. The game marks Niagara’s return to the conference final four since the 2012-13 season.