Juuse Saros Named AHL Goaltender of the Month

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)
(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

First came the Admiral of the Month distinction. Now comes one from the league itself. Juuse Saros has just been named the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month for his performance in the month of March.

Press Release via AHL:

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins right wing Carter Rowney, Providence Bruins center Frank Vatrano and Milwaukee Admirals goaltender Juuse Saros have been selected as the league’s award winners for March.

Rowney, the CCM/AHL Player of the Month, tallied seven goals and 10 assists for a league-high 17 points along with a plus-8 rating in 12 games for the Penguins, who closed in on a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs.

Rowney notched all 17 points during a nine-game scoring streak that ran from Mar. 5-25. He recorded his first career hat trick on Mar. 6, scoring once at even strength, once on the power play and once shorthanded to lead Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a 5-4 win over Hershey. On the morning of Mar. 9, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced they had signed Rowney to his first NHL contract; he celebrated that night with two goals and an assist – including the overtime winner, in Wilkes-Barre’s 6-5 defeat of Lehigh Valley. Rowney later registered two assists on Mar. 12 vs. Bridgeport for his third consecutive multiple-point effort, picked up three helpers in a 6-5 OT win at Hershey on Mar. 20, and scored the game-winning goal in a 5-0 shutout of Binghamton on Mar. 23.

A third-year pro from Sexsmith, Alta., Rowney has set career highs in goals (21), assists (31) and points (52) for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this season, and his plus-26 rating ranks second among all AHL forwards. Rowney, who played four seasons at the University of North Dakota, has skated in 158 career regular-season games in the AHL, totaling 34 goals and 54 assists for 88 points, and has added two goals and four assists in 15 Calder Cup Playoff contests.

In recognition of his achievement, Rowney will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Penguins home game.

Also see: Past winners, AHL Player of the Month

Vatrano, the CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month, found the scoresheet in all eight AHL games he played last month, totaling eight goals and five assists for 13 points while maintaining his remarkable scoring pace for the season.

Vatrano’s month was highlighted by his performance vs. Portland on Mar. 6, when he became just the third player in AHL history to score three unassisted goals in a single game; he completed the hat trick – his third in the AHL and fourth overall this season – with the winning goal in a 4-3 overtime decision. On Mar. 11 vs. Hartford, Vatrano scored the tying goal in the final minute of regulation, and he picked up a goal and two assists on Mar. 13 vs. Utica. He scored again on Mar. 19 at Toronto and Mar. 20 at Rochester before earning another recall to the parent Boston Bruins on Mar. 22.

Vatrano leads the American Hockey League with 33 goals despite appearing in just 33 games for Providence this season, and his 49 points are tied for sixth among AHL rookies. The 22-year-old native of East Longmeadow, Mass., is also pacing all AHL rookies in power-play goals (12) and shots on goal (172), and owns a team-best plus-17 rating as well. Vatrano signed as a free agent with Boston on Mar. 13, 2015, and has seven goals and three assists in 34 NHL games this season.

In recognition of his achievement, Vatrano will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Bruins home game.

Also see: Past winners, AHL Rookie of the Month

In eight appearances last month, Saros, the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month, went 7-1-0 with a 1.61 goals-against average, a .936 save percentage and two shutouts, lifting the Admirals into first place in the tight Central Division.

Saros began the month by stopping 25 shots and both shootout attempts in Milwaukee’s 4-3 win at Lake Erie on Mar. 3, then made 22 saves as the Admirals shut out Chicago, 1-0, in overtime on Mar. 5. Saros earned his sixth consecutive winning decision on Mar. 11, turning aside 23 of 25 shots in a 4-2 win over Iowa, and earned his fourth shutout of the season on Mar. 23 with 28 saves in the Admirals’ 2-0 victory at Texas.

A 20-year-old rookie from Forssa, Finland, Saros has appeared in 32 games with Milwaukee this season (24-7-0) and ranks fourth in the AHL with a 2.22 goals-against average to go with a .920 save percentage and four shutouts. Saros was a fourth-round pick by Nashville in the 2013 Entry Draft, and made his NHL debut with the Predators on Nov. 28, 2015, vs. Buffalo.

In recognition of his achievement, Saros will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming Admirals home game.

Also see: Past winners, AHL Goaltender of the Month

I spoke in great length about Saros’ month of March during the Admiral of the Month award talk yesterday but the short and sweet of it is this. In March the Admirals logged fourteen games to match a season high for games played in a month. During that time Saros took eight of the Admirals fourteen games in net and responded with a 7-1-0-0 record, 1.61 goals against average, 0.936 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. He was lights out and played his most calm and composed hockey to date in his first full-season of professional hockey in North America.

Of note, I attended practice this afternoon and just so happened to be conducting interviews as this news was about to be announced. I had the chance to speak with Saros and this is what he had to say:

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3 thoughts on “Juuse Saros Named AHL Goaltender of the Month”

  1. It’s going to be quite interesting to see what the Preds do with the goalie situation next season. Both Hutton and Maz are up after this season. Does either get signed again? Would Maz be willing to sign if he was expected to pay in the A again? Hutton has played relatively well this year. It wouldn’t be a popular decision, but do they give him another year?

  2. FITF: The Nashville Predators organization is dirt cheap. If they can sign Mazanec for five cents less than Hutton they’d take Mazanec. I could see that happening with Janne Juvonen making the leap to the AHL should he sign his entry level contract.

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