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Two local hockey players tabbed for NAHL

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Canon-Mac's Alex Baskakov signs tender while Joseph Bender of Mars is selected in draft

Two additional members of the 2011-2012 Pittsburgh Viper Stars 18U AAA hockey club have been tabbed for play in the North American Junior Hockey League (NAHL) for the 2012-2013 season.

Alex Baskakov, a senior at Canon McMillan High School, has signed a tender to skate for the Springfield (IL) Blues, and Joseph Bender, a senior at Mars Area High School, was selected in the sixth round of the NAHL Entry Draft by the Johnstown (PA) Tomahawks.

A 6’1”, 185 lbs., defenseman, Baskakov will have an opportunity to skate next season in Springfield, for new Jr. A Blues new head coach Tony Zasowski.  The Blues, who finished the 2011-12 season in third place in the NAHL’s Mid-West Division, qualified for the NAHL’s post-season playoffs, advancing to the division finals before falling to the St. Louis Bandits 3 games to 1 in a best of five division finals.

Baskakov, who skated for the 18U Viper Stars for the past two seasons, is a native of Ufa, Russia.  He helped lead the 18U AAA Viper Stars during the 2011-12 season to a first place finish in the 17-team North American Prospects Hockey League (PHL) regular season, with an 19-2-0-1 record.

During the 2011-2012 season, Baskakov scored 57 points (11 goals and 46 assists) in 64 games, helping the Viper Stars to an overall record of 52-19-5-1.  He finished the 2011-12 North American Prospects Hockey League (PHL) season as the second leading scorer among defenseman in league play with 27 points (3 goals and 24 assists), in 26 league games played, and was named to the PHL second team league all-star team.

Baskakov scored 70 points (14 goals and 56 assists) in 64 games during the 2010-11 season, helping the 18U AAA Viper Stars to an overall record of 50-20-3-6.  He finished the 2010-11 North American Prospects Hockey League season as the second leading scorer among defenseman in the PHL league play with 28 points (6 goals and 22 assists), in 30 league games and was named to the PHL first team league all-star team.

Bender a 5’11”, 165 lbs., forward, will have an opportunity to skate next season in Johnstown, for the Tomahawks inaugural season under new head coach Jason Spence.  The Tomahawks name is the new moniker for the former Alaska Avalanche who relocated to Johnstown from Palmer, Alaska beginning with the upcoming 2012-13 season.  This past season, the Avalanche who finished the 2011-12 season in third place in the NAHL’s West Division, qualified for the NAHL’s post-season playoffs falling to the Wenatchee (WA) Wild 3 games to 2 including an over-time game loss in game five of a best of five division semi-finals.

During the 2011-12 season, Bender scored 43 points (18 goals and 25 assists) in 69 games for the AAA 18U Viper Stars.  He finished the 2011-2012 North American Prospects Hockey League (PHL) season with 14 points (5 goals and 9 assists), in 23 league games.

A Mars, PA, resident, Bender was selected in the sixth round of the NAHL’s Annual Entry Draft on Thursday, May 31, 2012.  He helped lead the 2011-12 18U Viper Stars to the a final season record of 52 – 19 – 5 – 1, placing them first in the nation in wins; capture the regular season title of the NAPHL and finish as runner-up in the NAPHL Playoffs; win the prestigious Midget AAA Steel City Cup Tournament; and finish as runner-up in the Mid-American District Championships.

Baskakov and Bender join Viper Stars teammates Elliott Tisdale and Robert Tritschler (Jamestown Ironmen), Jake Pilewicz (Minot Minotaurus), Heinz Koster (Aberdeen Wings), Jake Hetz (Fairbanks Ice Dogs), and Austin Heakins (Port Huron Fighting Falcons) in being tabbed by NAHL clubs for the 2012-13 season.

By signing a tender to an NAHL club, a contract of sorts, a player is announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only.  Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team.  Tendered players are not eligible for the NAHL draft.  All tendered and drafted players are eligible to try out for any team in any league other than the NAHL in the U.S. and Canada.

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