North Dakota’s Johnson, Michigan’s Connor pick up December HCA laurels

Cam Johnson has been a rock in the North Dakota crease this season (photo: Bradley K. Olson).

North Dakota sophomore goaltender Cam Johnson has been named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Division I Player of the Month for December, while the HCA National Rookie of the Month for December is Kyle Connor from Michigan.

Johnson was nearly perfect during the month, as he started all four of North Dakota’s games in net and allowed only one goal in 240 minutes of action while posting a 4-0-0 record. His three shutouts in December led the NCAA, as did his minuscule 0.25 GAA and his .992 save percentage for the month. Johnson’s four wins tied for the most during the month. He claimed NCHC Goaltender of the Week honors both weekends he played during the month, as well as NCHC Player of the Month for December.

Johnson, a native of Troy, Mich., racked up 118 saves on 119 shots in December, including stopping the final 114 shots he faced during the month without allowing a goal. He ended the month with a shutout streak of 218:38, which lasted into January and turned into a shutout streak of 298:25, the second-longest streak in NCAA history.

On the season, Johnson is unbeaten at 9-0-1 and leads the NCAA with a 1.07 GAA and a .957 save percentage, while his four shutouts tie for fourth nationally.

Connor led the nation with seven goals and 13 points in six games during the month of December, averaging 2.17 points per game in that span. He registered at least one point in all six games, including four multi-point efforts.

A native of Shelby Township, Mich., Connor opened the month by matching his career high with a three-point performance against Wisconsin on Dec. 4, scoring a goal and adding two assists. The following night, he capped off a four-point weekend with an assist in the series finale. Connor was even better the following weekend in a home series against Minnesota. On Dec. 11, he netted his first collegiate hat trick, including the game-winning goal, and added an assist in an 8-3 victory for the Wolverines. The hat trick was the first by a Michigan freshman since December 29, 2001. The next night, Connor scored both Michigan goals in a 3-2 loss, the only defeat suffered by the Wolverines in December. For his efforts, Connor was named the Big Ten First Star for the week.

In the opening game of the Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 29, Connor extended his goal-scoring streak to three games, netting the game-winner and adding an assist. He went on to pick up an assist in the championship game against Michigan Tech as the Wolverines won the tournament and Connor was named the Most Valuable Player.

For the season, the Winnipeg Jets’ prospect leads the nation’s freshmen in points per game (1.47), goals per game (0.71) and points (25). His overall average of 1.47 points per game this season is the most by a Michigan freshman since the 1979-80 season.