Nieto named NAHL Goaltender of the Month
The Fairbanks Ice Dogs held firm atop the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Midwest Division standings with a 6-0-1 record in December, and Yorba Linda’s Gavin Nieto was a big part of the equation.
The red-hot goaltender posted a perfect 6-0 record during the month and, to top things off, he made his NCAA Division I commitment to Brown University.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pound Nieto faced a total of 138 shots in December and made 130 saves, good for a .942 save percentage and a 1.33 goal-against average. That included a shutout over the Kenai River Brown Bears on Dec. 5.
“I owe a lot to my teammates, because they were great all month long,” said Nieto, 19. “Whenever there was a loose puck or a rebound, they always seemed to be there to help me out.
“I think our success in the month of December was an all-around team effort.”
For the season, Nieto, who grew up playing for the Anaheim Jr. Ducks, West Valley Wolves, California Wave and Los Angeles Jr. Kings, currently leads the NAHL in goals-against average (1.85), is tied for second in wins (16) and ranks in the top 10 in save percentage.
“Gavin had a very good month, provided the team leadership, made timely saves and excelled in situations for his team to have success,” Ice Dogs head coach Trevor Stewart added, “and he was rewarded for his efforts with an opportunity to play Division I college hockey.”
As for his commitment to Brown, Nieto is excited to reach the next level, but first plans to make the most of his last few months with the Ice Dogs.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play NCAA Division I hockey, so when (Brown) showed an interest, it was a pretty easy decision for me given their academic and athletic reputation,” he said.
“Now I’m going to focus on being a better goalie the rest of the season so we can hopefully bring a (NAHL championship) back to Fairbanks.”