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Former Nichols standout in contention for NCAA hockey scoring title

The award nominations keep piling up for Andrew Poturalski. First came the ballot spot for the Hobey Baker Award. Then came the nomination for the Walter Brown Award presented to the best American-born college hockey player in New England.

The Williamsville native and Nichols graduate politely accepts the congratulations then quickly credits his linemates at the University of New Hampshire – left winger Dan Correale and right winger Tyler Kelleher.

“I think my line is clicking well,” Poturalski said. “We played together last year and once we started up again this year we just kept clicking. They give me a lot of opportunities and I make the most of it.”

That’s a bit of an understatement. Poturalski, a sophomore center for the Wildcats, ranks second in the country in scoring with 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists), trailing Michigan’s Kyle Conner, a draft pick of Winnipeg, who has 42 points. Poturlaski ranks first in power-play points with 18, including seven power play goals.

“I try not to focus on that too much,” Poturalski said about being one of the NCAA leaders in scoring. “I hear it and see it around but as players you focus on what you’re doing and what you can do to help the team.”

Helping the team included picking up an assist last weekend in a 3-1 win over No. 6 Providence. That stopped a seven-game losing streak for New Hampshire. The Wildcats are tied for ninth in Hockey East at 3-7-4 in conference play and 9-13-4 overall.

“We need to keep working on our defensive zone and on getting better in little things to compete every night, just like we did last weekend against Providence,” Poturalski said. “I think that’s big for our confidence as a whole and hopefully we can build off this weekend.”

Confidence has been a key for Poturalski. As a freshman he scored 14 goals, two on the power play, and finished with 29 points.

“From last year I’ve improved a lot in the defensive zone,” he said. “I think I’m starting to play better without the puck and move my feet more without the puck. Confidence is a big thing. Coach has given me more opportunities and I try to make the most out of every one. My confidence is a lot better.”

Confidence will need to combine with execution for New Hampshire this weekend as the Wildcats play at No. 4 Boston College and No. 8 UMass-Lowell.

A glance at some of the other Western New Yorkers playing Division I men’s hockey:

Andrew Black, Buffalo. Junior forward at Colgate. Has two assists in 19 games.

Chris Bradley, Williamsville. Senior defenseman at RPI. The captain has five points (one goal) in 28 games.

Joseph Cecconi, Youngstown. Freshman defenseman at Michigan. The 18-year old was drafted in the fifth round by Dallas in 2015. Has five assists in 23 games for Michigan.

Nick DeSimone, East Amherst. Sophomore defenseman at Union. Has 15 points, including three goals.

Michael Ederer, Lancaster. Freshman forward at St. Lawrence. Has two goals in 16 games.

RJ Gicewicz, Orchard Park. Freshman defenseman at St. Lawrence. Has two assists in six games.

Dennis Gilbert, Williamsville. Freshman defenseman at Notre Dame. Has 10 points. including two goals (one on the power play), in 26 games.

Justin Hussar, Lancaster. Senior forward at Merrimack. Has five goals (a career-best) and 12 points in 26 games.

Alex Iafallo, Eden. Junior forward at Minnesota-Duluth. Has three goals and seven assists in 25 games. He’s still looking for his first power-play goal after combining for seven his freshmen and sophomore years.

Christian Lampasso, Amherst. Sophomore forward at Ohio State. Has two assists in 17 games.

Steven Racine, Williamsville. Senior goaltender at Michigan. In 16 games has an 11-1-2 record with a 3.03 goals against average and .908 save percentage. He was in net as Michigan swept Penn State last weekend.

James Roll, West Seneca. Freshman defenseman at Lake Superior State. Has one goal (a power-play tally) and six assists in 23 games.

Andrew Sturtz, Buffalo. Freshman forward at Penn State. Has 13 goals and five assists in 26 games.

email: amoritz@buffnews.com