On Thursday, February 2nd, the NAHL announced that Andrew Clarke was named the NAHL Bauer Hockey’s Forward of the Month for January 2023. Clarke had 9 goals and 17 points (9-8-17) in 10 games in the month of January. What may be more impressive is how efficient he was as Clarke is not a volume shooter; those 9 goals came off of 19 shots on goal so over the ten-game span he scored on nearly half the shots he took that got through to the net.
It’s no surprise that Clarke’s success has led to team success, as the Norsemen were 6-3-1 in January and have put themselves back in a playoff position. While Clarke is happy for the acknowledgement, he knows that it means so much more to come while the team is also thriving. “It’s really good for us to get into a playoff spot and team success always brings individual success,” Clarke rationalizes. “We’ve just been playing really well as a team lately and I think that’s really helped out my game.”
When asked why he is having so much success as of late, Clarke doesn’t hog the spotlight but merely points out that all of the Norsemen are putting up better numbers thanks to the team finding the back of the net more often. “Just as a whole, since everyone’s been playing better as a teamm I think it just kind of helps me,” says Clarke. “It feels like the puck’s just kind of bouncing to me a little more and the game’s just coming to me easier right now, which is great.”
Clarke has been helping his team as of late but is making sure he doesn’t hurt the team either. During the month of January he took just two minor penalties and in both of those games the opponent failed to convert on not only his penalty but on all of their power play chances. The coaching staff will certainly take that tradeoff as on the other side of the coin Clarke has been deadly when the other team is in the box scoring 3 goals and 5 assists while on the power play, and he’s a big reason the Norsemen have at least one power play goal in the last ten games. That, in addition to a +9 rating, has things coming up roses for the St. Louis, MO native.
St. Cloud Norsemen Head Coach Corey Millen points out that a successful power play has been a big boost to Clarke, but so is his work ethic, particularly after battling back from illness to start the season. “Clarkie is a product of our power play, that’s certainly helping him,” Millen reasons. “He’s grown a little bit, he started off the season behind the 8-ball with mono. He’s getting his legs under him, working a little harder, playing a little better without the puck. And I think it’s translating.”
Clarke isn’t the only one who was recognized from St. Cloud as Broten Sabo was a runner up as NAHL Bauer Hockey Defenseman of the Month to Michael Neumeier of the Bismarck Bobcats. Sabo had a stat line of 1-11-12 in 10 games in January and his hot streak goes back even further than that. When the calendar hit 2023 Sabo was halfway through a 9-game point streak and he’s put up 4 goals and 21 points in the last 15 games.
This is the third season in a row that Sabo has been a key part of the Norsemen blueline, and Millen knows how much of St. Cloud’s recent success rests on the shoulders of #17. “Broten has obviously grown quite a bit as a player over the last three years. His confidence and his ability to be calm and make plays has certainly grown and it’s helped him and it’s helped us,” Millen remarks. “He needs to continue to do that for us to have success; all those little things matter for him and for us.”
Norsemen netminder Ethan Dahlmeir was an honorable mention for the NAHL Bauer Hockey Goaltender of the Month. Dahlmeir went 4-2-0 in seven games with a .937 save percentage, 1.99 goals against average and two shutouts in the month of January.
Clarke, Sabo, Dahlmeir and the rest of Norsemen are back in action this Friday and Saturday looking to keep their winning ways going while hosting the Bismarck Bobcats both nights. A five-game winning streak is on the line and tickets can be purchased online at tickets.stcloudnorsemen.com.