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Thunderbirds graduate Ortega chosen NCHC Player of the Month

 

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University of Nebraska-Omaha senior forward Austin Ortega has been named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s (NCHC) Player of the Month for December.

It is the second monthly award for Ortega, who picked up the same hardware in December of 2014.

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Ortega led the NCHC in scoring in December with five goals and five assists for 10 points in six games.  By virtue of that production, he moved atop the NCHC scoring chart for all games played with 27 points.

The Escondido, Calif., native opened the month with an assist in a 3-3 tie at Wisconsin on Dec. 2.  The following night, he registered his first career hat trick, added an assist, was plus-3 and had three shot blocks in a 7-4 win against the Badgers. He earned NCHC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his performance at Wisconsin.  The following weekend, Ortega recorded an assist and was plus-1 in a 3-1 win at St. Cloud State before being held off the board the next night in a 4-2 loss, Omaha’s only setback of the month.

Ortega returned from the holiday break with the game-winning goal and a plus-3 rating in a 4-1 win over Lake Superior State. With the goal, he tied the NCAA record with his 23rd career game-winning goal. He finished the month with a goal, two assists and a plus-1 rating in a 5-3 win over the Lakers.

In addition to leading the NCHC in points, he is tied for first with 14 goals, sits in a four-way tie for fourth with 13 assists, is tied with teammates David Pope and Tyler Vesel for first with 11 power-play points and is in a five-way tie for second with three game winners.

Ortega played part of his youth career for the Colorado Thunderbirds.

Photo/Mark Kuhlmann