AHL names award winners for December

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Bridgeport Sound Tigers forward Kieffer Bellows, Utica Comets defenseman Brogan Rafferty and Chicago Wolves goaltender Oscar Dansk have been selected as the league’s award winners for December.

Bellows, the CCM/AHL Player of the Month, scored 10 goals in 11 games for Bridgeport last month, including the first hat trick of his pro career.

Bellows began the month by scoring a goal in the Sound Tigers’ 5-4 shootout win at Utica on Dec. 6. He scored the winning goal in a 4-3 victory over the Comets on Dec. 13, and sparked a third-period comeback with a goal in Bridgeport’s eventual 3-2 win over Syracuse on Dec. 18. Bellows notched the decisive goal in a 3-0 decision over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Dec. 21, and his three goals in the third period against Springfield on Dec. 28 helped the Sound Tigers earn a point in a 4-3 overtime loss. Eight of Bellows’ 10 goals in December either tied the game or gave Bridgeport a lead.

A first-round choice (19th overall) by the New York Islanders in the 2016 NHL Draft, Bellows has 13 goals and 16 points in 33 games with Bridgeport this season. The 21-year-old native of Edina, Minn., has already surpassed the 12 goals he scored as a rookie in 2018-19, and now has 25 goals and 10 assists for 35 points in 106 career AHL outings with the Sound Tigers.

Rafferty, the CCM/AHL Rookie of the Month, registered three goals and 13 assists for 16 points in 13 games played during December.

Rafferty notched two assists in Utica’s 5-3 loss at Toronto on Dec. 1, then recorded a goal and two assists in the third period of a 6-3 win at Bridgeport on Dec. 9. He dished out two more assists to help the Comets past Toronto, 6-4, on Dec. 11, and he picked up a goal and two assists as Utica defeated Laval, 5-3, on Dec. 20. A two-assist effort in a 4-3 win at Rochester on Dec. 21 marked Rafferty’s third consecutive multiple-point game and his sixth overall during December, and he closed out the month with a goal in a 3-2 victory over the Americans on Dec. 31.

Rafferty ranks third in the entire AHL with 25 assists, leads all league defensemen with 30 points and is first among AHL rookies with a plus-17 rating in 34 games with the Comets this season. The 24-year-old native of West Dundee, Ill., signed as a free agent with Vancouver on Apr. 1, 2019, following his junior season at Quinnipiac University and made his pro debut with the Canucks, appearing in two NHL games late in 2018-19.

Dansk, the CCM/AHL Goaltender of the Month, was 7-0-0 in his seven starts during December, stopping 183 of 194 shots for a 1.57 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.

Dansk allowed two goals or fewer in six of his seven appearances last month, beginning with a 28-save effort in a 5-2 win at Grand Rapids on Dec. 4. He made 21 stops in a 3-2 overtime victory over Milwaukee on Dec. 14, and recorded a career-high 41 saves to lead Chicago to a 2-1 win over Texas on Dec. 21. Dansk stopped 25 shots in a 4-3 win at Iowa on Dec. 28 before finishing the month with a 20-save shutout in a 2-0 decision at Grand Rapids on New Year’s Eve.

Dansk is 11-6-0 with a 2.75 GAA, a .903 save percentage and two shutouts in 18 appearances for the Wolves this season. The 25-year-old native of Stockholm, Sweden, has played 99 career AHL games with Chicago and Springfield with a record of 58-25-13, a 2.73 GAA, a .905 save percentage and five shutouts. Originally a second-round selection (31st overall) by Columbus in the 2012 NHL Draft, Dansk joined Vegas as a free agent on July 3, 2017, and has made five career NHL appearances with the Golden Knights, going 3-1-0 (2.88, .915) with one shutout.

Each monthly award winner will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming home game in recognition of his achievement.