NAHL: Bellina ends her junior hockey career strongly with Chippewa Steel | Local sports

As a traveling veteran of the North American Hockey League, Spencer Bellina is a bit of a rarity for Chippewa Steel.

Bellina has played 50 games with three different teams this season, but is finding a foothold with Chippewa Steel entering the final two weeks of the regular season.

The 6-foot-2, 196-pound defender scored a goal in the matches at Fairbanks on March 25 and 26 and was recognized as the Midwest Division’s Star of the Week award. In total, Bellina has three goals and five assists in 15 games in Chippewa and three goals and 14 assists this year with Chippewa, El Paso and Maine.

Bellina credited that she had more of a shoot-first mentality as well as the work his teammates did around the net to help him succeed during the team’s two-week trip to Alaska.

“I think it really was the group that really came together,” Bellina said. “We had a bunch of new guys on the way, and finally it was really important to get us to click. On those trips, you’re always with the guys, so (we had) good friendships and really just kept it simple (with) that move the puck north and keep it going with lockdown D and our goalkeepers played well. ”

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Bellina joined Steel in early February after Chippewa made a series of moves ahead of the trade deadline, with the team working to get a longer look at some of its younger players.

“We knew that when we swapped a bunch of guys away by the deadline, we wanted some veteran presence,” Chippewa coach Casey Mignone said. “Originally, the plan was not to get rid of everyone. We ended up doing that, so Spencer was always in the plan to bring in. He has been a huge asset to us in terms of leadership, character, and obviously his play on the ice has been really, really good lately. “

The 20-year-old Bellina started his season with the Maine Nordiques, where he played 10 games before coming to El Paso Rhinos in November, where he logged six assists in 25 games. Bellina is the oldest player on the list and has been more than willing to share her knowledge with her young teammates.

“It means a lot. Honestly, I get goosebumps thinking about it because I’m just trying to pass on everything I have to these younger guys, so when they’s veterans they know how to treat the younger guys. , ”Said Bellina.

Bellina is also working to secure an opportunity to continue playing hockey in college, a sport that the native Medina, Ohio, has played since he was young.

“I’m excited to see what happens to him next year,” Mignone said of Bellina. “Someone will be really lucky to give him a chance to play next year.”

Bellina also played baseball as a youngster and was coached in the youth ranks by current Toronto Blue Jays team president and CEO Mark Shapiro while he was in Cleveland.

“He really taught me to be a character,” Bellina said of playing for Shapiro, “always carry yourself very highly (and) always treat everyone with respect.”

Bellina said the biggest lesson he has given the younger players is to get to the rink every day, ready to have fun and get better. The defender hopes he can continue to play in college next year, and a strong finish can help those prospects – just as it can help the young and returning list bring some momentum into the 2022-23 season.

“I think it’s important for people to know that Chippewa will make a big push here in the end, and next year they will get even better,” Bellina said. “I really appreciate everything they have done for me. They have welcomed me with open arms and I can not thank them enough.”

Chippewa won two of his three fights in Anchorage last week over the Wolverines to end a winning road trip north. The Steel hosts Springfield Jr. Blues Thursday and Friday when the team hits the last four games of the regular season. Overall, Steel have won four of their last seven matches as a young roster has begun to find its foothold at Tier II junior hockey level – with Bellina helping along the way.

“I think we’ve been playing solid hockey for the last five weeks, and even before that the results were not there. So some guys are starting to settle into some roles and play well,” Mignone said. any of the teams want to play against us when they come down the stretch. They kind of expected that we might be out of the playoffs and potentially roll over, but that’s not the message from the group. We have played extremely hard and I also expect to see it the last four games. “

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