Two additional members of the 2011-12 Pittsburgh Viper Stars 18U AAA hockey club have been tabbed for play in the North American Junior Hockey League (NAHL) for the 2012-2013 season. Alex Baskakov, a senior at Canon McMillan High School, has signed a tender to skate for the Springfield (IL) Jr. Blues, and Joseph Bender, a senior at Mars Area High School, was selected in the sixth round of the NAHL Entry Draft by the Johnstown (PA) Tomahawks.
A 6’1”, 185 lbs., defenseman, Baskakov will have an opportunity to skate next season in Springfield, for new Jr. Blues new head coach Tony Zasowski. The Blues, who finished the 2011-12 season in third place in the NAHL’s Mid-West Division, qualified for the NAHL’s post-season playoffs, advancing to the division finals before falling to the St. Louis Bandits 3-1 in a best of five division finals.
Baskakov, who skated for the 18U Viper Stars for the past two seasons, is a native of Ufa, Russia. He helped lead the 18U AAA Viper Stars during the 2011-12 season to a 1st place finish in the 17-team North American Prospects Hockey League (PHL) regular season, with an 19-2-0-1 record. During the 2011-2012 season, Baskakov scored 57 points (11 goals and 46 assists) in 64 games, helping the
Viper Stars to an overall record of 52-19-5-1. He finished the 2011-12 North American Prospects Hockey
League (PHL) season as the second leading scorer among defenseman in league play with 27 points (3 goals and 24 assists), in 26 league games played, and was named to the PHL second team league all-star team.
Bender a 5’11”, 165 lbs., forward, will have an opportunity to skate next season in Johnstown, for the
Tomahawks inaugural season under new head coach Jason Spence. The Tomahawks name is the new moniker for the former Alaska Avalanche who relocated to Johnstown from Palmer, Alaska beginning with the upcoming 2012-13 season. This past season, the Avalanche who finished the 2011-12 season in third place in the NAHL’s West Division, qualified for the NAHL’s post-season playoffs falling to the Wenatchee (WA) Wild 3-2 including an over-time game loss in game five of a best of five division semi-finals.
During the 2011-12 season, Bender scored 43 points (18 goals and 25 assists) in 69 games for the AAA 18U Viper Stars. He finished the 2011-2012 North American Prospects Hockey League (PHL) season with 14 points (5 goals and 9 assists), in 23 league games. A Mars, PA, resident, Bender was selected in the sixth round of the NAHL’s Annual Entry Draft on Thursday, May 31, 2012. He helped lead the 2011-12 18U Viper Stars to the a final season record of 52 – 19 – 5 – 1, placing them 1st in the nation in wins; capture the regular season title of the NAPHL and finish as runner-up in the NAPHL Playoffs; win the prestigious Midget AAA Steel City Cup Tournament; and finish as runner-up in the Mid-American District Championships.
Baskakov and Bender join Viper Stars teammates Elliott Tisdale and Robert Tritschler (Jamestown Ironmen), Jake Pilewicz (Minot Minotaurus), Heinz Koster (Aberdeen Wings), Jake Hetz (Fairbanks Ice Dogs), and Austin Heakins (Port Huron Fighting Falcons) in being tabbed by NAHL clubs for the 2012-13 season.