NCDC 2023-24 New England Division Players Of The Month: December 2023

Summaries By Joshua Boyd / 


Forward: Jake Kavanagh, South Shore Kings

The ‘05 from Montreal, Que., just continues his absolutely electrifying rookie junior season coming out of Choate Rosemary Hall. During the month of December, the recently-named All-Star Game selection put up 1.5 points per game, ringing up three goals and six assists for nine points. Seven of his points came from a two-game stretch between Dec. 8 and 14 when he put up a 1-2-3 line against the Islanders Hockey Club, and then he put up a 1-3-4 mark against the Northern Cyclones. He had the second most faceoff wins on the Kings in December with 74 (on 126 faceoffs for a 59 percent success rate in the circle) and he was a +5, second best among Kings forwards. For the season, he has 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in 26 games. 


Forward: Kotaro Murase, South Shore Kings

The Japan native’s own 3-6-9 month actually catapulted him just above Kavanagh on the overall Kings scoring leaderboard, giving him 30 points off 10 goals and 20 assists. He registered multiple points in four of his six December games, including three in a row between Dec. 8 and 17. A two-time member of Japan’s World Junior Championship teams, he won a Gold Medal at the Division 1 Group B level in 2022, which helped this year’s 2023-24 team earn a promotion to Division 1 Group A. 


Forward: Shane Baker, Boston Junior Bruins

Another All-Star Game participant, Baker (‘04/Grafton, Mass.) was our third Forward of the Month that matched the same standard as his colleagues from the Kings, putting up three goals and six assists for nine points in six games. He scored points in four of his six December games, with the highlight being a hat trick plus an assist for four points and the game-winning goal on Dec. 15 against the Islanders Hockey Club. His 21:30 of average ice time per game led all forwards, and he was also aces in the faceoff circle with 87 wins. Defensively, his 33 takeaways ranked first among Junior Bruins forwards.  

Baker now has 29 points in 24 games this season, and he has 93 career points. He is five points away from being in the NCDC Junior Bruins’ top five all-time leaderboard. 


Defense: Salvatore Cerrato, South Shore Kings

The second-year Kings blueliner Cerrato (‘04/St. Louis, Mo.) has long since blown past the 15 points he posted from 40 games in 2022-23. This year, he has 24 points already in 25 games for this season. He was helped along by posting four goals and adding two assists for six points in six games in December. He led the Kings in plus-minus with a +9, and his 59 takeaways and 29 shots on goal also led the way for South Shore last month. Cerrato has goals in four straight games and is on an active four-game scoring streak with his six points. 


Defense: Cody Plaza, Islanders Hockey Club 

Plaza (‘03/Danvers, Mass.) posted a pair of goals and added three assists for five points through eight games during the month of December, while also being a defensive stalwart for the Islanders. He led the team in takeaways (52) and plus-minus (+8) for the past month. For the season, he has nine points meaning his December output represented the bulk of his production so far. Plaza is a second-year junior defenseman who played in the Eastern Hockey League last year before making the jump up to the NCDC. 


Goaltender: Garrett Simpson, Boston Junior Bruins 

Simpson (‘04/Cincinnati, Ohio) had a fantastic December by going 4-2 over 360 minutes of play. He faced 234 shots and turned away 220 of those for a .940 save percentage. The former Bishop Kearney Selects goalie won four games in a row between Dec. 3 and 15, including a season-best 42 saves on 43 shots against Twin City on Dec. 8. 

This season, Simpson is 8-6-1-0 and has a 2.68 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. 


Selection Process: The league media office sends top candidates to divisional coaches for review and coaches either approve or challenge the nominations.