Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - Submitted by Bernard McNamara
CBR Brave defender Jan Safar has been named the AIHL’s Defenceman of the Year for a second straight season.
Despite an off-season team change, which saw him move from the Newcastle North Stars to the CBR Brave, Safar continued his dominance from the blue line, leading all defenceman in scoring with 33 points (7 goals 26 assist) in just 18 games.
“He’s been massive for us all year,” CBR Brave Captain Jordan Gavin said. “Having a guy of Jan’s calibre and experience in the dressing room was huge. He’s a proven winner and he plays with an intensity and drive every time he steps on the ice.”
Safar’s addition proved invaluable for the Brave this year, he logged big minutes on a nightly basis as one of the Braves top pairing defenceman, as well as quarterbacking the teams power play unit.
Safar’s most significant contribution came in 2016 AIHL Final series, when he scored the overtime winning goal against the Melbourne Ice in the first semi-final, propelling the Brave into their first ever Goodall Cup final.
“He went from villain to hero in the overtime period,” Gavin said. “He was serving a penalty and when it expired he popped out on the halfway line. When he got the puck we were just screaming shoot it, he only had one place to put it and he buried it. It was very emotional on the bench”
In just two seasons in the AIHL, Safar has established himself as one of the most offensively gifted defenders the league has ever seen.
His speed through the neutral zone and crisp passing, means he creates time and space for his team mates as well being a goal scoring threat every time he touches the puck.
In 46 AIHL career games, Safar has recorded a staggering 89 points (18 goal, 71 assists), at a rate of just under two points per game, a dizzying statistic which would make most forwards envious.