NAHL announces 2014-15 season awards
April 27, 2015
The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the remainder of its awards for the 2014-15 season. The selections are based on performance during the 2014-15 regular season, as voted upon by the league’s 24 head coaches.
The 2014-15 season awards include: All-NAHL Team, Most Valuable Player, Forward of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Vaughn Hockey Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, General Manager of the Year and Organization of the Year, along with the Apex Learning Virtual School Academic Achievement Award and Community Service Award. Here is a look at the winners:
2014-15 All-NAHL Team
Forward: Sebastian Vidmar, Lone Star Brahmas
Forward: Chandler Madry, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Forward: Wes Michaud, Corpus Christi IceRays
Defense: Matt Koch, Wichita Falls Wildcats
Defense: Ivan Chukarov, Minnesota Wilderness
Goaltender: Matej Tomek, Topeka RoadRunners
2014-15 Most Valuable Player and Forward of the Year: Sebastian Vidmar, Lone Star Brahmas
Lone Star Brahmas forward Sebastian Vidmar had a remarkable regular season. The second-year forward and native of Malmo, Sweden, led the NAHL in points with 80 and goals with 35. Both are the highest totals in the league since the 2011-12 season. Vidmar, who committed to play NCAA Division I hockey during the season at Union College, also led the league with 11 game-winning goals, which was the highest total in the NAHL since the 2007-08 season. He was first among all NAHL forwards with a +37 rating and he was twice named the NAHL Forward of the Month during the season (October and December). In 100 career NAHL regular season games, Vidmar posted 105 points.
2014-15 Defenseman of the Year: Matt Koch, Wichita Falls Wildcats
Wichita Falls Wildcats defenseman Matt Koch capped off his second season in the NAHL by tying for the NAHL scoring lead among all defensemen. The second-year native of Hastings, Minnesota, recorded 51 points in 60 games played during the regular season. His 44 assists was tops among all NAHL defensemen and his +32 rating ranked 5th. Koch, who is headed to the Air Force Academy to play NCAA Division I hockey, totaled 68 points in 116 career NAHL regular season games throughout his two-tear career. He also posted four points in nine career playoff games.
2014-15 Vaughn Hockey Goaltender of the Year: Matej Tomek, Topeka RoadRunners
Playing the entire season as a 17-year-old, Topeka goalie Matej Tomek was the backbone of another great season in Topeka. He is the second consecutive goalie from the team to win the annual award, as PJ Bridges from the RoadRunners won the honor last season. The native of Bratislava, Slovakia, burst onto the scene, winning seven of his first eight games. During the season, Tomek committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for the University of North Dakota. He finished second among NAHL goaltenders in goals against average (1.83), shutouts (6) and was 5th in save percentage (92.8%). During the regular season, he posted 24-7-2 record and was selected to play in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament, but missed the event with an injury. He also is ranked in the Top 5 of the NHL Central Scouting rankings for all North American goaltenders eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft.
2014-15 Rookie of the Year: Blake Lizotte, forward, Minot Minotauros
Playing half the season as a 16-year-old, Minot Minotauros Blake Lizotte not only transformed into a future star, but also managed to lead his playoff-bound team in scoring during the season. The native of Lindstrom, Minnesota, led all Minot players with 52 points in 56 games played. During the month of November, Lizotte was named NAHL Forward of the Month as he recorded 16 of his points during the month to put Minot in 1st place during that stretch. Lizotte was also named to the NAHL All-Rookie Team and the All-Central Division team earlier this season. During the season, Lizotte committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at St. Cloud State University and he was also selected to and played in the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the NAHL Selects Team.
2014-15 Coach of the Year: Dan Wildfong, Lone Star Brahmas
The signs of a turnaround were evident a year ago, but Lone Star Brahmas head coach Dan Wildfong not only led his club to a 40-win season (an improvement of 17 wins), but also captured the South Division regular season title and #2 seed in the NAHL playoffs in the process. After 23 wins and a late start in 2013-14, Wildfong had plenty of time to build a cup contender for this season and the Brahmas didn’t disappoint. Their 40-12-8 record was the 2nd best in the NAHL during the regular season and good enough to win the division. At 26-3-1, the Brahmas also boasted the best home record in the league during the regular season. On top of all that, the Brahmas currently have nine players that are committed to play NCAA Division I hockey, showing a tremendous record of advancement to the next level by Wildfong and his staff.
2014-15 General Manager of the Year: Joe Dibble, Janesville Jets
The decisions made on and off the ice led to the recognition of Joe Dibble as NAHL General Manager of the Year. On the ice, the Jets season was one for the NAHL record books. Dibble put together a team that set a new NAHL single-season record for wins (49) and points (100). With that record the Jets secured the #1 seed heading into the Robertson Cup Playoffs and won the NAHL’s North Division regular season title in late February. They also set a new franchise record for wins, had the league’s top-ranked defense and Dibble won his 100th game as Jets coach in the process. 12 players (9 current) are committed to play NCAA Division I hockey. Off the ice, Dibble’s Jets were heavily involved in the community, as they won the NAHL’s Movember campaign and continue to win local awards for their service in the community, which has established a culture of giving back that transcends the years of roster changes.
2014-15 Organization of the Year: Janesville Jets
The Janesville Jets record-breaking season included setting a new NAHL standard for wins (49) and points (100) during a regular season. The Jets also posted 25 wins on the road in 30 games this season, which also set a new NAHL modern day record. In the process, the Jets set a new franchise record for wins, won the North Division regular season title and were the #1 overall seed heading into the NAHL playoffs. The Jets sent six players to the NAHL Top Prospects Tournament and have 12 players (9 current) that are committed to play NCAA Division I hockey. The Jets are also one of the more active NAHL teams in their community as they totaled almost 1,300 hours in the community this season alone, which included work and campaigns with organization’s such as Goshen Children’s Home, the Southern Wisconsin Humane Society, the House of Mercy Homeless Shelter, Janesville Regency House, Mercy Hospital, the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville, Washington Elementary School, the Salvation Army and the NAHL’s Movember campaign. They also had four players on the All-North Division Team, as well as, the North Division Community Service Award winner in defenseman Alex Smith.
2014-15 Apex Learning Virtual School Academic Achievement Award: Dryden McKay, Springfield Jr. Blues
While excelling on the ice, Springfield Jr. Blues goaltender Dryden McKay also excelled in the classroom this season. The high school junior from Downers Grove, Illinois, carried a full class load this season, while being Springfield’s starting goalie. He posted on overall GPA of 3.83, while enrolled in two honors courses and one advanced placement class at Springfield High School. All this while, McKay was 3rd in the NAHL in saves with 1,092 this season, posting a save percentage of 91.7%.
2014-15 Community Service Award: Travis Howe, Corpus Christi IceRays
Corpus Christi IceRays defenseman Travis Howe may have a tough persona on the ice, but it was his off the ice contributions that stuck out in the community. While the IceRays set a new team standard for community service hours this season, it was Howe who led the charge with over 70 hours this season in the Corpus Christi community. This included helping to build homes for the local Habitat Humanity, preparing meals for the local Ronald McDonald House, spending time with young children and disadvantaged community members at the Corpus Christi Metro Ministries. He also took time out to befriend a young 8-year-old girl named Brooke Hester, who was battling Stage IV Neuroblastoma. The two developed a special bond and Howe was able to honor and recognize her during the IceRays Childhood Cancer Awareness Night. Travis dedicated hours of his time and hands to make special headwear for children, including Brooke, and teens who have lost their hair from their battle with cancer. Facing children with cancer directly is not easy, and yet Travis clearly had the spirit of compassion in all he did that went above and beyond his dedication to making a difference for all children fighting cancer. Travis also made several personal appearances at fundraisers to help support the cause on behalf of all kids and youth battling for their lives against the disease.