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NAHL announces 2015-16 season awards and honors

April 28, 2016

Fairbanks Ice Dogs and NAHL Top Prospects forward Todd Burgess was named the 2015-16 NAHL Most Valuable Player and Forward of the Year.

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the remainder of its awards for the 2015-16 season.  The selections are based on performance during the 2015-16 regular season, as voted upon by the league’s 22 head coaches.
 
The 2015-16 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, Executive of the Year and Organization of the Year, along with the Apex Learning Virtual School Academic Achievement Award, Leadership Award and Community Service Award.
 
Here is a look at the winners:
 
2015-16 All-NAHL Team
Forward: Todd Burgess, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Forward: Alex Berardinelli, Lone Star Brahmas
Forward: Hampus Sjodahl, Odessa Jackalopes
Defense: Cameron Clarke, Lone Star Brahmas
Defense: Kristofers Bindulis, Aston Rebels
Goaltender: Hunter Shepard, Bismarck Bobcats

2015-16 Most Valuable Player and Forward of the Year: Todd Burgess, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Burgess, 20, had one of the better individual seasons in recent NAHL history. The native of Phoenix, Arizona, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at RPI, recorded 95 points, which was the most in a season by an NAHL player since Pat Maroon (Edmonton Oilers) had 95 points during the 2006-07 season for the St. Louis Bandits. Burgess (6’2/185) was also selected to and played in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the NAHL Selects Team, where he had three points in two games. He is currently one of 11 players with NAHL tied ranked in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings for the 2016 NHL Draft. In his three-year NAHL career, Burgess recorded 145 points in 147 regular season games.

2015-16 Defenseman of the Year: Cameron Clarke, Lone Star Brahmas
Clarke, 19, was dominant from the blueline this season for the Brahmas. The native of Tecumseh, Michigan, who committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Ferris State University, led all NAHL defensemen in scoring this season with 50 points in 59 games played. Clarke (6’2/180) was also selected to and played in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the NAHL Selects Team, where he had a goal in two games. Clarke has also received interest from several NHL teams leading up to the 2016 NHL Draft. Clarke was the NAHL Defenseman of the Month in February and November. Clarke is also an alumni of the NAPHL, having played for the West Michigan Hounds 18U team during the 2013-14 season.
 
2015-16 Vaughn Hockey Goaltender of the Year: Hunter Shepard, Bismarck Bobcats
Shepard, 20, is the latest in the line of goalies to play for the Bismarck Bobcats to have an outstanding season that ended up in personal and team success, coupled with an NCAA Division I commitment. The 6’0/200 lbs. native of Cohasset, Minnesota, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, led the NAHL in several statistical categories. That included games played (50), minutes played (2,932), wins (34) and shutouts (8). Shepard was also 2nd in goals against average with a 1.90 mark and was 4th in save percentage (92.6%). Shepard, who was the NAHL Goalie of the Month in January and runner-up in both February and December, also was selected to and played in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the Central Division team.
 
2015-16 Rookie of the Year: Adam Goodsir, Wichita Falls Wildcats
Goodsir, 17, had a memorable rookie year in the NAHL, which included helping his Wildcats capture their first ever NAHL South Division title during the regular season. The native of Okemos, Michigan, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at the University of Denver, was 4th in team scoring this season for the Wildcats, recording 45 points, including a team-leading 28 goals, in 59 games played. Goodsir (6’2/180) was also selected to and played in the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament for the NAHL Selects team, where he had one point in two wins. Goodsir is also an NAPHL alum having played the 2013-14 season for the Lansing Capitals 16U team, where he was also an All-Star that season.
 
2015-16 Coach of the Year: John LaFontaine, Wichita Falls Wildcats
It was a record-breaking year for the Wichita Falls Wildcats and the man directing it all was head coach John LaFontaine. On the ice, the Wildcats won a team-record 44 games and won their first ever South Division regular season title.  Their 44 wins and 93 points were 2nd in the NAHL only to the Fairbanks Ice Dogs.  That included a 16-game home winning streak to end the regular season, which spanned from January 2nd through April 8th. The Wildcats and LaFontaine also produced the NAHL Rookie of the Year in Adam Goodsir, had two players on All-Rookie Teams and two more players on the NAHL All-South Division Team. To top his season off, a total of eight players on the current Wildcats team are committed to play college hockey at NCAA Division I schools. LaFontaine is in his second season at the helm for the Wildcats. He previously coached in the NAHL for the Bozeman Icedogs, winning the NAHL Coach of the Year award back during the 2005-06 season.
 
2015-16 General Manager & Executive of the Year: Rob Proffitt, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Thanks again in large part to General Manager Rob Proffitt, the Ice Dogs had a record-breaking season, not only on the ice, but also in the community.  On the ice, the Ice Dogs tied an NAHL single-season record with 49 wins during the regular season and set an NAHL single-season record for points with 101. The team also has had nine players commit to NCAA schools to date this season.  Proffitt has also developed one of the most impressive lists of corporate partners in the NAHL. More impressively, he helped his team sellout 27 of possible 28 home games this season, which lead the NAHL.  With a seating capacity of 2,242 at the Big Dipper Ice Arena, the Ice Dogs averaged 2,237 fans during the 2015-16 regular season, which put them at an amazing 99.7% capacity.  This marks Proffitt’s fifth NAHL General Manager of the Year award in the last six seasons.

2015-16 Organization of the Year: Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Besides continuing to be a shining star in the Fairbanks and surrounding communities, the Ice Dogs continue to be a model organization in the NAHL for a variety of reasons. Their fan base is as passionate as they come, as they sold out 27 of 28 home games this season and operated at an incredible 99.7% capacity, continuing to be the hottest ticket in town on Friday and Saturday nights. On the ice, the Ice Dogs tied an NAHL single-season record with 49 wins during the regular season and set an NAHL single-season record for points with 101. The team also has had nine players commit to NCAA schools to date this season.  The team also featured the league MVP, along with two players on the NAHL All-Rookie Team. 

2015-16 Apex Learning Virtual School Academic Achievement Award: Jon Russell, Odessa Jackalopes
Odessa Jackalopes forward Jon Russell, 18, enjoyed a very solid rookie season while in the Permian Basin. The native of Traverse City, Michigan played in 41 games, mainly as a 17-year-old still in high school for the Jackalopes and recorded 16 points in his rookie season. Russell (5’11/170) also had two points in Odessa’s three playoff games. However, it is in the classroom where Russell has also excelled. During his senior year in high school, which is going to be completed back home in Michigan, Russell has a perfect 4.0 GPA in both his fall and spring semesters, while taking a full class load of AP Statistics, AP Anatomy and AP Physiology, along with English, Intro to Business and Choir. On top of all that, Russell is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey and has been accepted to Harvard University.

2015-16 Leadership Award: Alex Smith, Janesville Jets
The Janesville Jets’ success this season, including the late season push to 2nd place in the Midwest Division, would not have happened without the leadership of third-year player and captain Alex Smith. Smith’s position as a leader on this team didn’t come to him overnight. When he arrived in the NAHL in 2013-14, he landed onto a team with solid leadership. He matured quickly and soon became a reason for the locker room’s maturity, not just a benefactor of it. On the ice, Smith, 21, pushes his teammates to give everything they can, no matter their age. He expects professionalism and complete commitment from his veterans as much as his rookies. Smith cuts absolutely zero corners in his life, whether he’s playing a game, in practice, doing schoolwork or performing community service. He is truly a man of routine who believes in complete dedication, and through his leadership, his demand from his teammates for their perseverance has been met. Without a doubt, Alex Smith is a textbook example as a leader and a significant reason the Jets have enjoyed the success they have. Ask anyone for their unbiased opinion of Alex Smith and they’ll tell you the same thing, again and again. His coaches will tell you he’s a vocal leader who demands excellence. His billet family will tell you he steps up and washes dishes every night, even as a veteran in a house with two rookies. Jets front office staff will tell you he’s the first to arrive at every single appearance, and the last to leave. Janesville Youth Hockey coaches will tell you he pours his work ethic into the squirts and pee-wees he works with, and that reason alone is perhaps the single best example of why Smith should be recognized for his leadership. He has passion for the game and believes every player can give 100%.

2015-16 Community Service Award: Cole Souto, Bismarck Bobcats
As co-captain, Souto, 20, organized all of the Bobcats community service efforts, not only spending his own off-time involved in community efforts but also encouraging a record turnout for the players at community events during the 2015-16 season. Community events that Souto, a native of Yorba Linda, California, led for the Bobcats this year included: Healthy Habits, where players visited hundreds of local school kids to speak on healthy lifestyles and to speak out against bullying; Dreams in Motion, to help local sled hockey players live out their hockey dreams; Salvation Army, where Bobcats joined local volunteers to ring bells at Christmas time to raise money for the charity; Brave the Shave, where nearly half the team shaved their heads to raise money and awareness for fighting childhood cancer; Sanford Hospital, where the players visited local children in the hospital and spent time with them during their fights against cancer and many other one-day appearances at local events.
 
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