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NAHL announces 2021-22 season awards

May 5, 2022

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced awards for the 2021-22 season.  The selections are based on performance during the 2021-22 regular season, as voted upon by the league’s 29 Head Coaches.

The 2021-22 season awards include: All-NAHL Team, NAHL All-Rookie 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, Broadcaster of the Year, and Volunteer 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:

2021-22 All-NAHL 1st Team

Forward: Cy LeClerc, Janesville Jets

Forward: Nicholas Niemo, Lone Star Brahmas

Forward: Ryan O’Neill, St. Cloud Norsemen

Defense: Vincent Corcoran, Wichita Falls Warriors

Defense: Evan Murr, St. Cloud Norsemen

Goalie: Arthur Smith, Lone Star Brahmas

2021-22 NAHL All-Rookie Team

Forward: Michael Mesic, North Iowa Bulls

Forward: Nicholas Rexine, Minnesota Wilderness

Forward: Jak Vaarwerk, Jamestown Rebels

Defense: Nicholas Bernardo, Maine Nordiques

Defense: Camden Shasby, Fairbanks Ice Dogs

Goalie: Arthur Smith, Lone Star Brahmas

2021-22 Most Valuable Player and Forward of the Year: Ryan O’Neill, St. Cloud Norsemen

O’Neill, 21, led the NAHL in scoring during the 2021-22 regular season. The 5’10/175 lbs. native of Roseville, MN, led all players with 80 points (30 goals, 50 assists) in 57 regular season games played. O’Neill, who is committed to the University of St. Thomas was the Central Division Star of the Week three times during the season. In 160 career NAHL games, O’Neill finished with 146 points.

2021-22 Goaltender and Rookie of the Year: Arthur Smith, Lone Star Brahmas

In his first junior hockey season, Smith, 18, led the NAHL with a 1.94 goals against average during the 2021-22 regular season. The 6’3/195 lbs. native of Farmington, CT, posted a 23-3-6 record in 34 games played during the regular season to go along with three shutouts and a .909 save percentage. Smith, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Princeton University, also played in the 2022 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.

2021-22 Defenseman of the Year: Vincent Corcoran, Wichita Falls Warriors

Corcoran, 20, led all NAHL defensemen in scoring this season, recording 52 points (8 goals, 44 assists) in 58 games played. The 5’8/165 lbs. native of Plainfield, IL, was also a +31 during the regular season, which ranked 3rd among NAHL defensemen. Corcoran, who is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Bemidji State University recorded 94 points in 164 career NAHL games.

2021-22 Coach of the Year: Phil Fox, New Mexico Ice Wolves

In his third season behind the Ice Wolves bench, Phil Fox earns his first career Coach of the Year Award in the NAHL. The 36-year-old led the Ice Wolves to a franchise-record 38 wins during the regular season and a 2nd place finish in the South Division. In addition, seven Ice Wolves players to date have made NCAA commitments. Fox was also the head coach of the South Division team at the 2022 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.

2021-22 General Manager of the Year: Dan Wildfong, Lone Star Brahmas

On the ice, Wildfong, 46, led the Brahmas to a remarkable 1st place finish in the South Division with a record of 38-12-10, which also was the best record in the NAHL during the 2021-22 regular season. Wildfong did it with a roster that began the season in what was widely considered a rebuilding year. In addition, seven Brahmas players committed to play NCAA hockey.

2021-22 Executive of the Year: Stan Hubbard, New Mexico Ice Wolves

Hubbard, who is the Owner and Governor of the NAHL’s New Mexico Ice Wolves, continued to have more organizational success in 2021-22. The team won a franchise-record 38 games on the ice. In November, Hubbard spearheaded the USA Women’s National Team coming to Albuquerque to train for the Winter Olympics. That included exhibition games against the Ice Wolves. In April, Hubbard and the Ice Wolves raised over $53,000 for the Feed My Starving Children organization to provide 220,020 meals for Ukrainians impacted by the war.

2021-22 Organization of the Year: Anchorage Wolverines

In their first season in the NAHL, the Anchorage Wolverines made a huge impact both on and off the ice. As an expansion team, the Wolverines finished in 3rd place in the Midwest Division with a record of 33-19-8, earning a Robertson Cup Playoff berth. In addition, five players to date have made NCAA commitments. Off the ice, the Wolverines put together a staff that introduced the NAHL brand of hockey to a new community and were immediately embraced. This included an aggressive and innovative launch campaign and several community serbice projects. While the Wolverines had the challenge of not playing in their expected facility, they made the most of the alternate facility, selling out most of their home games.

2021-22 Apex Learning Virtual School Academic Achievement Award: Axel Begley, Minnesota Magicians

Axel will be graduating Magna Cum Laude from Hill-Murray School this spring.  He has a GPA of 3.913 this year to go along with a 3.854 cumulative GPA.  Axel is also a member of National Honor Society.  He has been able to accomplish his academic achievements while attending classes at a brick-and-mortar school, balancing that hockey and academics, as opposed to more flexible options such as online schooling.

2021-22 Leadership Award: Holt Oliphant, Johnstown Tomahawks

With only four returning players in 2021-22, there was undoubtedly no question who the Johnstown Team Captain would be, and it was Holt Oliphant. His work ethic on and off the ice has truly been close to unmatched in the previous nine seasons in Johnstown. He is truly an absolute lead by example type of person who also knows when to step up and say the right things. His early season on ice performance earned him an NCAA Division 1 opportunity shortly after the NAHL Showcase with the Air Force Academy. “In my opinion, there is nobody that I would want to serve and defend our freedom more than him.  Not only is he an absolutely outstanding hockey player, he has a huge heart for others and seemingly always does the right thing. He has stepped up and delivered on so many off-ice projects and help lead many of the NAHL campaigns.  As our season went on, due to one trade and the other two players receiving an in-season Division 1 commitment, Holt Oliphant was the only returning player. The responsibility of leadership fell solely on his shoulders. I think these events surged his on-ice play to new levels. Some people could falter with that much added weight, but Holt seemed to relish that opportunity. We have a team this season that had very little NAHL experience and went through a lot of loss on the ice, and also a lot of tremendous loss off of the ice. Firsthand, after losing my father in January, I know the leadership that Holt provided to keep our team together during my absence, and that is something that I believe is an incredible trait of a leader,” stated Tomhawks head coach Mike Letizia.

2021-22 Community Service Award: Mason Kelly, Aberdeen Wings

'The Aberdeen Wings contributed over 300 hours of Community Service to the Aberdeen Community over the course of the season.  Mason participated in over 75% of those hours.  No matter the opportunity - reading to students in local elementary schools, gym classes to promote activity and health, floor hockey at the YMCA, he participated and led with a smile on his face, encouraging those he was working with the engage the activity and grow themselves in the process.  In many cases, Mason would volunteer for one block of time and would simply stay for the duration of the event, essentially doubling or more the time he would give to the organization or event.  He encouraged his teammates to participate as well, ensuring that voluntary events never became a chore to complete.

2021-22 Broadcaster of the Year: Cory Berberian, Bismarck Bobcats

2021-22 Volunteer of the Year: Autumn Makar, Anchorage Wolverines

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