The North American Hockey League (NAHL) announced their 2011-12 season-ending awards at the annual NAHL Banquet of Champions held on Sunday night, May 6th at the Frisco Convention Center in Frisco, Texas.
The featured guest speaker was Dallas Stars (NHL) head coach Glen Gulutzan, who spoke to the banquet crowd, players and coaches. Catch a glimpse of some of the special night here.
Awards given out included: the All-NAHL Team, Most Valuable Player, Forward of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Brian’s 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 Academic Achievement Award, Community Service Award and Mark Messier Leadership Award. Here is a look at the winners:
2011-12 All-NAHL Team
Forward: Gabe Levin, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Forward: Joe Kalisz, St. Louis Bandits
Forward: JT Osborn, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Defense: John Rey, Amarillo Bulls
Defense: Sean O’Rourke, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Goalie: Connor Hellebuyck, Odessa Jackalopes
2011-12 Most Valuable Player and Forward of the Year: Joe Kalisz, St. Louis Bandits
Kalisz, a 20-year-old from Davison, Michigan, was not only voted as the Forward of the Year, but also as this year’s North American Hockey League Most Valuable Player. He ended up leading the league in points with 91, making him just the fifth player in the last eight years to reach the 90-point plateau. He also tied for the league-lead in goals with 40. He was twice honored as the NAHL’s Player of the Month in both February and March. During the year, he also committed to the University of Connecticut, where he will play hockey in the fall. Kalisz is also one of two finalists for the USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year.
2011-12 Defenseman of the Year: John Rey, Amarillo Bulls
Rey, a 19-year-old from Turnersville, New Jersey, led all NAHL defenseman in scoring with 51 points in 60 games played. Since the NAHL started tracking and keeping plus/minus as a statistic, he set a new single-season record with an amazing +64 rating this past season. His 43 assists ranked 6th of all players in the league. He also was selected to be a part of the South team at the 2012 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.
2011-12 Brian’s Goaltender(s) of the Year and 2011-12 Rookie(s) of the Year:
Connor Hellebuyck, Odessa Jackalopes and Robert Nichols, Wenatchee Wild
The NAHL had the rarest of situations this season as both Connor Hellebuyck and Robert Nichols received the same number of votes for both the Rookie of Year award and the Brian’s Goaltender of the Year awards, therefore both were honored. Hellebuyck, an 18-year-old from Commerce, Michigan, had a remarkable rookie season as he backstopped the Jackalopes to an NAHL playoff appearance. He led the league in games and minutes played, shots faced, saves and was second in save percentage with a 93.0%. During the season, he made an NCAA Division I commitment to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell for next season. Nichols, a 19-year-old from Dallas, Texas, who also led his team to the playoffs, set all-time new league records for shutouts in a season with 10 and goals against average in a season with a 1.49 goals against average. He also ranked first in save percentage with a 93.8%. Just this past week, Nichols announced his NCAA Division I commitment to the University of Connecticut.
2011-12 Coach of the Year: Bill Warren, Port Huron Fighting Falcons
Having just completed his first full season, Warren took over head coaching duties for the Port Huron Fighting Falcons in early 2011. This season, his team put together one of the best single-season turnarounds in NAHL history, going from winning six games last season to 38 games this season, a remarkable +32 turnaround in the win column. Port Huron also won both the North Division’s regular season and playoff titles.
2011-12 General Manager of the Year: Rob Proffitt, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Under the direction of General Manager Rob Proffitt, Fairbanks won their third regular season division title in the last five years and were the reigning Robertson Cup title holders this past season. They had nine players commit to NCAA schools so far this season. Perhaps more impressively, he helped his team sellout 24 of possible 28 home games this season, which lead the NAHL. This marks Proffitt’s second consecutive year of being honored as NAHL General Manager of the Year.
2011-12 Organization of the Year: Amarillo Bulls
The Amarillo Bulls won the South Division’s regular season and playoff championships, along with posting the best record in the NAHL during the regular season, setting a new NAHL record with 99 points in one season. They also managed to increase their average attendance over 500 fans a game vs. what they did last season. During the season, they had 13 players commit to NCAA programs, which led the NAHL.
2011-12 Academic Achievement Award: Alex Globke, Port Huron Fighting Falcons
Globke, 18, maintained a 3.95 grade point average with all college prep courses in his senior year of high school at Port Huron Northern also was selected as academic student of the month for the month of December. While doing all this, he managed to led his team in scoring this past season season along with winning the North Division’s regular season and playoff titles.
2011-12 Community Service Award: Brooks Behling, Amarillo Bulls
Behling was not only an impact player on the ice this season, but he also left his mark on the community. He participated in over 40 hours of community service, including teaching a Hockey for Health program, attending the children's diabetes walk for a cure and visiting the local Amarillo Veterans Hospital. All of this pales in comparison to the program that he started this season and the charitable impact that it had. He was instrumental in the "Bulls for Miracles" program. The program was designed to solicit donations based on goals scored during home games and victories. He also pledged to make a donation himself for each goal that he scored throughout the year. He went on to have a banner year, registering 37 goals on the season. He also worked hard to bring in donations for the program. During the Bulls final home game he and his father presented a check to the "Children's Miracle Network" for $7,488, which he raised himself.
2011-12 Mark Messier Leadership Award: Jack Prince, Texas Tornado
Jack embodies everything Mark Messier was as a player and remains today as an ambassador of hockey. Jack came to the United States from the United Kingdom (England) as an unpolished and inexperienced hockey player. He was big, but was told he was slow. Upon his arrival in Texas, Prince flourished and immediately emerged as a leader in his first season, registering 50 points. However, it was Jack's off the ice demeanor and leadership that was just as important. Prince often took the lead to all the Tornado community outreach events like visiting area schools to talk about the important of reading and nutrition, or visiting area hospitals during the holidays to bring stuffed animals to sick children, if only to bring a smile to their face for one day. Jack also never passes up an opportunity to talk to fans, making sure that every autograph is signed and every hand is shaken before leaving the arena. In his second year in the NAHL, he scored even more points (60) and he also had the rare opportunity to represent his native England at the IIHF Division I World Junior Championships, where he led the tournament in scoring and helped England to 2nd place finish. In his final junior season the NAHL, he totaled 78 points and became the all-time leading scorer in the 12-year history of the Texas Tornado. His 39 goals ranked second in the NAHL this season and as the captain, Jack not only let his play lead his team, but also his composure. He plays the game with a respect for his opponents, only totaling just 87 penalty minutes in three seasons. He is close to securing a NCAA Division I scholarship and embodies everything that is right about the NAHL player. He came to the league from a foreign land, grew as a player and person, developed his skill and his leadership qualities to finish as one of the most prolific scorers in NAHL history and one of the great captains and leaders in the 12-year history of the Texas Tornado and the NAHL.