The North American Hockey League announced today that Mahoning Valley Phantoms forward Brandon Saad has been named Rookie of the Year, along with its All-Rookie Team for the 2008-09 season.
Saad, from Gibsonia, Pa., totaled 29 goals for 47 points in 47 regular-season games with the Phantoms. He was also a team-best plus-21.
“Brandon is the most well-rounded prospect I’ve coached, or even seen,” said Phantoms head coach Bob Mainhardt. “He pretty much can do it all. He’s very dominant physically, does a very good job defensively, wins battles, and, for a big man (6-foot-2, 195 pounds), has unbelievable agility.”
Saad, 16, was also a member of the U.S. National Under-17 Team that earned a bronze medal at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge held in Port Alberni, British Columbia, in December-January. He was named to the tournament’s all-star team after finishing tied for the team lead in scoring (four goals, five assists).
“He’s very mature for a young man,” Mainhardt added. “He’s really dealt with all the attention he’s gotten very well. He’s just a part of the team. He’s a funny, regular 16-year-old. He’s a little more mature, but you can see the kid in him sometimes. He just loves playing the game and he fits in well. His teammates love him.”
Saad, a three-time winner of the Sherwood/NAHL North Division Player of the Week Award, was also named to the NAHL All-Rookie Team.
“Because of his size and physical stature, we joke that we need to check his birth certificate because he’s so young,” said Mainhardt. “He’s the youngest player on our team, but he looks like one of the older guys and he carries himself that way, too.”
2008-09 NAHL All-Rookie Team
Forward: Trent Frey, Springfield Jr. Blues
Forward: Brandon Saad, Mahoning Valley Phantoms
Forward: Mike Voran, Wenatchee Wild
Defenseman: Brandon Burrell, Wenatchee Wild
Defenseman: Tim Smith, Owatonna Express
Goaltender: David Bosner, Bismarck Bobcats
NAHL players in their first year of Junior A hockey are considered rookies.
The NAHL Academic Achievement Award, Community Service Award, Coach of the Year, General Manager of the Year and Organization of the Year will be announced in the coming weeks.
The All-NAHL Team, Goaltender of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Forward of the Year and Most Valuable Player will be announced at the Robertson Cup Championship banquet on Monday, April 27.
The North American Hockey League, the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II league boasting 19 teams from across the country, including the esteemed USA Hockey National Team Development Program, prides itself on the social maturity and skill development of student-athletes ages 16-20 with aspirations of advancing to collegiate and/or professional hockey.