IceBirds Announce Team Player Awards after Dream Season
At the recent Annual Team Banquet the IceBirds handed out its team awards. It was a fun way to wrap up the season, recognizing the team’s stand-outs. The team had awards in seven categories with a “Player of the Year” and “Honorable Mention” in each.
The night began with recognition of the Defensive Defensemen. Honorable Mention went to Michael Downs while the Defensive Defensemen of the Year was Andrew Willis. Andrew completed his second year with the IceBirds. Teaming with partner Mike Heth the two rarely were scored upon throughout the year. Andrew’s tough physical play in his own end was a big part of the reason why. Andrew spent more time in the penalty box (94 PIM in 29 GP) than any teammate, and his hard nosed play punished anyone threatening his own net.
The IceBirds game plan incorporates the defensemen into the offensive attack and that success shows with leading scorers # 8 through # 11 all defensemen. The Offensive Defensemen Honorable mention went out to Mike Heth. Mike was a big part of the power play notching 6 PPG and totaling 25 points in 33 games. The Offensive Defensemen of the Year Award went to senior Joey Dilallo. Joey netted 6 goals and 20 assists for 26 points in 32 games this season. The IceBirds will not be the same without Joey next year, but his impact on the team on ice and in the locker room will carry on through his teammates.
And now the forwards -- the Defensive Forward Honorable Mention went to rookie Andrew Jesernig. The Defense Forward of the Year Award went to senior Captain Jon Cronin. While the entire team did a great job taking care of the defensive responsibilities, there were many times we saw Jon tearing up through the middle lane on the back check to support his defensemen battling an odd man rush against them. Jon was a great Captain for the team, his leadership example will be passed on and kept alive through the next leaders of the team.
When a team scores over 200 goals in 33 regular season games, there must be some talented offense on the bench. The Offensive Forward of the Year Honorable Mention went to Kevin Kruszynski. Kevin missed half the season, yet scored 25 goals in just 18 games. The Offensive Forward of the Year Award went to Matt Lee. Matt was number two in points for the IceBirds with 26 goals and 32 assists in 31 games. At nearly two points a game, Matt showed why he is an integral part of the IceBird offense.
Most Improved Player of the Year Honorable mention went to Jonathan Janda. This rookie came in to camp as a forward and was converted to defensemen. JJ took to the position nicely, improving throughout the year. It all culminated in the end of the year and playoff performances were JJ was as good as any of the experienced defensemen on the roster. Starting from this point next year, JJ should be a significant piece of the IceBird defense. The Most Improved Player of the Year Award went to Olindo Alo. Olindo began the year as a fourth line center and climbed the ladder throughout the year. Olindo finished leading his wings, Lee and Brown as they became the #2 and #3 scorers on the team. Olindo finished #6 in scoring with 19 goals and 13 assists over 30 games while playing stellar defense. Olindo also scored a game tying goal in the last second of the game in the only 6 on 5 situation the IceBirds put on all year. Olindo will anchor a great line next year as he and both his linemates can return for another year of IceBird Hockey.
There were 12 rookies on the ice at one time or another for the IceBirds, and two of them received awards for their rookie performances. The IceBirds Rookie of the Year Honorable Mention went to the team’s #3 scorer, Justin Brown. Justin tallied 14 goals and 26 assists and was huge in the MACHA Championship win over Palmer. Justin was a defensemen for the Rockford Icemen who was converted to a wing who was the team’s best penalty killer and productive 5 on 5 as well. The Rookie of the Year Award however, went to IceBird goalie, Jon Orlak. Jon was clearly among the top ten goalies in the nation. His 24 – 0 – 2 record says enough. For the hockey geeks, a GAA of 2.41 and a Save % of 92 percent cap it off. The IceBirds are giddy knowing Jon will be back as a sophomore. Goalies tend to get better with age, and Jon is already the class of the field.
Most Valuable Player of the Year Honorable Mention went to Jon Orlak as well. What more can you say, Jon kept the IceBirds in every game and went undefeated in net. What more can a team ask for from the goalie. With 269 goals in 37 games (the Blackhawks had 201 in 82 games) there had to be a bunch of talented goal scorers. For two years in a row, the most talented of them all was the Most Valuable Player of the Year, sophomore right winger, Brett Kahanec. Brett was # 8 in the nation for point producers. Brett had 43 goals and 38 assists in 32 regular season games. His productiveness continued throughout the playoffs. Brett now has 71 goals and 62 assists in for 133 points in his first 51 regular season games for the IceBirds. Brett is a treat to watch every time he touches the puck. With both his linemates ready to return for another season, the sky is the limit for this talented forward.