19-year-old Texas Tornado defenseman Ralfs Freibergs was honored as the NAHL Defenseman of the Year at the NAHL Banquet of Champions on Monday night in Topeka, Kansas. Freibergs, who hails from Riga, Latvia, led all NAHL defensemen in scoring this season with 55 points (seven goals) in 53 games with the Tornado. He was also a plus-21. He set a Tornado single-season record for points and assists by a defenseman. Freibergs also won an IIHF Division I World Junior Championship with his native country in December. Freibergs was also named to the All-NAHL Team along with forwards Michael Hill of the Topeka RoadRunners, Nardo Naagtzaam of the Alexandria Blizzard, Cody Wydo of the Motor City Metal Jackets; defensemen Jack Callahan of the Fairbanks Ice Dogs and goaltender Robert Tadazak of the Michigan Warriors.
Other NAHL awards handed out Monday night for the 2010-11 season were:
NAHL MVP and Goatender of the Year
Robert Tadazak, Michigan Warriors
Tadazak, a 20-year-old from Lapeer, Mich., fashioned a 27-9-5 record, including a league-leading nine shutouts, in 45 regular-season appearances this season. His .944 save percentage was the highest among NAHL goaltenders, and his 1.77 goals-against average ranked second best in the league.
Forward of the Year
Cody Wydo, Motor City Metal Jackets
In 58 games with the Metal Jackets this season, Wydo won the league’s scoring title with 91 points on an NAHL-leading 40 goals and 51 assists (tied for most in the league). He was also a plus-26. The 20-year-old from Wyandotte, Mich., has also secured a scholarship to Robert Morris University (Atlantic Hockey) for next season.
Rookie of the Year
Justin Hussar, Topeka RoadRunners
In his first Junior A season, Justin Hussar ranked tied for sixth in NAHL scoring with 66 points on 33 goals in 58 games for the Presidents Cup champion RoadRunners. He was also a plus-26. The 18-year-old from Lancaster, N.Y., has also secured a scholarship to Merrimack College of Hockey East.
Coach of the Year
Scott Langer, Topeka RoadRunners
In addition to a South Division regular-season title, Scott Langer guided the RoadRunners to the Presidents Cup as the NAHL’s regular-season champions with a 43-12-3 record, good for 89 points. Eight of his players are also committed to Division I schools for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons to date.
General Manager of the Year
Rob Proffitt, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
The architect behind the Ice Dogs’ West Division regular-season title this season, Rob Proffitt witnessed his team post a 40-15-3 record, good for 83 points. Under his watch, three Ice Dogs players have committed to Division I schools to date, and he also orchestrated the NAHL’s third annual outdoor game in March, which drew over 2,000 in attendance.
Organization of the Year
Fairbanks Ice Dogs
The West Division regular-season champions, the Ice Dogs drew both a fifth-highest average attendance of 2,126 and total attendance of 61,660 in the entire NAHL. They also hosted the league’s third annual outdoor game in March, which drew over 2,000 spectators. In addition, three of their players have committed to Division I programs to date.
Academic Achievement Award
Dominic Granato, Kenai River Brown Bears
A 19-year-old from Pittsburgh, Brown Bears forward Dominic Granato proved exemplary in the classroom this season, highlighted by his 4.42 GPA and 33 ACT and 2350 SAT scores in addition to enrolling in college classes in Kenai River.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Community Service Award
Karl Beckman, Amarillo Bulls
Holy Cross recruit Karl Beckman amassed over 90 hours of community service work for the Bulls this season. Just a few of the programs the 19-year-old from Okemos, Mich., participated in included donating time at Amarillo’s Children’s Hospital, tutoring students at Tascosa High School and assisting with the team’s “Hockey for Health” program.
Dick’s Sporting Goods Community Service Award
Chris Bond, Topeka RoadRunners
Not only did he organize and execute the team’s “Runners Get Fit” and “Reading with the RoadRunners” programs in local schools, Chris Bond, a 19-year-old from Centreville, Va., also created his own charitable endeavor at a local hospital in addition to participating in virtually every RoadRunners’ community service event this season.
Mark Messier Leadership Award
Matt Millis, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
A third-year forward with the Ice Dogs, Matt Millis has overcome a number of adversities during his NAHL career, from injuries to limited playing time, to become one of team’s most respected leaders. The 21-year-old from Black River Falls, Wis., faced his biggest challenge in February when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer only to return to the Ice Dogs’ lineup three weeks later to help lead the team to a West Division regular-season title.