Monday, April 13, 2015

Hoggan, MacIntyre and LaRose Headline Texas Media Ballot for Hunt Award

Hoggan (Credit: Christina Shapiro/Texas Stars)
The American Hockey League is announcing the 2014-15 year-end awards. As the media representatives for the Texas Stars, Stephen Meserve of 100 Degree Hockey and Sean Shapiro of the Austin American-Statesman submitted a ballot for each award. As winners are announced, we’ll break down the choices. Today’s ballot: the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award.

Keep the rule and guideline in mind from the first post: we can’t vote for Texas, and we tend to vote for Western Conference players.

The Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award is given to a player for their sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey. Because these are harder to pick off a stat line and tend to involved off-ice stories, each team’s PR team submits a few players for consideration along with a write-up of why they should be considered.

The Stars submitted Maxime Fortunus and Derek Meech as their candidates. You don’t have to vote for a player off that list; it’s just a guide post.

We voted for…

  1. Jeff Hoggan, Grand Rapids Griffins
  2. Drew MacIntyre, Charlotte Checkers
  3. Chad LaRose, Charlotte Checkers

Sean: We nailed it.

Stephen: Absolutely. We’re very happy to have voted for a Western Conference veteran, Jeff Hoggan, as our top choice for the Hunt Award. The league did a great job explaining why Hoggan deserved the award, so we’re going to let them do the talking on our first ballot selection.

We also wanted to add our thoughts on why we voted for our second and third place choices. The second spot on our ballot went to Drew MacIntyre, the journeyman goaltender currently manning the pipes in Charlotte. Texas is familiar with MacIntyre from last year’s seven-game Western Conference Final series. MacIntyre celebrated his 200th AHL win in December, just the 12th goalie in AHL history to reach that milestone.

MacIntyre suffered a season-ending injury just 11 games into his rookie season in Detroit and faced a significant obstacle in coming back: the emergence of Jimmy Howard.

"After my first three years, if you had told me I’d be playing 12 years I’d be very thankful," MacIntyre told the Checkers’ Paul Branecky in December. Charlotte is MacIntyre’s 14th different team since he debuted in 2003, but he has stuck with it and nearly carried his club to a Calder Cup berth last season.

For more, I definitely recommend you read up about MacIntyre’s history from the Charlotte Checkers story on him.

Sean: Chad LaRose has won Stanley Cup and played in 508 NHL games. But he didn’t play during the 2013-14 season after he “had just built up so much anger and hatred for the game,” that he once loved.

That started to change during the 2014 playoffs. He was interested again, started communicating with former teammates, and made the decision to continue his hockey career. He caught on with the Charlotte Checkers, and despite some early-season injury troubles, he emerged as a leader on a very young team.

Hockey was fun again, and his on-ice success has reflected that. LaRose is second on the team with 36 points (18 goals, 18 assists) and he’s been reliable on special teams with six power play goals and two shorthanded tallies.

For more, I would suggest reading this story from ESPN.com’s Katie Strang.

Stephen: As a final note, this is one award I would keep my eye on for Texas’ captain Maxime Fortunus. I think he fits the mold of a player who would win this one in a future season. I’d be interested to know how many teams had him on their ballot this year given his recognition from the league at the All-Star game for his long-time service in the AHL.

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