Riley Damiani is the AHL Rookie of the Year

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

The American Hockey League announced this afternoon that Texas Stars center Riley Damiani is the league's Rookie of the Year, winning the Dudley "Red" Garrett Memorial Award. Damiani notched 36 points in 36 games, leading all rookies in scoring and sitting third overall in the league.

Damiani led the rookie scoring nearly wire-to-wire as he and Adam Mascherin formed a dynamic scoring duo throughout the season. Despite not getting a look in Dallas this year due to the taxi squad and COVID protocols, Damiani should be hot on the radar of the NHL club when things resume in October.

His top competitor for the award was likely Logan Thompson, who was just named the AHL's outstanding goalie of the year. The last goalie to win rookie of the year was Matt Murray, who had also won goalie of the year. Texas's sub-.500 record could have been a ding on Damiani's candidacy, but it appears that voters recognized his talent regardless.

Damiani is the second player in team history to win the award with the other being winger Curtis McKenzie, who was the 2014 winner. The Stars are just one of four teams to have multiple winners in the last thirty years.

Here is the release:

The Texas Stars, American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, are pleased to announce that forward Riley Damiani has been voted the winner of the Dudley (Red) Garrett Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding rookie for the 2020-21 season.

The award was voted on by coaches, players, and members of the media in each of the league’s 28 active cities.

Damiani, 21, earned spots on the AHL All-Rookie Team and the Central Division All-Star Team for the 2020-21 season. The rookie paced the Stars and all newcomers in the AHL this season with 36 points (11-25=36) and 25 assists in 36 games during his first pro campaign. The Mississauga, Ontario native also finished third in the AHL scoring race and was fourth in assists. Damiani finished the year with points in eight consecutive games and collected nine multi-point outings throughout the season, including the Stars only hat trick on Mar. 13 vs. Colorado. Damiani earned AHL Rookie of the Month honors in March after tallying 15 points (4-11=15) in 10 games.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound center was originally selected by Dallas in the fifth round (137th overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft. Damiani turned pro after four seasons with Kitchener in the Ontario Hockey League. He served as captain of his junior club and led the team in scoring in 2019-20. He signed an entry-level NHL contract with the Stars on April 1, 2019.

It is the first time since the 2013-14 season that the Stars have had a player earn the award. Curtis McKenzie won the honor after leading all first-year players with 64 points (26-38=64) in 73 games. Texas is one of four teams since 1991 to have players win the award multiple times.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1947, honors the late Dudley (Red) Garrett, a promising young player who lost his life during World War II while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. Garrett split his only pro season, 1942-43, between the AHL’s Providence Reds and the NHL’s New York Rangers. Previous winners of the Garrett Award include Terry Sawchuk (1949), Jim Anderson (1955), Bill Sweeney (1958), Roger Crozier (1964), Gerry Desjardins (1968), Rick Middleton (1974), Darryl Sutter (1980), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Steve Thomas (1985), Ron Hextall (1986), Brett Hull (1987), Felix Potvin (1992), Corey Hirsch (1993), Darcy Tucker (1996), Daniel Briere (1998), Darren Haydar (2003), Rene Bourque (2005), Nathan Gerbe (2009), Tyler Ennis (2010), Cory Conacher (2012), Tyler Toffoli (2013), Matt Murray (2015), Mikko Rantanen (2016), Frank Vatrano (2016), Danny O’Regan (2017), Mason Appleton (2018), Alex Barre-Boulet (2019) and Josh Norris (2020).