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Awards: TIIL’s River Hawks of the Aughts

December 30, 2009

Given that it’s (already) the end of the… what are we calling it? “The Zeroes?” “The Aughts?” We dunno. We’ll stick with the Aughts because it sounds old-timey.

Okay.

Given that it’s (already) the end of the Aughts, we think that, like every other publication that covers any topic anywhere in the world, it’s time to start doling out lists that rank the best in Lowell hockey over the past 10 years. But while many blogs are happy to settle for a list of the best players, we know that you’ve come to expect more from us, who deserve to be awarded Bloggers of the Decade.

And with that in mind, we churned out not one, not two, not even four lists. In fact, we happily present you a whopping six lists. Not only do we rank the a first-, second- and honorable mention team, we also rank what we feel were the best individual seasons and our fan favorites/unsung heroes. Then, as a grand finale, we will make like the annual Lowell awards banquet and give out “_____ of the Decade” awards.

All awards and teams were decided upon by your two bestest pals from The Ice is Life and a mystery person, whom we’ll call The Third Man, and to whom we have occasionally turned for minor contributions in the past. All decisions with which you disagree should be attributed to him and him alone. Team members and awards were decided by simple majority and, in the event of three different nominees, shouting matches were held at TIIL Headquarters until a prevailing opinion could be reached (by which we mean that the one person typing this pretty much went with his choice). Unanimous decisions are marked with an asterisk.

Onward then…

We’ll get to the first-team River Hawks last, and we’ll start first with a team of the best individual seasons.

Best individual seasons

G (1): Cam McCormick 2001-02 (24, 13-6-3, 1.88/.920)*
D (2): Ron Hainsey 2000-01 (33, 10-26-36)*, Maury Edwards 2008-09 (38, 11-18-29)*
F (3): Ben Walter 2004-05 (36, 26-13-39)*, Elias Godoy 2003-04 (40, 18-23-41)*, Ed McGrane 2001-02 (37, 22-15-37)

As you can see, not too much disagreement here. McCormick’s 2001-02 season was obviously the runaway choice. Hainsey and Edwards had remarkably similar sophomore campaigns for the River Hawks. Ben Walter hefted an entire offense on his back in his junior season, and Elias Godoy set career highs in goals and points in his sophomore year (including scoring 5-3-8 in three games against UNH and Mike Ayers, who was probably the Wildcats’ goalie of the decade).

The only dissenting opinions produced were votes in favor of McGrane’s 2002-03 season over the one we ended up choosing, and for good reason. For one thing, he had more points in fewer games, a 21-21-42 line in 36, in fact. But we went with his 2001-02 season because he scored one more goal, and five of his goals were shorthanded, which is several unique kinds of awesome.

Unsung hero/Fan favorite team

G (1): Jimi St. John
D (2): Baptiste Amar, Jerramie Domish
F (3): Mark Concannon, Bobby Robins, Nick Monroe

Many of these picks are sentimental favorites, to be honest. St. John was chosen not just because he was a fine goaltender in his day and formed a wonderful tandem with McCormick, but also because he used to give pieces of Dubble Bubble to the fans at the start of each period for games in which he was the backup goaltender, and once stole Brian Gionta’s stick and refused to give it back. Amar got in because, while he only played two seasons, he was very, very good. That is perhaps the most straightforward pick of this group. Domish got in because he killed people and dumped Gionta on his head that one time.

Up front, we chose Mark Concannon almost entirely because of his hit on tiny Jared Mudryk, who would have been Dead To Us had TIIL existed in his playing days, and because he once put a player on Providence College through not one but TWO panes of glass with a single check. The inclusion of Bobby Robins, of course, needs no explanation. And Nick Monroe made the team because, well, we like penalty killers.

Honorable mention

G (1): Nevin Hamilton
D (2): Matt Collar, Cleve Kinley
F (3): Yorick Treille, Laurent Meunier, Danny O’Brien

There was a bit of debate with this team. We chose three different goalies, five different defensemen, and seven different forwards. The list was largely whittled down by seeing which players under consideration for this list got votes for higher teams. Hamilton, for example, got a second-team vote (statistically he’s better than Carter Hutton over their careers), as did Collar, Kinley, Meunier and Treille. All three of us felt that the Frenchmen would have been picked higher had they played longer than three years in Treille’s case or two, in the case of Meunier and Amar, and not missed a significant portion of the 2001-02 season because of the Olympics. Meunier, who had 57 points in 62 career games, especially exemplifies that.

Second team

G (1): Carter Hutton
D (2): Maury Edwards, Jeremy Dehner
F (3): Andrew Martin*, Jason Tejchma, Elias Godoy*

As with the Honorable Mentions, all three of Hutton, Edwards and Dehner got first-team votes and were therefore clear choices for the Second Team. We felt Martin and Godoy were both in a position where, had Ben Walter stuck around for his senior year, one of them would have easily edged one of our choices for the First Team, and we all admitted that there was internal debate over where they both ended up.

Tejchma, though, is a very interesting case. For one thing, he doesn’t seem like a player that would have ended his career with 96 points, and yet here we are. Add in that he did so despite being on two teams that were genuinely quite bad in his junior and senior seasons, and that he was also a consummate defensive forward and penalty killer, and we think that it’s a travesty he wasn’t another unanimous pick. This is a case where you can actually blame The Third Man, who inexplicably had Treille on his second team instead of Tejchma.

First team

G (1): Cam McCormick
D (2): Ron Hainsey*, Nick Schaus
F (3): Ben Walter*, Ed McGrane*, Kory Falite*

You’ll notice a lot of asterisks here, but first we’ll explain the ones that didn’t get them.

McCormick, one of us argued, was certainly a good goaltender, but the other two of us were basing his inclusion on one season. And that’s a legitimate argument. But his freshman year was for a team that won just nine games, which was coached by Tim Whitehead, which is going to put a damper on anyone’s statistics. And his sophomore year, well, that was all Jimi St. John because McCormick was injured and we’re not about to hold sample size against him.

Nick Schaus is the other non-unanimous choice, and we think that’s a shame. He was the best player on the team in his freshman, junior and now senior seasons. He does everything for the team, and he does it all very, very well. The choice that broke up the unanimous choice was for Jeremy Dehner (whom we love dearly) from, you guessed it, The Third Man.

The other four team members were Hainsey, probably the best player to come through Lowell this decade (and only hurt by his having played two seasons) and an inarguable choice; Ben Walter, the best pure goalscorer Lowell has seen since it went Division 1; Ed McGrane, the best all-around forward at Lowell ever.

And so you must be wondering about the inclusion of Kory Falite, on whom we have occasionally bagged. It’s interesting to note that we all arrived at the pick independent of one another and can’t really say why. It might be that he has more goals this decade than anyone but McGrane, and it might be that he did so on two teams that were either really bad (his freshman year) or pretty bad (his sophomore year). He might’ve taken games off, and he might’ve infuriated us at times, but there’s no denying his immense, game-changing talent. The fact that all three of us picked a player we don’t necessarily love shows exactly why he deserves to be on this list.

Individual Awards

Decade MVP: Ed McGrane*

McGrane had more goals and points than anyone in a Lowell sweater over the past 10 years. And even if that were the end of the credentials, we’re big enough stat geeks that we’d feel like that was plenty. But he was much more than that. He scored eight career shorthanded goals, and he did it largely by himself. Ben Walter was certainly a supreme talent, but the playmaking ability of Elias Godoy and Andrew Martin certainly helped pad his stats a bit. McGrane’s season stat totals were often well ahead of everyone else on the team — and he led the team in scoring each of his last three years at Lowell — and the next guy’s numbers tended to be assist-heavy. Ed McGrane was, without a doubt, the best River Hawk of the Decade.

Best Defensive Player: Matt Collar*

You may find it odd that Collar, our unanimous pick for best defensive player of an entire 10-year period didn’t find himself higher on the list of All-Decade teams than Honorable Mention. But that’s because he was such an exceptional shutdown defenseman that he finished his career with just six goals and 18 points (you’ll note Nick Schaus has 4-14-18 already this season), and people still raved about him. He won four straight Best Defensive Player awards and, while Jeremy Dehner has a chance after winning it his first two seasons and then splitting it with Nick Schaus last year, no one in Lowell history has ever matched that feat.

Unsung Hero: Bobby Robins

Had it not been for Robins, then the 2005-06 season might have ended up under “Never Existed” on the right side of this website. That year, he added an attacking dimension to his game that the worst season of the decade watchable, and we owe him a lot for that.

“Gus” Coutu (given to the player that best exemplifies the spirit of Lowell hockey): Jason Tejchma

We said what we had to say about Tejchma earlier. He combined outstanding offensive skill with an attention to defense rarely matched by anyone on the team, let alone one of its go-to players. It takes a special player to be a leader in two straight 20-loss seasons and never get discouraged, never take a day or even a shift off, and never complain. If you had an entire team of Jason Tejchmas, you would win a whole hell of a lot of games, and you’d deserve it.

Most Improved: Steve Slonina

He scored seven points his freshman year and didn’t seem like he’d turn out to be anything great. But he worked hard and turned into a player that scored 59 points in his career, almost all of them as a junior and senior and he, like Tejchma and McGrane, played excellent defense. Plus we recall that he did fairly well in his career against Northeastern, Lowell’s biggest rival at the time, and that’s always gonna score points with us.

Top Scorer: Ed McGrane, 68-61-129 points in 127 games in this decade

McGrane finished his career with 139 points in 141 games, but he scored 2-8-10 in the first 17 games of the 1999-2000 season, before this decade began. He was, we believe, Lowell’s only point-a-game player in the entire decade. Elias Godoy, whose 42-79-121 in 133 games was a surprisingly close second.

TIIL Player of the Decade (not necessarily MVP but our favorite): Bobby Robins

Who didn’t love watching Robins demolish opponents? Who didn’t love watching him score goals? Who didn’t love that his nickname was “Screaming Buffalo?” Bobby Robins is the kinda player we want every player to be be: skilled, dangerous, and mean as hell. Robins’ emergence as an offensive power to match his preexisting reputation as a force of nature along the boards and in the contested areas was something that made us immensely happy. As if it wasn’t enough that literally every time 23 hopped over the boards there was a legitimate concern that someone on the ice was going to be hospitalized, he added an attacking dimension to his game that made all in Hockey East quake in terror.

We can get behind guys like that. For sure.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott permalink
    December 30, 2009 4:32 am

    One correction – Yorick Treille did play all 4 years at Lowell, not 3.

    • RHHB permalink*
      December 30, 2009 4:34 am

      and how many of those seasons were in this decade?

  2. Scott permalink
    December 30, 2009 4:38 am

    Ah, that is true. It was the wording of “had he stayed more than 3 years” that threw me off.

    • RHHB permalink*
      December 30, 2009 4:40 am

      just went and re-checked, and it says “played longer than three years.” so hooray.

  3. stevo permalink
    December 30, 2009 2:26 pm

    Scott Campbell has been a great player, but his pure NHL style doesnt bode to well for his college game, he will play in the NHL before this season is over.

    • December 30, 2009 6:34 pm

      We like Campbell as much as humanly possible, but he’s not an NHL-quality player right now. He just isn’t. Sorry.

  4. December 30, 2009 8:52 pm

    I would have worried a bit about Campbell leaving after this season, but while he’s still having a good year, I don’t think we’ve seen an improvement on his play from last year (which was great).

  5. Patrick permalink
    December 31, 2009 1:33 am

    I have a hard time believing that somebody who should be “in the NHL before the season is over” (in regards to Campbell) wouldn’t be doing much better all around… but then again I was surprised that certain NHLer JvR wasn’t setting Jeff Panzer/Zack Parise type figures with the hype around him…. I know scoring in college has decreased but you’d think somebody who will be in the NHL in a years time would be far and away the team’s top player.

    I know he had that one great season but seeing Godoy’s stat line there and then seeing how he followed that up in the next two years… I suppose you always hope that successive years will be better. Then again, that whole 05-06 team was frustrating. Last comment, imagine 01-02 with the Frenchmen the whole year and Cam not getting hurt. Here’s to a good twenty-teens.

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