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The 2009-10 TIIL Awards for Excellent Excellence

March 17, 2010

Well we were hoping to be able to hold these awards off another few weeks at least, but the time, apparently, has come ’round at last.

Over the course of the year we had a bit of a debate about whether we should do these yearly awards (we never did them at the old River Hawk Hockey Blog) but we figure, at this point, why not? But making up awards is hard work, especially once you get out of the whole “Team MVP” category, so we came up with a plan.

What we decided to do, mostly out of pure laziness, was to just to copy both the Lowell yearly awards and Hockey East yearly awards and give them to the players and coaches we thought most deserving. Then we threw in some really mean-spirited ones of our own at the end. Enjoy.

We’ll lead off with the Lowell-only awards.

MVP: Carter Hutton

What more can you say about a kid that stole more games than Lowell deserved and put up the best statistical season (and career) of any goaltender in Lowell history? It’s no coincidence that the only season at Lowell in which he was healthy from start to finish was a complete and unequivocal success. That the team couldn’t win in front of him is hardly his fault, not with a line of 2.04/.928. The numbers speak for themselves.

Best Defensive Player: Carter Hutton

Obviously.

Unsung Hero: Colin Wright

Unlike many River Hawks this season, Wright was one player where you never went, “Look who’s taking a shift off,” or “Look who’s making a stupid play,” or “Man, look who just got turnstiled.” Wright was always there, working hard, making smart plays and being solid in his own end (though we’d expect little else from a converted defenseman). And speaking of being a converted defenseman, he became a forward for the good of the team and never looked out of his depth. By the way, do you know how many Lowell rookies have scored seven goals in their the since the turn of the century? Ten: Colin Wright, David Vallorani, Scott Campbell, Jason Bergeron, Kory Falite, Jason Tejchma, Andrew Martin, Danny O’Brien, Elias Godoy, Laurent Meunier. Not bad company for the kid.

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

Nick Schaus kills people, Nick Schaus plays strong defense, Nick Schaus puts up points. What else could you possibly want out of a hockey player?

Most Improved: Chris Auger

This wasn’t even close. For a player with 8-21-29 in 81 career games to score another 9-14-23 in 35 is incredible. He also improved his defensive game considerably and actually looked like the player that we were told we’d see when he first came to Lowell. It’s too bad injuries played such a part in his career. He could have been excellent.

Top Rookie: Riley Wetmore

While he was occasionally slightly frustrating (i.e. his penchant for penalties when there was already a guy in the box), he was far more often one of the guys that helped Lowell right the ship when it was listing. He’s an excellent forechecker in the Mark Roebothan mold and we think that, over time, he can become one of the team’s best forwards. He also put up 15 points, a rare feat for a Lowell rookie, despite his ice time being limited by the many seniors and juniors on the team. It gives us a little hope that next year won’t be a total disaster.

TIIL Player of the Year: Jeremy Dehner

No player besides Carter Hutton was more important to this team’s success than Dehner. The team went 18-12-4 (.588 win percentage) with Dehner in the lineup, and 1-4-0 (.200) without him. It also went from scoring 3.09 per game with him to 1.80 in his absence. We loved watching Dehner in each of his four years at Lowell. One of our favorite River Hawks ever and one of the top-3 all-around defenseman to ever play at Lowell.

TIIL Three Stars Award (based only on home games, with three points for a No. 1 star, two for No. 2 and one for No. 3): David Vallorani and Scott Campbell

Vallorani and Campbell tied for the team lead with 15 points, but we list Vallorani first because he had three first-place votes (tied for the lead with Chris Auger) to Campbell’s two. Full Standings are as follows.

  1. Vallorani and Campbell: 15
  2. Hutton and Schaus: 11
  3. Auger: 9
  4. Falite and Dehner: 7
  5. Holmstrom and Wetmore: 5
  6. Worthington and Hamilton: 4
  7. Capraro: 3
  8. Budd: 2
  9. Scheu and Cey: 1

Vallorani and Campbell won the award by posting home stat lines of 6-11-17 and 11-5-16 in 17 home games, respectively. Their 17 total home goals accounts for nearly 28 percent of Lowell’s total home offensive output.

And now the League-wide awards…

Shocking admission: We tried to be level-headed here. No homerism from us for these. Hold onto your butts.

League All-Star teams:

First team:

Gustav Nyquist-Bobby Butler-Stephane Da Costa
Jeremy Dehner-Blake Kessel
Carter Hutton

The three highest-scoring forwards in the league, the best all-around defensemen (apologies to Jeff Dimmen, but the kid was plus-3 in league play despite 12 goals and 25 points), and the best goalie. Don’t know what else you’d want here.

Second team:

Cam Atkinson-James Marcou-Brian Flynn
Justin Braun-David Warsofsky
Parker Milner

It’s the next three highest-scoring forwards minus Brian Gibbons, a solid defenseman in Braun and our favorite non-Lowell player to watch in Warsofsky, plus Parker Milner who was a wall for BC down the stretch.

All-Rookie team:

Stephane Da Costa-Alex Chiasson-Steve Whitney
Jake Newton-Kyle Bigos
Parker Milner

Da Costa was obviously a slam dunk, and Chiasson was too, but less so. We stretched for Whitney because we thought he came on gangbusters when BC was playing some mediocre overall hockey around the middle of the year. Newton was obviously pretty damn good if he’s already signed a pro contract, and while Bigos’ numbers aren’t overwhelming, he was a huge physical factor in every Merrimack game we saw. As for Milner, well, see above.

League Rookie of the Year: Stephane Da Costa

If you crack open a dictionary and look up the definition of “landslide,” there’s a picture of Da Costa with a trophy.

League Coach of the Year: Mark Dennehy

Merrimack almost had home ice this season. They missed a tie for third by two points. Go ahead and think about that, then try to give us a reason he doesn’t deserve this award.

League MVP: Gustav Nyquist

UNH had its fair share of good players this season, but imagine where Maine would’ve been without Nyquist. The kid led the country in points. End of discussion.

League Best Defensive Defenseman: Jeremy Dehner

We know the league already gave this award to Justin Braun, and we think it’s ridiculous. Remember that thing we did about Dehner’s importance to the team earlier this year? Yeah, we went and looked up Braun’s numbers as well and the total results weren’t pretty. Y’see, Dehner was on the ice for 26 of Lowell’s 81 goals against in his 34 games (.76 GA/game), or 32.1 percent. Braun? On the ice for 51 of the Minutemen’s 117 against (1.42 GA/gm), or 43.6 percent. But yeah, Braun’s way better defensively.

League Best Defensive Forward: Ben Holmstrom

At least we were vindicated with this one!

TIIL Opponent Schadenfreude Award: WRBB Sports’ Jared Shafran

Let’s go back to Jan. 9 of this year. Lowell and Northeastern are embroiled in a bitter contest in which the River Hawks jumped out to a 4-1 lead but had let it slip away, allowing Northeastern to make the game 5-4. Before Wade “WADE MACLEOD” MacLeod netted the equalizer to cap a four-goal third period, which is where this wonderful, wonderful 50-second clip begins. It ends, of course, with Lowell winning 6-5 in overtime.

Click here to download it.

The rapid transition between unbridled, near-sexual joy he got from MacLeod’s late equalizer and the utter depths of his loss-related despondency are too hysterical for words. Our particular favorite highlights include but are not limited to: 1) the way Shafran says, “WADE MACLEOD” through a smile so big it’s actually audible, 2) his voice trembling at “It’s SO fitting,” and 3) his exasperated declaration that “PEOPLE LEFT! People left the game.”

Juxtaposed with that 15 seconds or so of overwhelming glee is his correction of the play-by-play call, clearly coming from a face buried in hands, “It was Scheu. It was Michael Scheu.”

It’s beautiful.

TIIL Best Blog Award*: Fear the Triangle

Much as it pains us to admit it, FtT, a blog about *shudder* UMass Amherst of all teams, is the best blog in Hockey East. It’s loaded with information and relatively down-the-middle commentary. If it does have a downside, it is, of course, Amherst homerism like the absurd statement that Justin Braun is the best defensive defenseman in Hockey East (we dispelled that myth earlier), and that its existence spawned a number of other Amherst blogs that are nowhere near the FtT level of quality.

*Obviously TIIL is the best blog in Hockey East in the way that Stephane Da Costa is the league’s best rookie, but we removed ourselves from consideration mainly due to our magnanimity and largesse.

TIIL Fanbase Doesn’t Get the Bit Award: UMass Amherst

We got a whole hell of a lot of unpublishable emails from Amherst fans upset with us for one of three things:

  1. Calling it “Amherst” and not simply “UMass.” (We do this specifically to annoy you. Mission accomplished.)
  2. Our insistence, at various points, that Amherst wasn’t that good. (As it happens, we were right. Of course.)
  3. Our stated belief that Lowell lost its home-and-home series with the Minutemen rather than Amherst winning it. (Less provable, still right.)

The actual number of emails from Amherst fans: 139, most of which came on account of the first and third points. Amherst fans also flooded the site with comments any time their favorite team was derided, which was often, and voted the offending posts as being one-star, which, not coincidentally, is also known as “Amherstian.” They also thumbs-upped every pro-Minutemen comment and thumbs-downed every pro-Lowell comment. But our favorite thing they did was come up with.. ahem, cute names for our blog. Many emails began, “Dear ______,” where the blank was filled in with things like “The Lice is Life” (clever!), “The Losers Life” (clearly inspired by Amherst), and our personal favorite “The Get a Life.”

They teach a lot of courses out at Amherst. Having a Sense of Humor 101 clearly isn’t one of them.

Anyway, thanks, everyone, for making this season by far the most successful in RHHB/TIIL history, and for all your comments (even the really stupid ones), and your emails (except the ones we had to forward to the FBI) and for being a really, really, really smart part of the reason we have the best hockey blog ever.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 18, 2010 12:22 am

    You like me, you really really like me!

    Thanks for the comments on FTT. I do get the bit and when I read through all the blind hatred for UMass and the deliciously sarcastic humor it’s obvious that you guys have an excellent hockey and writing acumen. Therefore I appreciate where the compliment is coming from.

    And for the record, I said Braun was the best two-way defenseman. The defensive defenseman award surprised me a bit. But I’ll trust the judgement of the HEA coaches on that one.

    The Milner pick for second team is a bit out of left field given how few overall games he played, but a good one. Can’t say I disagree.

    • RHHB permalink*
      March 18, 2010 12:34 am

      what were we gonna do? give friggin’ rawlings the award? kid didn’t even make the playoffs and had a worse league GAA than dainton.

  2. March 18, 2010 6:17 am

    Good job guys! See you again next season!

  3. UMassFan permalink
    March 19, 2010 3:37 am

    “spawned a number of other Amherst blogs that are nowhere near the FtT level of quality.”

    So true.

    • March 19, 2010 6:46 am

      In our defense, we’re not at all trying to be another FtT, because that would be silly. The entire point of starting Fight Mass was to try and connect more with the student base, really the only thing Rocks can’t do since he’s, you know, not a student anymore and such. Unfortunately, the way we went about it in the beginning was all wrong, especially my ill-advised foray into the comparative history of UMass and Lowell. I realize I didn’t do any favors to a student section already infamous for knowing nothing about hockey, and it didn’t help when I prioritized “firing up students who are apathetic toward Lowell” over “getting facts straight.” I do thank the TIIL boys for gently steering us away from that path. Our goal is still to fire up the student base, but for all the right reasons now. We’ll get it right eventually, and we certainly think we’re on the right track.

      Honestly, we know it means less than nothing coming from us, but TIIL is as enjoyable a hockey read as there is on the web, and all the hatred for Lowell in the world can’t change the fact that we’ve eagerly anticipated every new post this season, even in the weeks where our team lost and Lowell won. We’ve sort of collectively gone from “lol, what a silly thing that UMass-Lowell has a hockey team” to a strange sort of awe and respect that we frankly cannot fully explain. Mission accomplished. See you next year, where both of our teams will probably miss the Hockey East playoffs given all the departures.

      (and by the way, we agree on Braun and Dehner)

  4. stevo permalink
    March 19, 2010 8:17 pm

    I was lmao when i read this and all the love for dehner, then i remembered all that you wrote about schaus back in december., I think braun is better than dehner because braun did it without having schaus as a de partner like dehner did, plus i noticed one thing schaus had more points than dehner, and did all the dirty work. But I guess thats what happens when you dont put up more points in the second half then the first. Good luck to both I think Schaus will suprise somepeople at the next level.(I heard he signed a NHL contract, which if is true I am not suprised)

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