April 1, 2012
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - Air Force senior Paul Weisgarber earned three major awards and senior defenseman Tim Kirby was named the most valuable player at the 2012 Air Force hockey banquet, presented by the Falcon Blue Line Club, Sunday, April 1, at Embassy Suites Hotel in Colorado Springs.
Weisgarber, a senior winger from Fargo, N.D., earned the Jim Bowman Award as the team's top scholar-athlete, the Larry Cronk Award as the most inspirational player and the Vic Heyliger Award for character, dedication, leadership and work ethic. Weisgarber carries a 3.60 cumulative grade point average and has a 3.95 in his major of management. A French minor and a team captain this season, he is also a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award. Weisgarber never missed a game in his four years, setting a new school record with 155 consecutive games played. With two goals and two assists, he was named to the AHA all-tournament team. His leadership as team captain was critical to the team winning the regular season and tournament titles. He finished the season with 24 points on six goals and 18 assists. The Heyliger and Cronk awards are voted on by the team while the Bowman is chosen by the academic committee. The Heyliger is named after the team's first coach while the Cronk and Bowman are named after former coaches/athletic administrators who made major contributions to the hockey program.
Weisgarber is the only player in school history to earn six major awards in his career. He also won the Heyliger, Bowman and Cronk awards as a junior. He is just the second player to ever win the Heyliger Award in back-to-back seasons.
"For the most part, our competitive hockey days are over," Weisgarber said following the loss to Boston College at the NCAA Tournament. "We have obligations that are, in our opinion, a little bit more important than hockey, and that is serving our country. We are proud to do that and are ready to do that. We've had four years of top of the line training with academics, the military and athletics, so we're ready to take that next step and lead our country."
Kirby, a senior from Austin, Minn., earned the Chuck Delich Award as the team MVP award. He is the first defenseman in the last 16 years, and just the sixth in school history, to be named team MVP. The award, voted on by the team, is named after the Falcons' all-time leading scorer and the all-time leading goal scorer in NCAA history. Kirby was named the AHA Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker finalist. He was the top scoring defenseman in the league with 28 points. His 12 goals are the third most in the nation by a defenseman. Kirby, along with Weisgarber, set a new school record by playing in 155 consecutive games.
Freshman Scott Holm, from Plymouth, Minn., earned the most improved player award as voted on by the team. Holm scored just three points in his first 21 games. Then in his final 11 games, he had five goals and two assists, including a four-game goal-scoring streak down the stretch. He finished the season with six goals and four assists for 10 points.
Freshman Cole Gunner, from Richfield, Minn., earned the John Matchefts Award as the team's top freshman. The award, voted on by the team, is named in honor of the Falcons' second coach. Gunner was among the nation's top freshman scorers all season. He finished the season with 28 points on eight goals and 20 assists, to rank fifth in the league and 22nd in the nation. With two goals in the AHA Final Four, he was named to the all-tournament team.
Sophomore forward Jason Fabian, from Roseau, Minn., earned the defensive player of the year award. This award is presented to the defensive player who the coaching staff feels was the team's most diligent defensive performer. Defensive habits and skill with plus-minus ratio are factors used to select the recipient. Fabian not only embraced his role as a defensive forward, he excelled at it. He blocked more shots than any other Falcon forward and was a +7 on the season. He took more faceoffs than any other player and won a team high 61 percent of them. He finished the season with nine goals and 14 points, including four points at the AHA Final Four to help lead the Falcons to the tournament championship. He is the first forward to ever win this award. --30--