Hockey team names award winners
The Air Force hockey team announced its 2004-05 award winners at its annual Blue Line Club banquet, Sunday, April 3, at the Wyndham Hotel in Colorado Springs.
Junior Matt Bader earned the team's top award, the Vic Heyliger Award. The Heyliger, voted on by the team, is the cornerstone of Air Force hockey. It is awarded to the player whose dedication, character, leadership and work ethic exemplifies Falcon Hockey. A tri-captain this season, Bader's leadership and all-around play were keys to the Falcons winning 14 games this season. An academic all-CHA selection, the winger from Beaverton, Ore., played in 33 of the 36 games and had 12 points. His career-best two goals against Army led the Falcons to a 5-2 win over the Black Knights.
Sophomore Brandon Merkosky earned the Chuck Delich award as the team's most valuable player. The award is voted on by the team. The winger from Queensbury, N.Y., led the team in goals (14), assists (17) and points (31). He was second in the CHA and 14th in the nation with 10 power-play goals. He is just the third sophomore in school history, and the first since 1978, to win the MVP award.
The Larry Cronk Award was presented to senior Seth Pelletier. The Cronk, voted on by the team, is presented to the player whose play on the ice inspires his team and most typifies Falcon hockey. The winger from China, Maine, is a tenacious competitor who gave 110 percent on every shift. He posted career-highs of six goals and 16 points this season.
The John Matchefts Award for freshman of the year, voted on by the team, was split between two stellar rookies. Defensemen Matt Charbonneau and center Eric Ehn were named co-winners. Both were named to the CHA all-rookie team. Charbonneau, from Stillwater, Minn., played in all 36 games and had 12 points. In CHA games, his +2 plus/minus ratio was second in the league for rookie defensemen. Ehn, from Dexter, Mich., ranked second in the CHA in league points by a freshman with 14. He was fourth on the team in points in all games with 22.
Sophomore Brian Gineo was named the team's defensive player of the year. This award is given to the player who the coaching staff feels was the team's most diligent defensive performer. Defensive habits and skill, along with plus-minus, are factors used to select the recipient. A native of South Windsor, Conn., Gineo, a second-team all-CHA selection, is just the second Falcon sophomore and second defenseman to earn the award. His nine goals this season were the fifth most in the nation by a defenseman.
Ross Miller earned the Jim Bowman Award as the team's top scholar-athlete. Miller is a two-time CHA all-academic selection who carries a 3.07 cumulative grade point average as a physics major. Miller played in 76 career games, but his playing time over the last two seasons was limited due to various injuries.
Sophomore Brian Reese was named the team's most improved player for the 2004-05 season. The award is voted on by the team. After an injury-plagued freshman year, the winger from Stillwater, Minn., played in 24 games and had five points. He played in the final 12 games of the year and worked himself onto a power-play unit.
The Falcons, 14-19-3 overall and 5-14-1 in the CHA, also bid farewell to five seniors from the class of 2005. Seniors Pelletier, Steve Mead, Ross Miller, Josh Priewe and Ryan Wiggins will leave as one of the most successful classes in school history. The group combined to win 50 Division I games in four years, the most in school history. The class also set a new school record with nine Division I road wins and tied the school record with 14 Division I victories this season. The seniors also guided a young team to the championship of a major Division I tournament, the RPI Tournament, and led the Falcons into the semifinals of the CHA Tournament for just the second time in school history.