Welcome to the official unveiling of the 2013-14 CHL Best of the Best Poll! Zach Courter and I will go over each team’s awards. We will also have a full statistical breakdown for you at the bottom of the page, plus you can listen to our podcast as we go over each award. Without further adieu, let’s get started.
The Americans took home a plethora of awards in the best of the best awards. Taking seven first place categories and placing in 19 categories overall. Tyler Ludwig took first in best offensive defenseman, as well as second in the hardest shooter category. Alex Lavoie was given the best rookie nod, while Trevor Hendrikx was noted as the third best body-checker. Off the ice the Americans cleaned house, adding the second best training and equipment staff, second most annoying fans, and best team uniforms and second best logo. Tommy Daniels was given the best broadcaster title, while the Allen Ice Angels were given the best cheerleading and dance team category. Allen was also acknowledged in the best city, best concessions, best arena music, best locker rooms, and best ice surface categories. Lastly, the Americans took second in the most skilled team category.
The Arizona Sundogs received four awards in the Best of the Best poll. In his first year in the Central Hockey League, goaltender Andrew Engelage received 33 overall votes enroute to the award of Best Goaltender. Engelage beat out fellow netminders Tim Boron and Shane Owen.
Forward Jason Morgan picked up two awards; best player on face-offs and best leader. In the face-off category, Morgan beat out Todd Robinson in Tulsa and Martin Hlinka in St Charles. When it comes to best leader, Morgan has been the Sundogs Captain for his duration in the desert and even acted as coach during the team’s transition last season. In this category, he beat out fellow captains Scott Wray in Rapid City and Aaron MacKenzie in Denver.
Every team and league needs a pest. They are critical to a hockey team because those players can help shift the momentum in the game with an extra facewash, saying the wrong thing to the opposing player or by their physical play on the ice. This year’s most annoying player award goes to Sebastian Geoffrion. If you have ever seen Geoffrion play, you can definitely tell he plays with an edge and tries to sucker other teams into taking an extra penalty.
In their inaugural season in the Central Hockey League, the Brampton Beast picked up two awards in the Best of the Best poll. Calin Wild, in his fourth season in the CHL, has earned his first award in the Best Defensive Forward category. So far this season, Wild has 33 points in 58 games and is a -4 on the season.
The Beast also picked up the best logo award. The Beast held a logo design competition during the offseason and picked a very slick logo.
Voters selected the ice at the Powerade Centre as the second best in the league, behind Rapid City.
Andrew Darrigo was third in the league’s best fighter (pound-for-pound) category, while head coach Mark DeSantis was third in the best coach polling.
The Denver Cutthroats claimed seven awards in this year’s Best of the Best. Garett Bembridge collected the Best Overall Player, Most Valuable to His Team, and Best on the Power Play awards.
Forward AJ Gale is known around the league for his ability to break plays open with his speed. Now, he is finally being recognized for it. Gale has been named the fastest skater in the CHL, beating out Vladimir Nikiforov of Quad City and Konrad Reeder of Rapid City.
Fellow forward Troy Schwab won the league’s best stickhandler award, beating out Jesse Schultz of Rapid City and Ryan Menei from Tulsa. It takes a good set of hands and excellent hand-eye coordination under pressure to pull off some of the moves each of these guys can pull off.
Best fighter, pound-for-pound, goes to Daniel Amesbury for the second straight year. Amesbury beat out Wichita’s Dustin Donaghy and Andrew Darrigo from Brampton.
The best use of social media award also goes to the Cutthroats. The Fish have 3,478 followers on Twitter and over 18,000 likes on Facebook.
The Missouri Mavericks took home 13 first place categories in the fifty category best of the best awards. Sebastien Thinel led the way individually taking home five categories, including first in best playmaker and best shooter in the shootouts. Colt King captured three awards displaying his diversity as a player. King was first in best power forward and best fighter, and a second place finish with best body checker. The toughness and skill were recognized by Missouri, however their friendly demeanor was acknowledged as well. Mike Ramsay and Eric Castonguay were first and second in the most gentlemanly category. Scott Hillman was also given a second place nod as the best coach. Off of the bench the Mavericks were given plenty of credit as well, with mentions in the best training and equipment staff, best fans, toughest building to win in, and best arena. Missouri also took home best team website, best on ice promotions, best PA announcer, and best mascot first place votes.
Quad City Mallards:
The Quad City Mallards took home three categories in this year’s poll. Perhaps the most public award for Mallard fans is the Best Coach award, which goes to Terry Ruskowski. In his almost two complete seasons behind the Mallard bench, he is 62-46-16. Scott Hillman for Missouri and Mark DeSantis from Brampton were the others in the category.
One of the things Ruskowski has instilled in the Mallards since arriving is an atmosphere that his team will out-work anybody, on any given night. Voters across the league have recognized that and this year, gave the Mallards the nod as the hardest working team.
Perhaps one of the players who has most gone “under the radar” this season is Gergo Nagy. In 56 games played this season, Nagy has 48 points (18G, 30A) and has played on the first and second lines at time this year in place of Jim McKenzie, who has been in the American Hockey League all season. Nagy has also spent time in the American Hockey League.
The Mallard organization also received accolades for the best public address announcer, best mascot (Mo Mallard,) and hardest building to play in (I-Wireless Center.)
Rapid City Rush:
The Rush took home the second most categories in the best of the best poll, placing in 23 of 50 categories. The Rush spread out the love in the individual categories, placing nine different players in those categories. Jesse Schultz took three categories including second best stick handler, third best playmaker, and second best shooter in the shootouts. Tim Boron was voted best overall goalie in the shootouts, and second best goalie overall. Winston Day Chief took home honors in the most underrated and best power forward categories. Captain Scott Wray was voted the second best leader, while on the other side of the puck, Anthony Perdicaro was voted the third most annoying player. Off the ice the Rush took home best training staff, best booster club, best ice surface, and best arena music. The fans in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center were voted the second best fans in the league. First year play by play guy, Mark Binetti, was voted third best broadcaster. Lastly the Rapid City Rush were voted the most skilled team in the Central Hockey League.
St. Charles Chill:
The inaugural season for the St. Charles Chill may not be going as planned in the standings, but the Chill were recognized in the best of the best in several facets of the first year club. The Chill were given second place in the hardest working team category, proving that a record does not indicate how much effort a team puts out every night. Martin Hlinka was noted as the third best player on the face-offs. Off the ice St. Charles was given third place in the best mascot category and second in the best press box.
The Tulsa Oilers are having a resurgent season and will likely be among the eight teams vying for a CHL championship in just a few weeks. In this year’s Best of the Best Poll, the Oilers brought home two awards; Best Body Checker (Kyle Bochek) and Best Game Notes.
Bochek is a player who any team would be lucky to have on their team. He has playmaking ability with his hands, as shown by his 49 points (15G, 34A) in 54 games. He also has 171 penalty minutes, which leads the team.
The Oilers Ben Gordon also took second in the best overall player category. Gordon has filled in admirably in the absence of Oiler superstar Todd Robinson. Gordon has 83 points (35G, 48A) in 57 games this season.
Ryan Menei also picked up accolades as best stickhandler.
The Oiler organization took second in the best arena and best locker room polls.
While the Thunder have struggled in consistency this year on the ice, the consistency with bringing home awards has maintained. The Thunder took home awards in 12 categories, including second best booster club. They also received nods in the best host hotel and best public address announcer. Wichita repeated in first place in three different categories, best arena, best locker rooms, and most annoying fans. While most annoying fans has become synonymous with Wichita, they also were voted third best fans. Two tough guys took home awards for Wichita, Erick Lizon was voted second best fighter in the heavyweight category, and Dustin Donaghy was voted second best pound for pound fighter. Team captain Andrew Martens was voted second best offensive defenseman, and Jesse Dudas was voted first in the hardest shooter category.
Here is a complete voting breakdown:
Our thanks to Bob Hoffman with the Central Hockey League for working with us to unveil this year’s Best of the Best Poll!