DURHAM, UK – Then Pro Hockey News NIHL North Moralee Conference Awards were set up last season to reward the top performers in NIHL North as prior to then there was no recognition for the top players in the division. The awards were that well received last season that the leagues governing body the EIHA have got behind them and this year’s awards and those in future years will all be in association with the leagues governing body.
The main awards are of course Player of the Year and Coach of the Year while a Young Player of the Year category is a newly introduced award for this season. An all star team of the season is also part of the awards with 3 lines of out skaters chosen alongside the 2 top netminders. The winners of the awards were announced last Saturday evening at the NIHL North Play Off weekend in Dumfries, Scotland following the conclusion of the 2nd semi final match up.
The Young Player of the Year Award saw Connor Henderson (Solway Sharks), Jonathan Kirk (Sheffield Spartans) and Jack Davies (Billingham Stars) all shortlisted for the accolade. The voting was extremely tight in this category and Jonathan Kirk claimed the award for his superb season on the blue line for the Spartans. Lynn Faber Sheffield Spartans team manager was in attendance to collect the award on Jonathan’s behalf.
The Coach of the Year award saw Martin Grubb of the Solway Sharks shortlisted alongside Simon Leach of the Whitley Warriors and Jared Owen who is player/coach of the Blackburn Hawks. Martin Grubb claimed the trophy for the 2nd season in succession after his Sharks side enjoyed another superb campaign in NIHL North hockey winning all 3 of the competitions they entered. Martin was present to be handed the award by Pro Hockey News editor Chris Mackenzie and the NIHL North Manager Charles Dacres.
The Player of the Year award saw a great number of players nominated however only 4 candidates picked up several votes. Struan Tonnar of the Solway Sharks was the 4th most popular choice in the voting for the NIHL North Player of the Year just behind his teammate Juraj Senko. The 2 leading forwards in the division Adam Brittle(Blackburn Hawks) and Lukas Zeman (Manchester Minotaurs) both received a huge number of votes however it was Adam Brittle who was named Player of the Year just edging Lukas Zeman out once all the votes had been gathered and counted.
The first 2 lines of the all star teams were announced at the presentation night and are listed below along with the 3rd all star line up.
All Star Team 1st line
Danny Brittle (Blackburn Hawks)
Juraj Senko (Solway Sharks) Andy Munroe (Billingham Stars)
Adam Reynolds (Whitley Warriors) Adam Brittle (Blackburn Hawks) Lukas Zeman (Manchester Minotaurs)
Dmitri Zimzodra (Sutton Sting)
Chris Arnone (Blackburn Hawks), Ritchie Thornton (Billingham Stars)
Struan Tonnar (Solway Sharks), Stuart Brittle (Sheffield Spartans), Chris Sykes (Sutton Sting)
Andy Finn (Billingham Stars), Craig Mitchell (Solway Sharks)
Stephen Wallace (Billingham Stars), Iain Bowie (Solway Sharks), DJ Good (Whitley Warriors)
In the voting for the all star team a total of 8 goaltenders received nominations with last years winner Dmitri Zimzodra and Gary Russell both proving to be popular choices however it was Blackburn Hawks goalie Daniel Brittle who was voted netminder of the season in NIHL North.
Eighteen defenceman received votes in this years’ awards with a blue liner from every team in the division receiving support. Solway Sharks d man Juraj Senko was an extremely popular choice as he received votes from over 50% of those who were able to nominate the talented import d man.
Twenty forwards received votes this year with Adam Brittle and Lukas Zeman both being popular choices which saw them both command a spot on the first line of the all star team. Adam Reynolds of the Whitley Warriors joined them on the top offensive line which rewarded him for the fine season he had for the Hillheads based outfit.
Looking forward next year’s awards will be expanded with more categories being introduced, one possible new award is fans favourite player where fans from around the league would be able to cast their votes for their favourite NIHL North performer over the course of the campaign.
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