I had the chance to go to Monroe, CT at Whitney Farms to be apart of the Sound Tigers Booster Club Awards Dinner. Many of the team’s staff and players were at this event. I will recap the dinner from my view and go over the winners of each award.
The event returned to Whitney Farms Golf Course for the first time in 10 years. The place is a quiet setting, set in the woods in the small town of Monroe. Connor Jones and John Stevens both told me that the team went golfing on the course before the event.
“Lorito has a nice swing, wow,” Jones said on Matt Lorito’s Golf Swing.
Chris Bourque and his son were at the event together, as they played board games with other Sound Tiger fans. I was seated with Stevens and Jones, a throwback to our interview with Jones.
The first award of the night was the first of two Captain Courageous Awards, in honor of Former Islander and Sound Tiger Kevin Colley. Colley’s dad, Tom, was a captain for the New Haven Nighthawks, who were the first AHL affiliate of the Islanders, where Bobby Nystrom and Billy Smith honed their talent before four cups. Colley became a captain for the Sound Tigers, then went on to play in the NHL where unfortunately he had to retire due to an injury on the Island.
As for the first Captain Courageous Award, this went to a Booster Club Member. This one hits close to home for me. George Hassinger has been a member of the Booster Club for a while with his wife Dagny. Unfortunately, George has been diagnosed with cancer recently. I’ve known George my entire life. I went to the same church as him. He is good friends with my grandmother as well, and has been a great family friend of ours. George received a standing ovation from the audience at the event. He was announced by team PA Announcer Alan Longley.
Next up, began the regular awards, first with Center of the Year. Scott and I both selected Travis St. Denis, who won this award although some guys joked with saying “He’s a right winger!” St. Denis has had a strong season and has been a good leader on this squad.
Following the Center of the Year was the Left Winger award. That one went to another guy that Scott and I selected, Michael Dal Colle, who was in Winnipeg at the time of the dinner. Talk about a resurgence, MDC has had just that, and it shows. He had a great season before going up to the Islanders.
Next was the Right Winger award, an award that I presented. The winner was Steve Bernier, a strong veteran who uses his body in front on the power play, and he uses his leadership to help the team out.
Defenseman of the Year was next, and this one came as a surprise. Probably the most electric guy on the team, also the team jokester, Seth Helgeson won the award. He has had a good season defensively and is the team’s tough guy and one of its leaders.
Following this was the goalie of the year, where it was a tie with Jeremy Smith and Chris Gibson. So the cool thing about this was that the presenter had a puck to do a coin toss. Smith picked heads, and it landed on heads, so Jeremy Smith won the toss.
Next was Rookie of the Year. Not much surprise here as Otto Koivula won this award. In my opinion, he will go on to be on the AHL All-Rookie Team. Koivula has probably the best hands on the team.
The Paul Martinez Unsung Hero award is named after late Sound Tigers fan Paul Martinez and goes to the player who gives it his all, even without scoring a lot. The winner was Chris Casto, someone who hasn’t played every night, but gives it his all, and is quiet but useful.
The Barbara Wargo Memorial “For the Love of the Game” award went to the player who exemplified someone who works hard, no matter if he doesn’t score many goals. This one went to Connor Jones, who is a fan favorite but is one of the most tenacious players in Sound Tigers history. He really deserved this award.
Next up was the final award as voted on by the members of the Booster Club. The Fan Favorite Award, an award that usually goes to someone who is either a tough guy or just a great guy (Eric Goddard, I’m looking at you). The winner of the award was Michael Dal Colle. Dal Colle is just a great guy, say what you want, but I think he’s going to be up with the Islanders for good now.
The Final Award of the evening was the Player Award for the Kevin Colley Captain Courageous award. Chris Bourque won the award, which was well deserved, going back to what he has done in his AHL career.
Following the awards was a fun team superlatives. The Best Chef was Seth Helgeson. The “Most likely to be late” was Joshua Ho-Sang. Kieffer Bellows got up and sang “The Greatest Showman” and Chris Casto went up and strut his stuff as the most likely to be a model. It was a fun night by all and shows how tight this team is.
PLAYOFF SPOT: CLINCHED! + other news and happening.
Lastly, this past Saturday the Sound Tigers clinched their spot into the 2019 Calder Cup Playoffs after a 4-3 win over Providence in front of a big crowd at Webster Bank Arena. Oliver Wahlstrom scored his first career goal on a ripper on the power-play (PP). The Sound Tigers PP has looked better since Grant Hutton has joined the fray. The former Miami (OH) captain has been the missing piece. Ryan Bourque scored two goals in this game to help lead the team to the win. The Sound Tigers’ magic number for home ice is down to five. They will most likely play the Hershey Bears. Stay tuned for a Playoff Series Preview!
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