After this weekend’s action, almost every team in the SPHL (glares at Fayetteville) has hit the halfway point of their respective seasons. We figure that’s a good time to stop and take stock of where the league is at, and hand out some pretend awards that are probably more important and meaningful than the actual year-end awards they get from the league.
Alec Hagaman, Peoria Rivermen
Insanely difficult category to pick from, but Hagaman gets the nod ever so slightly based on this weird and kind of amazing fact: He’s the only Peoria player among the Top-19 in the league in scoring, so he’s shined brightest on a very deep team. He’s second in the league in scoring, two points back of Austin Plevy of Evansville, but has done it in three fewer games. He’s third in goals, and again, is the biggest standout on the best team in the league so far. Again, really tough category where you could argue that 2-3 other guys could win this award, and you would absolutely have a case.
Honorable Mention: Austin Plevy, Evansville; Bryce Nielsen, Knoxville
Rookie of the Year
Austin Plevy, Evansville Thunderbolts
The league’s leading scorer with 37 points in 29 games, he’s tied for the rookie lead in goals, leads all rookies in assists and power play assists. Really, this was a pretty easy category to pick when you consider that Plevy is right there for league MVP as well.
Honorable Mention: Jacob Smith, Evansville; Ricky Kramer, Knoxville
Defenseman of the Year
Jesse Kessler, Pensacola Ice Flyers
Another really tough category to pick from, but Kessler gets the nod for his all-around play for the Ice Flyers this season. He’s among the Top-10 in scoring on the season, is second in the league among defensemen in plus-minus, and for the most part stays on the ice. Yes there are more impressive players offensively, but you also need to keep the puck out of your own net, and Kessler has helped the Ice Flyers do that in a big way.
Honorable Mention: Ricky Kramer, Knoxville; Matt Fuller, Birmingham; Donald Olivieri, Fayetteville
Goalie of the Year
Max Milosek, Huntsville Havoc
This is another tough category, because some goalies have comparable numbers…but Milosek has been an absolute workhorse this season, appearing in 21 games, leading the league in minutes played, leading the league in wins with 16, fifth in Sv% at .926, and second in the league with a 2.00 GAA. Really great season so far, and the Havoc have needed it with how their backup has played so far. What also made this category difficult is trying to figure out who else qualifies with all the call-ups to the ECHL this season. Lots of great goalies in the SPHL this season.
Honorable Mention: Jake Kupsky, Pensacola; Eric Levine, Peoria; Peter Di Salvo, Quad City
Coach of the Year
Jesse Kallechy, Fayetteville Marksmen
The Marksmen, as is usually the case with most good teams in the SPHL, have had what feels like a million call-ups to the ECHL, including the league’s leading goalie at the time more than a month ago. Through it all, Kallechy has the Marksmen in solo second-place, just three points back of first with a game in-hand, and the second-best goal differential in the league, all with the fewest penalty minutes in the league. After an eighth-place finish last season, Kallechy has taken the Marksmen to a new level this season.
Honorable Mention: Jean-Guy Trudel, Peoria; Jeff Bes, Evansville
Coming tomorrow, we’ll issue the same awards for the FPHL.