TAMPA - The NCAA announced several key college hockey honors Friday. One went to Aleca Hughes of Westwood, Mass.
Hughes, a senior forward at Yale, was the recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award, given annually to the player that “most personifies true community spirit through the selfless commitment of leadership, effort, and time.’’
Hughes, a repeat finalist, founded the Mandi Schwartz Foundation in memory of her former teammate who succumbed to leukemia a little more than a year ago. Hughes and her teammates held three record-setting marrow donor drives that added more than 2,500 names to the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be The Match’’ registry. She also raised more than $40,000 for Schwartz and her family, as well as for cancer research. She has been involved in other charities as well.
Schwartz’s parents traveled from Wilcox, Saskatchewan, to join Hughes as she accepted the award.
“It’s an incredible honor to win this award, just to be recognized as a role model within the hockey community,’’ said Hughes, who spearheaded another marrow registry drive through “Be A Match’’ on Friday.
“That is incredibly humbling. First and foremost, it’s an honor to accept it because it’s an opportunity to share Mandi’s story with the world and with the hockey community. So many great people have done work in her name, so I am accepting it on their behalf. Mandi has profoundly impacted my life and the lives of other people whether they knew her or not.’’
Hughes said the timing of the award is bittersweet because of how close it is to the anniversary of Schwartz’s death April 3.
“It is emotional but at the same time, the timing is perfect,’’ she said. “We all want to celebrate Mandi’s life and how strong she was as a person, all the goodness that came out of her battle. This ceremony was an opportunity to do that.’’
For the second year in a row, Boston College defenseman Brian Dumoulin was named a first-team All-American in the East. He was joined by Union goaltender Troy Grosenick, Harvard defenseman Danny Biega, and forwards Spencer Abbott (Maine), Alex Killorn (Harvard) and Austin Smith (Colgate). The West team was made up of Ferris State goalie Taylor Nelson, Michigan State defenseman Torey Krug, defenseman Justin Schultz (Wisconsin) and forwards Jack Connolly (Minnesota-Duluth), Jaden Schwartz (Colorado College), and Reilly Smith (Miami).
BC senior forward Barry Almeida, who has had a career year with 39 points, was named to the East’s second team, along with Merrimack goaltender Joe Cannata, defensemen Mat Bodie (Union) and Tim Kirby (Air Force), and forwards Brian O’Neill (Yale) and Jeremy Welsh (Union). In the West, it was Minnesota goaltender Kent Patterson, defensemen Chad Billins (Ferris State) and Dan DeKeyser (Western Michigan), and forwards Nick Bjugstad (Minnesota), J.T. Brown (Minnesota-Duluth) and Jason Zucker (Denver).
Welsh, whose team lost to Ferris State in the semifinals Thursday, is expected to get right back on the ice Saturday - as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes. “I want to see him play, and I’m sure he’ll get some good ice time,’’ Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller told the Associated Press.
Connolly wins Hobey
As expected, Connolly was the recipient of the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in the nation who exhibits strength of character, sportsmanship, and scholastic achievement. Connolly is the brother of Boston University captain Chris Connolly. Connolly thanked his Minnesota-Duluth coaches and teammates and former coaches for the lasting effect they made on his career. “I’d like to thank my family - my mom, Judy, and my dad, Mark, and my brother, Chris, for everything they have done for me,’’ said Connolly, who received the award at MacDill Air Force Base. “Their sacrifice has been unbelievable and their support has meant the world to me.’’ The other finalists in the Hobey hat trick were Abbott and Austin Smith . . . Denver defenseman Joey LaLeggia was named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Division 1 Rookie Of The Year. The runners-up were Scott Wilson of UMass-Lowell, Alex Grieve of Bentley, Alex Guptill of Michigan, and Brian Ferlin of Cornell . . . Brown’s Bobby Farnham received the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award.