- Created: 22 February 2017
After a season that saw records fall and history made, the Eugene Generals unveiled this year's team awards at the 12th annual Eugene Generals Team Banquet, held yesterday at The Rink Exchange.
Categories included Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player, Player's Choice Award and the Bobby Freeland "Hard Hat" Award.
Awards were also given out to honor the dedicated people that work behind the scenes to make Generals hockey possible, including Host Family of the Year and the Norma J. Evans Volunteer of the Year Award.
Without further ado, the winners are...
Most Valuable Player - Christopher Alexakis
Nominees: Christopher Alexakis, Cody Arbelovsky, Logan Sanders
When fellow nominees include the team captain and the league's leading goal scorer, you must've had a truly incredible season to have edged them out for MVP. That's exactly what Christopher Alexakis did as the Anchorage native finished the season with 20 wins, third-most in the USP3, and a .927 save percentage. His 2.28 goals against average broke the single-season franchise record previously held by Mario Retana (2.41: 2009-10).
"More than anything," said Head Coach Justin Kern, "I think that his performances during those showcase games in particular really illustrated his importance to our team. We didn't play anywhere near our best while at the I.H.C. Showcase, but he was a monster in net and kept us in every single game that he played."
At the 2016 USPHL Midwest Showcase, that stellar play from Alexakis continued and he was in net as the team claimed it first-ever USPHL Showcase Series win, a 5-2 victory over the Alpena Flyers (27 saves) followed the next day by a 3-1 win over the Motor City Hawks in which Alexakis was also in net (25 saves).
Bobby Freeland Memorial "Hard Hat" Award - Cole Bloemer
Nominees: Cole Bloemer, Jack Thornton
Just as his fashion sense catches the eye off the ice, so too does Bloemer's hard-nosed play on the ice. The Bobby Freeland "Hard Hat" Award, named in honor of the franchise's late head coach that led the team during its inaugural season (2005-06), is perhaps the most hallowed yearly award given by the team, and Head Coach Justin Kern admitted that Bloemer was the clear and obvious choice to receive this year's honor. "I was a member of that very first Generals team under Bobby," said Kern, "So this award holds a special significance to be because of what and who it represents, and Bloemer perfectly embodies what this award is all about."
Gritty play only amounts to just a part of Bloemer's game, though, as the Alaskan has the skill to match, as evidenced by his 25 goals, 31 assists and 56 overall points this season, all of which are within the top 30 in the USP3. His nine game-winning goals broke the Generals single-season franchise record previously held by Michael Schlagel (8: 2008-09) and the Generals posted a perfect 17-0-0 record in games which he scored.
Offensive Player of the Year - Cody Arbelovsky
Nominees: Cody Arbelovsky, Cole Bloemer, Brett Sparks
What a season it was for the second year forward. After tallying 18 goals and 23 assists for 41 overall points during his rookie campaign with the Generals, Arbelovsky exploded in his second season as he set the USP3 ablaze right out of the gate by breaking the Generals single-game goal scoring record with six against the West Sound Warriors in just the team's third game of the season. Arbelovsky went on to light the lamp 47 times during the regular season, breaking Michael Frei's single-season franchise record for most goals scored in a single-season (46: 2008-09) while also leading the USP3 in the same category. His 87 overall points finished second in the USP3 behind only Decatur's Joey Starcevich (93 points).
"Cody happens to be my billet son, so I may be a little bit biased in my description here," joked Head Coach Justin Kern. "He has been truly tremendous this season. On the ice, just look at the stats. They clearly show how vital he's been to our team's success and how big of an impact he can have on any given game. Off of the ice, he's become a part of my family, so I'm incredibly proud to see him claim this honor and for all of the accolades that he collected this season."
Defensive Player of the Year - Logan Sanders
Nominees: Nash Berkowitz, Logan Sanders, Brett Sparks
Sanders has been the backbone on the blue line for the Generals this season as his steady leadership on the ice and in the locker room has made him look incredibly at ease wearing the "C" on his chest. Like fellow defenseman Brett Sparks, the offensive numbers put up by Sanders this season have turned heads across the country as his 22 goals, 26 assists, 48 overall points and 9 power play goals all finished within the top five among USP3 defenseman.
However, the award is indeed for defensive player of the year, not offensive, and Logan earned this year's honor due to his unwavering ability to serve as a calming influence on the ice as well as a rarely-beaten barrier between the Generals netminder and opposing players. Head Coach Justin Kern praised the veteran defenseman, stating, "He was a natural leader even before the season, but I think this year that's he's grown even more into the role of captain, and I can't think of a better person to lead our boys on the ice."
Rookie of the Year - Frazier "Butch" Mohler
Nominees: Tristan Bulot, Bradley Maddox, Frazier "Butch" Mohler
As many Generals fans will remember, the big-bodied forward started the season with a flurry (four goals in the season's first three games), however Mohler struggled over the next three months as he hit the "rookie wall" as Head Coach Justin Kern described it. "At one point or another, it's going to happen during your rookie season," said Kern, alluding to players hitting a rough patch during their first year of junior hockey. "Every rookie has that period where they have to bear down, grit their teeth and keep working even when nothing seems to be breaking their way."
That's exactly what Mohler did, and the hard work began to finally pay dividends midway through the season. Upon travelling with the team to the Midwest Showcase in December while still sitting on just four goals, Mohler promptly scored the opening goal in each of Eugene's three wins in the heartland which helped kick off a stretch that has seen the Arizonan score eight times since the new year, including in Game One of the PDCS. His 14 goals and 25 overall points this season led all Generals rookies.
Most Improved Player - Bradley Maddox
Nominees: Jack Geisler, Bradley Maddox, Frazier "Butch" Mohler
Bradley is constantly praised by Generals coaches and staff for his unwavering upbeat attitude and his dedication to further develop his game each and every day. Playing in his first season of junior hockey, Maddox has made steady progress throughout the year and emerged as the clear favorite for this year's honor thanks to the tremendous strides that he's taken this season. "Bradley is someone that is always so, so excited to hit the ice each and every day," said Head Coach Kern. "That attitude is infectious and I truly think that it has made us a much better hockey team. Bradley has earned each and every shift that he's taken this season, and I'm so proud of the progress that he has made this year."
As Head Coach Justin Kern alluded to in a speech following Maddox's win, the Most Improved Player Award been claimed by some of the franchise's most historic players, including Connor Bambico (2009-14), Justin Huelsman (2008-13), Ian Evans (2006-10), and most recently currently Generals assistant captain Josh Hawn.
Player's Choice Award - Cody Arbelovsky
Nominees: Christopher Alexakis, Cody Arbelovsky, Logan Sanders, Brett Sparks and Jordan Szymanski
As the award title indicated, the Player's Choice Award is the only yearly team award that is voted on and ultimately decided solely by Generals players. It was a tight battle between Arbelovsky and the team's most recent addition, Jordan Szymanski, but the record-breaking forward claimed just enough votes to earn his second award of the evening. This particular award has taken on different interpretations each year as Generals teams of the past have voted on this award not just due to on-ice accomplishments but also off-ice leadership and engagement with the team.
Arbelovsky's win snapped a two-year streak of netminders winning the award as current Generals goaltending coach and former Generals player Christopher Pritchard won the award last season while Daniel Spencer, currently playing at Finlandia University, won the award the season prior.
Norma J. Evans Volunteer of the Year Award - The Vinti Family
Nominees: Mario Perez Jr., The Vinti Family and Roy Wright
The Vinti Family have been longtime members of our #GensFam as they've assisted and supported the team and The Rink Exchange in multiple capacities. Derek Vinti (middle) volunteers as the team's ticket scanner for all Generals home games while his wife Lori (left) and their daughter Samantha (right) are often busy greeting Generals fans while raising money for the Eugene Jr. Generals by volunteering their time to organize "Chuck-A-Puck" during Generals games.
When they're not busy helping the big boys, the Vinti's are can almost always be found helping the Jr. Gens as Derek and Lori have become two of the most recognizable (and welcoming) faces at The Rink Exchange. Derek also volunteers his time by serving on the board for the Eugene Jr. Generals while he and Lori's son, Casey, is a goaltender for the Eugene Jr. Generals.
Host Family of the Year - The Davis Family
Nominees: The Davis Family, The Miles Family, and the Nyberg Family
This was the first season for the Davis Family serving as a Eugene Generals Host Family, and they dove right in to becoming a part of our #GensFam. The Davis Family was the only Generals Host Family to house three Generals players this season - Christopher Alexakis, Bradley Maddox and Kory Palmer - which is no small feat as many hockey parents can attest to. In addition to providing a loving and supporting home to three Generals players, Tab (pictured above) works with Bicoastal Media and serves as a vital partner in promoting the team as well as Generals games and events.
The Eugene Generals organization offers its sincere thanks to all of the dedicated volunteers and host families that devote so much of their time and their love towards supporting Generals players and growing the game of hockey in Lane County.