ANCHORAGE – Alaska Anchorage head coach Matt Thomas announced Thursday that the annual hockey team awards have been renamed to honor past Seawolves. The renaming was voted on by current alumni members of Seawolf Hockey.
“It is important that our current and future Seawolves recognize the legacy left behind by the players that came before them,” said Thomas. “From Craig Homan, our first MVP, to Justin Johnson, a four-year Cornerman Award honoree, these athletes have aided our program with great distinction and serve as examples to strive for. It is only fitting that we make these honors permanent.”
Of the 10 team awards, six have been renamed. Come April 28 at the annual All-Sport Awards Banquet, current members of the team will receive the following honors; the Craig Homan Most Valuable Player Award, the Dean Larson Rookie of the Year Award, the Jeff Batters Defensive Player of Year Award, the McEnaney/Kraft Most Inspirational Player Award, the Justin Johnson Corner Man Award, and the Mike Peluso Most Improved Player Award.
The MVP award is named after Anchorage local, defenseman Craig Homan (1980-83), who finished his Green & Gold career with 63 points in just 50 games played. He was the first recipient of the honor in 1980. The award is given to a player that best represents the team and is counted on in key situations to lead the team at important moments throughout the season.
The Rookie of the Year award honors Dean Larson (1989-92), who garnered the honor in the 1988-89 season. During his rookie campaign, Larson furnished 41 points and led the team with 30 assists. Larson went on to furnish a program-best 200 career points with the Seawolves, including a program-best 137 helpers. The award recognizes a first-year player that made the most significant impact and established themselves as a difference maker in their first season.
Garnering the name recognition for Defensive Player of the Year is Batters, who played for UAA from 1988-92. A St. Louis draftee in 1989, Batters finished his Green & Gold career as the No. 2 all-time leading defenseman goal scorer with 36 and is ranked No. 3 with 90 points. This award – which was established in 2013-14 – identifies the abilities of a defensive player at both ends of the rink. The player is committed to the defensive effort of his team and can contribute in ways that reach far beyond the score sheet.
The Inspirational award is split between two-time honorees Peter McEnaney (1985-88) and Brian Kraft (1990-92). McEnaney was honored in 1986-87 and 1987-88, while Kraft when back-to-back in 1989-90 and 1990-91. Since 1979, the most inspirational award has been given annually to the player that inspires his teammates through his dedication, work ethic and enthusiasm for team success.
Anchorage local and NHLer Justin ‘JJ’ Johnson (2002-06), has his named attached to the Corner Man Award. Since its inception at the end of the 1988-89 season, the Corner Man Award has been presented to the player that earns the respect of his teammates for his willingness to get his nose dirty. JJ is one of two players to receive the honor all four years of his career.
Lastly, the Most Improved Award honors former NHLer and Stanley Cup winner, Mike Peluso, who dressed with the Seawolves from 1985-89. Peluso received the award during his rookie season, before going on to be ranked No. 6 all-time with 92 career assists and No. 16 with 113 career points. This award goes to the player that improved his overall game throughout the year to make an impact during the season.
Additionally, the Seawolves’ hand out four more team awards each season – the Jack Petersen Student Athlete Award, the Leon Thompson Fan Favorite Award, Humanitarian Award and the Coaches Award.