Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - Submitted by Andrew McMurtry & Ellanor Pavlovich
As the MOAT: Melbourne Mustangs continue to celebrate being crowned the 2014 AIHL Champions, the AIHL also handed out several individual awards.
With players put forward and voted by teams, the AIHL Awards for 2014 were also announced in front of the capacity crowd as the Medibank Icehouse following the AIHL Grand Final, including best defenceman, rookie of the year, goalie of the year, Skater’s Network local player of the year and most valuable player.
Following an outstanding season where he topped the league’s scoring chart and broke his own Sydney Ice Dogs scoring record, Simon Barg was announced as the league’s 2014 MVP.
Scoring 23 goals and 47 assists for 70 points from 27 games (2.6 points per game) Simon Barg was a revelation for the Sydney Ice Dogs, carrying the 2013 premiers back into the semi-finals, where they were defeated by the new premiers, the Melbourne Mustangs.
Barg claimed the leading point scorers title from the CBR Brave’s Stephen Blunden by a solitary point. Blunden claimed the top goal scorers title with 36, 13 ahead of Barg in second place.
Barg also beat his own Ice Dogs record of 55 points in a season as well as the Ice Dogs’ assist record, which he previously held at 29.
After being announced the winner, Barg was humble.
“It's been an honour to play with a great group of guys and line mates and Australian Ice Hockey has been great to me and my family and it's been a blast,” Barg told theAIHL.com.
Following the birth of his first child earlier in the season, Barg and his family are planning to return to Canada and won’t return for next season but said he has enjoyed his two seasons in the AIHL with the Sydney Ice Dogs immensely.
The winners of the other awards were:
Best Defenceman: Jack Wolgemuth (Melbourne Mustangs)
The Mustang’s US import defenceman may not have set the scoreboard on fire as he did last season, but Wolgemuth was a constant presence for the Melbournians as the club claimed its first Goodall Cup trophy. Scoring six goals and 18 assists for 24 points in the same amount of games (he scored 43 points through 14 goals and 29 assists in 2013 for the Mustangs), Wolgemuth impressed every time he was on the ice, even being named as an MVP finalist.
Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Brown (Melbourne Ice)
In his first full rookie season (Brown previously played two games for no points for the Ice in 2012), the 19-year old well and truly announced his arrival in 2014. Scoring 22 points from 22 games (five goals, 17 assists) including playoff games, Brown finished equal fifth on the Melbourne Ice scorers list and was touted as a potential leader of the team by Ice coach Brent Laver through the season.
Goalie of the Year: Petri Pitkänen (CBR Brave)
In the first season of the CBR Brave, the team knew they would need a classy shot stopper to compete in the AIHL. Pitkänen may have finished third on save percentage and second on goals against average but it was the way that he held himself, often pulling off almost impossible saves and impressing teammates and opponents alike. The 22-year old Fin was instrumental in helping the CBR Brave to the finals, a feat which had not been achieved by a team from Canberra in the history of the AIHL (the Canberra Knights were a foundation club and entered the competition in 2000, yet never made the finals).
Skater’s Network Local Player of the Year: David Dunwoodie (Sydney Ice Dogs)
When it comes to local player of the year, there was only one name that stood out above all others. Despite the resurgent Joey Hughes finding a successful new combination at the Mustangs and the Ice’s Tommy Powell turning back the clock in one of his most dominant seasons, it was David Dunwoodie who stood up and showed his offensive prowess. The former goalie-turned-defenceman-turned-forward claimed 55 points (22 goals, 33 assists) from 29 games, almost double his 2013 stats which was his previous most successful year. The 266-game veteran is now fourth on the all-time list of points by a local behind Vladan Stransky (2008 – 65 & 2006 - 57) and Joey Hughes (2011 - 62).