April 19, 2012
OXFORD, Ohio - Miami Hockey has come a long way since it first became a varsity sport in 1978 and several people have played a critical role in getting the program to varsity status and developing it into The Brotherhood it is today. To honor those that have made profound contributions to Miami Hockey, eight of the team's individual awards have been named after someone who impacted the program.
Although all but one of the eight awards has been handed out previously, only three were named after people: The Berry Family Outstanding Senior Award, the Steve Cady Most Improved Player Award and the Gary DeLonge Most Valuable Player Award. Starting at this year's Night of Celebration (Miami's annual year-end hockey banquet), the Blue Line Club Award will now be called the George Gwozdecky Blue Line Club Award, the Rookie of the Year Award will be renamed the Dr. Phillip Shriver Rookie of the Year Award, the Outstanding Defensive Player Award is now the Mitch Korn Outstanding Defensive Player Award and the Outstanding Offensive Player Award is being named after Bill Davidge as the Bill Davidge Outstanding Offensive Player Award. Miami is also presenting the inaugural Tom Brown Unsung Hero Award at Saturday's banquet.
The George Gwozdecky Blue Line Club Award is given to a player who has gone above and beyond what is expected of Miami Hockey players and has given back to the program with more than just his contributions on the ice. The award is named after former Miami head coach George Gwozdecky, who was at the helm of Miami for five seasons from 1989-1994. He took an up-and-coming team and built a championship program, leading Miami to its first CCHA title in 1992-93, winning the regular season, while also leading the Redskins to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. In doing so, he won the Spencer Penrose Award for National Coach of the Year and established Miami as a national contender, setting the program up for long-term success. One of the best and classiest coaches in college hockey, Gwozdecky took over the head coaching job at the University of Denver after leaving Miami and still remains there today, having led the Pioneers to two national titles in 2004 and 2005.
The Dr. Phillip Shriver Rookie of the Year Award is named in honor of Dr. Phillip Shriver, who served as president of Miami University from 1965-1981 and was instrumental in leading the hockey program to earning varsity status. Shriver believed in his vision that hockey could be an important part of Miami University and the Oxford community and in 1978, helped move the program from club status to varsity status. He also led the effort to get Miami into its first and only conference in program history, the CCHA, beginning in 1981. Although his term as president ended in 1981, he continually supported the hockey program after his tenure, standing by his statement that it was the "right decision" to become a varsity sport in 1978 and it's still the right decision. His dedication and commitment helped keep the program going strong, allowing Miami Hockey to become The Brotherhood it is today.
The Mitch Korn Outstanding Defensive Player Award is named after Mitch Korn, who served the Miami Hockey program in many capacities while the program was still in its infancy in the 1980s. He began his time at Miami as the night manager at the old Goggin Ice Arena in 1980 and worked his way up to director of the arena. He also became an assistant coach on the team in 1981, serving as the program's goaltending coach for several years while wearing multiple hats. Korn helped market the program and served as the play-by-play commentator on radio, as well. While in charge of Goggin, he developed Miami's Hockey School, which has been sold out every year since the 1980s and helps support the program. Korn played a key role in ensuring the future of the program, allowing it to become The Brotherhood it is today.
The Bill Davidge Outstanding Offensive Player Award recognizes Bill Davidge, who was Miami's second varsity head coach and served the program for several years. Davidge started out as a graduate assistant with the team in 1977 and worked his way up to head coach from 1985-1989. He was instrumental in the development of the program, helping it transition from club sport to varsity sport while continuing to make strides in the CCHA during his tenure. Davidge was also crucial in recruiting top hockey players to Miami and continued to reside in Oxford and support the program even following his coaching tenure.
Miami's newest award, the Tom Brown Unsung Hero Award, which will be presented for the first time Saturday, is given to a player who does all the little things without much recognition and is appropriately named after former Miami goaltender Tom Brown, who was one of Miami's first goaltenders and played two years of varsity hockey from 1978-1980. Brown's extremely generous support has allowed the hockey program to thrive and develop into the nationally recognized program it is today. Without his backing, Miami Hockey would not be where it is today as he has always been willing to help the program whenever possible. In addition to helping ensure the future of the program, Brown was also the main contributor to the new Goggin Ice Center that opened in 2006 and earned naming rights to the new arena, which he named after his head coach at Miami - Steve "Coach" Cady Arena.
The Steve Cady Most Improved Player Award had already been named in honor of Steve Cady, who was the first head coach of Miami Hockey once it became a varsity sport, serving from 1978-1985. While also serving as Miami's men's soccer coach, Cady helped elevate hockey to varsity status in 1978 as he began coaching the club team in 1976. He was also instrumental in getting Miami into its first conference, the CCHA, and oversaw the transition into the league in 1981. Even after he finished coaching, Cady continued to work for Miami as an administrator, serving in that role since 1985, while always backing the hockey team. He has continuously helped raise money to keep the program going strong. He also aided in the fundraising and building of a new ice arena for the hockey program, which opened in 2006 and was named after him - Steve "Coach" Cady Arena. Cady has also been instrumental in the implementation of several other new athletic facilities at Miami and has served on numerous NCAA hockey committees. He is a member of the Miami University Athletic Hall of Fame, as well.
The Berry Family Outstanding Senior Award has honored Jim and Mary Linda Berry for the past several years. The Berry Family has provided significant support for the hockey program over the last 20 years that has helped keep the program going strong. In addition to backing the program financially, the Berrys looked after the players, helped them find summer jobs and served as a home away from home. Without their contributions, Miami Hockey would not be where it is today.
Miami's top individual honor, the Gary DeLonge Most Valuable Player Award, was already named in memory of Gary DeLonge, who was Miami's first varsity team captain in 1978-79, his only season of varsity hockey, during which he established Miami's single-season records for goals with 39 and points with 74, both of which still stand today. DeLonge was key in developing the hockey program from club to varsity status as he gave up a football scholarship to join the hockey team. Behind his leadership and strong offense, he helped Miami go 22-14-1 in its first season as a varsity team while earning the team's first MVP award. DeLonge was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in 1999 but his contributions to the program live on through this award.
The eight individuals will be recognized this Saturday, April 21 at Miami Hockey's Night of Celebration while the eight awards, along with the Scholar-Athlete Award, will be presented to individual players for their efforts during the 2011-12 season. The honorees will either present the award themselves or a family member will be on hand to present it Saturday. Miami's Night of Celebration begins at 6 p.m. at the Shriver Center.