OHL Academic Players of the Year

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the recipients of the league’s three Academic Player of the Year awards for the 2012-13 season.


Darnell Nurse of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the recipient of the Bobby Smith Trophy as Scholastic Player of the Year, with Connor Burgess of the Sudbury Wolves named the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award recipient as Top High School Student, and Daniel Altshuller of the Oshawa Generals is named the Roger Neilson Memorial Award recipient as Top Post-Secondary School Student Athlete. 


All three players will be formally presented with their awards at the annual OHL Awards Ceremony on Tuesday June 4.  Nurse will be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Scholastic Player of the Year which will be announced on Saturday May 25 as part of the events at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Saskatoon, SK.


Bobby Smith Trophy (OHL Scholastic Player of the Year) – Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds


Darnell Nurse, an 18-year-old from Hamilton, ON, attends St. Mary’s College in Sault Ste. Marie and is the second member of the Greyhounds organization to win the award since it was first presented in 1980 following Jake McCracken in 1997.  Nurse carried an 85% average while taking six Grade 12 University Prep courses including International Business, Canadian Geographic World Issues,  Mathematics – Data Management, Mathematics – Advanced Functions, Religion – Catholic Social Justice, and Economics – Analyzing Current Economic Issues. 


“Being a part of the Soo Greyhounds organization has allowed me to maintain, as well as further my academic studies at a high level,” Nurse said.  “Winning this award is a great honour. I take pride both on and off the ice to develop not only as a player but also as a person.  This would not have been possible without the staff at the Soo Greyhounds organization, St. Mary’s College and St. Thomas More High School.”


On the ice, Nurse recorded 41 points in 68 games in his second season with the Greyhounds.  Eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, Nurse is the highest ranked OHL skater in NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings listed at fourth overall.  He also competed in the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Halifax, NS, where he was an alternate captain with Team Cherry.


“As a major junior hockey program, there is nothing that can make us more proud than having a young man awarded the Bobby Smith Trophy which recognizes excellence in the areas of combined academics and hockey,” said Greyhounds General Manager Kyle Dubas.  “Darnell has embodied everything that the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and the Ontario Hockey League strive to be about.  His work ethic and lifestyle allow him to have elite results academically and athletically.  He comes from a tremendous family and his parents Richard and Cathy, have instilled great character in him.  Darnell is a very deserving winner of the Bobby Smith Award and our organization is extremely proud of his accomplishment today.  Darnell’s ability to have tremendous success in the classroom, and on the ice simultaneously shows what that the OHL academic system can not only maintain a young man’s academic needs, but maximize the academic potential of each young man who enters each respective program in our league.  Further credit needs to go to our Program’s academic advisor Jerry Bumbacco who has been with our Program for 27 seasons and his commitment to academics has allowed all of the young men who enter our program to maximize their potential academically.”


Each year the Bobby Smith Trophy is presented to the OHL Scholastic Player of the year who best combines high standards of play and academic excellence.  The trophy is in honour of Bobby Smith, former Ottawa 67’s star who exhibited a standard of excellence in both of these areas.  Former winners of the Bobby Smith Trophy include NHL stars Dustin Brown who was a three-time award winner with Guelph from 2001-03, Steven Stamkos (Sarnia 2006-07), Matt Duchene (Brampton 2008-09), Erik Gudbranson (Kingston 2009-10), and Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2010-11).  Adam Pelech of the Erie Otters was last year’s recipient. 


Finalists for the award include Daniel Altshuller of the Oshawa Generals, Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts, and Damian Bourne of the Mississauga Steelheads.


Ivan Tennant Memorial Award (Top Academic High School Student) – Connor Burgess, Sudbury Wolves


Connor Burgess, a 17-year-old rookie from Sudbury, ON, is the first member of the Wolves organization to win one of the OHL’s academic awards with a 94.8% academic average this year.


A third round pick in the 2012 OHL Priority Selection, Burgess maintained a full four-course schedule excelling in all of his studies including Advanced Functions and University Prep Chemistry at LaSalle Secondary School in Sudbury. 


“Connor is a hard-working and dedicated student athlete both on and off the ice,” said Wolves General Manager Blaine Smith.  “He has become a quiet leader in the classroom and has always given his education a high

priority and it is nice to see he has been able to maintain this standard while playing hockey at the OHL level.  Our ownership has always stressed the importance of academic hard work.  For the past 26 years, it has always been the Burgess family philosophy to ensure that the players attend and do well in school.  I know Mark and Karen Burgess are very proud of their son Connor.”


The Ivan Tennant Memorial Award is given to the Top Academic High School Player and is named in honour of Ivan Tennant, who spent a lifetime combining hockey and education.  He was the Kitchener Rangers’ Education Consultant for 20 years and a key figure on the OHL’s Education Consultant’s Committee.  Past winners of the award include brothers Freddie and Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs in 2009 and 2010 respectively.  Adam Pelech of the Erie Otters was last year’s recipient.


Finalists for the award include Chadd Bauman of the Guelph Storm, Brent Moran of the Niagara IceDogs, and Andrew Abou-Assaly of the Ottawa 67’s.


Roger Neilson Memorial Award (Top Post-Secondary Student) – Daniel Altshuller, Oshawa Generals


Daniel Altshuller, an 18-year-old from Nepean, ON, and student at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, is the first member of the Generals to win an OHL academic award since Steve Konroyd was presented the Bobby Smith Trophy in 1980.


Altshuller is Studying Business and Information Technology and took five courses this season carrying an 85% average.  Playing in his second season with the Generals, the Carolina Hurricanes prospect posted a 36-18-1-1 record this season with three shutouts along with a 2.62 goals-against-average and a .909 save percentage. 


“The Oshawa Generals are very proud of Daniel’s accomplishment and he is a testament to players being able to combine high level athletics while maintaining high level academics as well,” said Gens’ General Manager Jeff Twohey.  “Daniel is a solid pro prospect but has never lost his academic focus and he has balanced academics and athletics very well through hard work.  Special thanks to our academic adviser (Tom Buchannan) and all that he has done to support Daniel and to UOIT for providing an exceptional post secondary environment for Daniel to thrive in.”


The Roger Neilson Memorial Award is named in honour of the Hall of Fame Coach who served behind the Peterborough Petes bench in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Neilson, a former high school teacher, was a pioneer in stressing the importance of education to all of his players.  Former winners of the award include Derek Lanoue of the Windsor Spitfires who won back-to-back in 2010-11, and Kyle Pereira of the Guelph Storm who won the award last season.


Finalists for the award include Matt Murray of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Ryan Horvat of the Guelph Storm, and Ben Fanelli of the Kitchener Rangers.


All 20 of the OHL’s member clubs provide nominees for each award with the Bobby Smith Trophy nominees representing the 2012-13 OHL Scholastic Team:


2012-13 OHL Scholastic Team:

Barrie Colts – Aaron Ekblad

Belleville Bulls – Jordan Subban

Brampton Battalion – Mark Raycroft

Erie Otters – Kyle Pettit

Guelph Storm – Jason Dickinson

Kingston Frontenacs – Darcy Greenaway

Kitchener Rangers – Ben Fanelli

London Knights – Bo Horvat

Mississauga Steelheads – Damian Bourne

Niagara IceDogs – Brent Moran

Oshawa Generals – Daniel Altshuller

Ottawa 67’s – Jacob Blair

Owen Sound Attack – Chris Bigras

Peterborough Petes – Andrew D’Agostini

Plymouth Whalers – Alex Nedeljkovic

Saginaw Spirit – Nick Moutrey

Sarnia Sting – Brett Hargrave

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – Darnell Nurse

Sudbury Wolves – Mathew Campagna

Windsor Spitfires – Sam Studnicka

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