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Spirit’s Misa claims Emms Family Award as OHL’s Top First-Year Player

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Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Saginaw Spirit forward Michael Misa is the 2022-23 recipient of the Emms Family Award, presented annually to the OHL’s Top First-Year Player as voted by the league’s General Managers.

Misa led the league’s newcomers with 56 points, including 22 goals and 34 assists in 45 games. He did so after becoming the sixth player to be granted exceptional player status to play in the OHL by Hockey Canada, competing as the league’s lone 2007-born player during the 2022-23 season. Misa’s 1.24 points-per-game are the highest rate of any of the OHL’s six exceptional status talents during their first season, surpassing the benchmark of 1.18 previously held by John Tavares of the 2005-06 Oshawa Generals.

“Receiving this award is a tremendous honour and I couldn’t have done it without all the help from my teammates and coaching staff supporting me throughout my first year,” said Misa. “I’m super excited for what’s ahead with this group and I can’t wait to get started next year.”

A 5-foot-11, 160Ib. left-winger from Oakville, Ont., Misa was chosen first overall by the Spirit in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection and wasted little time finding the scoresheet in the OHL, picking-up where he left off to end the 2021-22 season with a record-setting performance as his Mississauga Senators won an OHL Cup title. Misa scored twice in his first career OHL contest on Oct. 1st against the Guelph Storm and registered points in each of his first three games. He went on to be named the league’s Rookie of the Month for October.

Misa’s first OHL campaign was headlined by 19 different multi-point outings including a four-point performance (1-3–4) on Oct. 14th in Guelph along with a trio of three-point efforts.

“As an organization we are extremely proud of Michael for winning this award,” said Spirit General Manager Dave Drinkill. “Since the day we drafted Michael he has done everything we have asked of him and more, both on and off the ice. It is not easy to succeed in this league as a first-year player, especially one that was granted entry to the OHL a year early, but Michael’s skill and drive to be the best allowed him to adapt quickly. He is an outstanding, humble young man that is very deserving of this recognition and we could not be happier for him.”

Misa, who turned 16 on February 16th, becomes the first player in Spirit franchise history to win the Emms Family Award and follows present-day NHL players in Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie 2018), Alex DeBrincat (Erie 2015), Travis Konecny (Ottawa 2014), Connor McDavid (2013) and Aaron Ekblad (Barrie 2012) in receiving the honour. Guelph Storm defenceman Cam Allen was the 2021-22 award-winner.

The Emms Family Award was donated by Leighton “Hap” Emms, former owner of the Barrie, Niagara Falls, and St. Catharines OHL franchises.  The award is selected by all 20 member club General Managers.  Teams were asked to submit only one nominee from their own club for consideration on the ballot and were not permitted to vote for the player from their own hockey club.

Finalists in this year’s voting included forwards Liam Greentree of the Windsor Spitfires and Porter Martone of the Mississauga Steelheads, who each tied for second-place.

Misa is the OHL’s nominee for the Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year Award, presented at the CHL Awards Ceremony on Saturday, June 3 during the 2023 Memorial Cup presented by Kia which takes place in Kamloops, British Columbia. He will be formally presented with the Emms Family Award at the OHL’s Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, June 14 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

For a complete list of OHL award winners, click here.

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