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By: Chris Etheridge
Rockford, Ill. - The Rockford IceHogs are proud to announce that center Bracken Kearns has been named the team’s winner of the American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Rockford community during the 2009-10 season.

In his first full season with the IceHogs and fifth in professional hockey, Kearns volunteered a portion of his salary to Ivestrong, a local organization which supports the efforts of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, for every goal he scores in 2009-10. Ivestrong was established to remember Rockford 10-year-old Sydney Ives, who died in November after a battle with brain cancer.  Sydney was named an honorary member of the IceHogs over the summer and has become an inspiration of strength to this year’s team.

Along with the rest of the IceHogs team, he assisted with Maria’s Restaurant’s Special Olympics Lunch in December and the Bowl-A-Thon in March to raise money for Huntington’s Disease. He attended Rockford’s Head Start Jamboree in October as well as at Stepping Stone preschool in November.  Kearns also attended a Jr. IceHogs practice in February to assist with skills and drills.

As Rockford’s leading scorer, Kearns has been one of Rockford’s leading contributors to the team’s on-ice success in 2009-10.  He is having a career year by every measure, recording 15 goals and 33 assists.  He is one of only two players on the IceHogs roster who has not missed a single game so far this season.  As one of Rockford’s three alternate captains, his friendliness towards fans and strong character have made him a great ambassador for the IceHogs.
In recognition of his efforts, Kearns will be presented with an etched crystal trophy during an on-ice presentation prior to an upcoming IceHogs home game.

Kearns is now one of 29 finalists for the AHL’s 2008-09 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League in the coming weeks.

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