Article By: Mike Peck
03/28/2011 1:05 PM - Rockford, Ill.-The Rockford IceHogs are proud to announce that Kyle Hagel has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Rockford community during the 2010-11 season.
The highlight of Kyle’s commitment to the Rockford community was the “Stick To Reading Program” that he established at Kishwaukee Elementary School in Rockford.
Kyle made ties with Mrs. Nicole Adams, a fifth-grade teacher at Kishwaukee Elementary School, and set up the program that encouraged the students at the fourth and fifth grade levels to improve their reading habits.
"Kyle is probably the most determined man that I have ever met in my life,” said Mrs. Adams. “I think what’s really impressive to me through the whole thing is that he volunteered this. You know I wasn’t pushing for someone to come into my classroom. I was kind of teasing him and he said ‘no I’m really serious’.
“He explained about Hockey Players for Kids (HP4K) and how that’s a completely voluntary organization and how important it is for him to feel like he is giving back to his community, even though this is not his home.
“While he’s here playing for the IceHogs, this is his community. So he is determined to do as much as he can to impact Rockford and that’s remarkable. He was always very gracious with the kids"
Not only did Kyle organize the “Stick To Reading Program” on his own through HP4K, but he included several of his IceHogs teammates in the program and the players made several appearances at Kishwaukee Elementary School.
The program began with a kickoff assembly with the fourth and fifth grades and included Kyle and five other IceHogs players at the school to help motivate the kids.
Throughout the process, Kyle and his teammates made appearances at the school and capped the program with a floor hockey game featuring the winners of the “Stick To Reading Program” and nine other IceHogs players in front of both the fourth and fifth grade classes.
“We had a number of students who normally wouldn’t read get involved in the program and it definitely exceeded our expectations,” said Kishwaukee Elementary School Principle Al Gagliano.
Outside the schools, Kyle was always one of the first to volunteer for hospital visits or to help out at Jr. IceHogs Youth Hockey practices.
Hagel is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL’s 2010-11 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/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.
Next Home Game: Friday, April 8 vs. Lake Erie Monsters: The puck drops at 7:05 p.m. Rockford returns home after a five-game, 12-day road swing to take on the Lake Erie Monsters for the sixth and final time this season. The IceHogs will be celebrating Hammy’s birthday with several area mascots as the team opens the final weekend of the 2010-11 season.