BEN SMITH NAMED ROCKFORD’S 2011-12 IOA/AMERICAN SPECIALTY AHL MAN OF THE YEAR

By: Mike Peck
04/02/2012 1:05 PM - Rockford, Ill.- The Rockford IceHogs are proud to announce that Ben Smith 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 2011-12 season.

In his second full season of professional hockey, Smith has been a staple in the Rockford community, despite battling injuries and recalls between Rockford and the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Avon, Conn. native participated in several community team functions, including family reading nights at local elementary schools and libraries, hospital visits, the IceHogs adopt-a-school program at Lincoln Middle School and a reading program at Hillman Elementary School in Rockford.

Smith’s efforts in the community made the most impact when he befriended 19-year-old Jimmy Newcomer. Newcomer was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer (cancer in his bile ducts) in early December, and by the turn of the calendar year, he was given just a few weeks to live.

After Rockford’s game on Monday, Jan. 16, Smith paid a visit to Newcomer at Swedish American Hospital in Rockford and delivered one of his game-worn jerseys. During his visit with the 19-year-old, Smith found out that Newcomer was suppose to attend his first Blackhawks game on Jan. 18 but couldn’t go because of his deteriorating condition. Smith volunteered his time and said he’d spend that Wednesday night watching the game with him by his bedside.

As life would have it for an AHL player, Smith was recalled to Chicago the next day and couldn’t make the visit. Smith, however, helped organize a team outing that included six of his IceHogs teammates at the hospital, and surprised Newcomer with a Blackhawks watch party with the players, family and friends.

The winger later participated in a fundraiser with several IceHogs teammates at Texas Roadhouse (Newcomer’s former employer) in Rockford where he spent nearly six hours at the event which raised over $10,000 for Newcomer’s medical expenses. Newcomer eventually found enough strength to attend an IceHogs game courtesy of Smith.

The second-year winger was a hopeful to make the Chicago Blackhawks roster out of training camp last fall, but a concussion in the Blackhawks final preseason game sidelined him to start the season and eventually landed him in Rockford.  After a productive campaign in Rockford and nine games in Chicago with the Blackhawks, Smith was eventually shut down for the season because of a torn hip labrum and hernia.

Despite his own personal and professional adversity, including injury and the back-and-forth shuffle between Rockford and Chicago, Smith is always one of the first to volunteer for hospital visits, school appearances or meet and greets with fans.

Smith is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL’s 2011-12 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: Tuesday, April 10 vs. Charlotte Checkers. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. It's the last Taco Bell Dollar Day at the BMO Harris Bank Center as the IceHogs welcome the Checkers. Fans can get hot dogs, beers, sodas and companion tickets for just one dollar a piece.



Search Archive »




Browse by Year »

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
200
0

Browse by Month »

August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
December 0200