Rockford IceHogs | Rookie D.J. Busdeker Earns Accolades with Unsung…
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Rookie D.J. Busdeker Earns Accolades with Unsung Hero Award-Winning Season

2021 IceHogs Team Awards: Unsung Hero Award Winner

ROCKFORD, Ill. – The Rockford IceHogs, proud American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL), announced today that forward D.J. Busdeker is the winner of the team’s Unsung Hero award for the 2021 season.

Busdeker, 21, finished third among IceHogs rookies and fifth in team scoring this season with five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 24 games. After starting the season with the Indy Fuel of the ECHL, the Dexter, Michigan, native joined the IceHogs for training camp and quickly picked up his first AHL point (assist) in his AHL debut (Feb. 6) and first AHL goal (Feb. 9 at Chicago) in his second contest. He registered goals in back-to-back games on Mar. 7 vs. Iowa and Mar. 3 at Grand Rapids and had a two-goal showing on Apr. 24 at Iowa. One of his best overall performances was on Apr. 17 vs. Chicago with two assists, a team-high and personal season-high seven shots on goal, and a +2 rating.

“It’s a cool award,” said Busdeker. “Coming into this year, I just wanted to work hard and make as big of an impact as I could. It’s pretty cool and special to be recognized as an unsung hero for this team. There are so many guys on this team that could have won it. Pretty cool to be recognized.”

2021 IceHogs Team Awards: D.J. Busdeker - Unsung Hero Award Winner

Signing a two-year AHL contract last summer, Busdeker entered his rookie season after wrapping up a four-year junior career in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Saginaw Spirit, totaling 146 points (54 goals, 92 assists) in 235 games and serving as an alternate captain his last two seasons. In 2019-20, he buried a career-high 57 points (22 goals, 35 assists) in 62 games and finished fourth in team points and goals and third in assists.

“The good part about this year is there is competition within the guys,” added Busdeker. “It’s healthy completion and guys are battling for spots and that makes practices and games that much more important. It elevates everything and that’s been big for me this year. Taking advantage of the practices and games whenever I can and use those opportunities to get better.”

IceHogs Unsung Hero Award Winners

99-00 Norm Paquet

00-01 Steve Dumonski

01-02 Oak Hewer

02-03 Kenzie Homer

03-04 B.J. Adams

04-05 Olivier Proulx

05-06 Matt Gens

06-07 Luke Fritshaw

07-08 Colin Fraser

08-09 Rob Klinkhammer

09-10 Bracken Kearns

10-11 Kyle Hagel

11-12 Peter LeBlanc

12-13 Ben Smith

13-14 Wade Brookbank

14-15 Peter Regin

15-16 Jake Dowell

16-17 Martin Lundberg

17-18 William Pelletier

18-19 William Pelletier & Tyler Sikura

19-20 Matt Tomkins

20-21 D.J. Busdeker