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Amerks to Honor Thomas M. Nichols Scholarship Winner, Finalists April 1st

March 29, 2011 - American Hockey League (AHL) Rochester Americans

(Rochester, NY)... The Rochester Americans announced today that the team will honor five local high school hockey players during the second-period intermission of the Rochester-Manitoba American Hockey League game on Friday, April 1st at The Blue Cross Arena. The five athletes will be recognized as this year's top candidates to receive the 2010-11 Thomas M. Nichols scholarship. Brockport senior Troy Allen was named the 2011 winner among the group of finalists that include Grady Melville (McQuaid), Jimmy Boyatzies (Pittsford), Max Hartnett (Geneseo/Livonia) and Mikhial Jerzak (Webster Thomas).

Nichols was a local attorney at Harris Beach who was instrumental in keeping the Amerks in Rochester during the 1970-71 season. He was also part of the ownership group in the early 1970's. Nichols, who was originally from Boston, was an ardent supporter of youth and high school hockey. The award honors the Section V high school hockey player whose work ethic, character and determination exceeds excellence and who plays to his full potential. The award is in the form of a $1,500 scholarship which will be applied to tuition costs at the recipient's chosen college. Nominations for the scholarship are made by coaches, who select one player from their team and up to three players on other teams around the league.

Allen has spent the last four years as a member of Brockport's hockey team, serving as the captain the past two seasons. Despite being injured in two of his last three seasons with an ailing wrist that kept him sidelined until Christmas, Allen has been able to bounce back quickly and successfully. Also a natural golfer, Allen has received scholarship offers from colleges interested in his on-the-green abilities. Even with the chances of facing injury again and losing scholarship opportunities completely, Allen, a hockey player at heart, decided to stick with his hockeymates because, as a captain, he couldn't let his team down. Allen's fortunes were in his favor though, leading the Blue Devils to the Section V championship game by dishing out four goals since December. With his tremendous leadership abilities, in which he always puts the team first and his ability to overcome physical obstacles, Allen naturally stood out as a dedicated student-athlete for Brockport.

Melville shows that he is as dedicated as they come by taking a full-time leadership role in not only his McQuaid Jesuits' Knights hockey program, but as a member of a travel league too. While his coach says he is a great supporter of each and every one of the players on his team, Melville stands ahead of the pack by his ability to outskate players on the ice regardless if they are bigger than him or not.

Melville, who never seems to take a day off from his team duties, owns key attributes include reading his opponents and drawing them into penalties, while also showing great play in pressure situations. In addition, Melville recognizes that with leadership comes followership, always backing his coaches first. These noteworthy abilities and dedication as a member of the Knights has also rubbed-off at McQuaid as a student.

Boyatzies has worked hard to skate for the Pittsford hockey team since his sophomore year in high school, in which he continually strived to improve his skills. Now a senior captain, Boyatzies can be the first to say that dreams can be achieved by hard work. After seeing very limited playing time as a tenth grader on a varsity squad, Boyatzies used the off-season to become a better player and has gradually seen more playing time in his past two seasons to prove it. The defenseman is now recognized as one of the top defenders in Monroe County and is well respected by his coach for the dedication to become the best he has shown. In addition, the Panthers believe his attitude is what got him to where he is today. His ability to work hard in school and still show a 100 percent effort at practice, combined with heading to the rink in the summer to further touch-up on his skills, easily distinguished Boyatzies from the group.

Hartnett joins the group of five finalists after an on-and-off the ice, six-year career with the Geneseo/Livonia Lakers. Serving as the team captain for his senior year, Hartnett started as a manager for the team for the 2005-06 season before he finally headed to the ice with the Lakers in 2007-08 in his freshman year. Described as hardworking and dedicated, Hartnett's coaches have nominated him for a number of awards over his seasons with the club including league All-Star, the Individual Sportsmanship award and the Scholar Athlete award. Besides the crucial role he currently plays with the Lakers, Hartnett also maintains a 95-average in school and is a member of the National Honor Society. After notching 25 goals and 25 assists throughout his high school career, Hartnett was also awarded the team MVP award twice during his time with the team.

Jerzak has led the Webster Thomas Titans to a State championship and four sectional titles throughout his tenure with the blue and gold. A passionate hockey player, his coaches have seen Jerzak grow not only as a player, but also as a person in the four years of talent he contributed to the team. Maintaining a 96-average in the classroom has also led him to earning the Scholar Athlete award twice. Other league recognitions include the Pugliese Sportsmanship award and the Top Scholar Athlete award. After suffering a blow to his junior year with a season-ending knee injury, Jerzak showed his determination by attending every practice and never missing a game. Jerzak's strong work ethic, even in times where he knew he wouldn't be on the ice, shows how important putting the team first can be.

The Amerks kickoff a two-game road set with the Manitoba Moose tonight at the MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg. The North Division rivals will meet again the following night on Wednesday, March 30th in the second of back-to-back tilts. Both contests are slated for an 8:30 p.m. EST start and will be carried live on Sports Radio 1280 WHTK and FM 107.3, Rochester's Sports Talk.

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