April 1, 2009 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Rochester Americans
(Rochester, NY)... The Rochester Americans honored two of their defensemen at the annual Player of the Month luncheon today at Monroe Golf Club. The Amerks named Keaton Ellerby the winner of the award for the month of March and also officially acknowledged Rory Fitzpatrick as the team\'s winner of the American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Rochester community during the 2008-09 season.
Ellerby notched three goals and assisted on three others for six points in 13 games for the Amerks in the month of March. The former first-round pick of the Florida Panthers has three goals and 17 assists in 69 games. The rookie defenseman was surprised by the award.
"It\'s awesome. I just found out right before lunch," said Ellerby. "It\'s an honor to win it."
Ellerby was joined at the lunch by teammates Michael Duco, Drew Larman, Jordan Henry and Fitzpatrick. Amerks President Lewis Staats, General Manager Jody Gage, Head Coach Benoit Groulx, Assistant Coach Jason Cipolla also attended the event in Pittsford.
The luncheon ended with the recognition of hometown boy Rory Fitzpatrick by the Amerks, VP of Morgan Stanley Richard Spencer and Sheriff Patrick O\'Flynn.
"The Man of the Year criteria for the American Hockey League combines a number of things, but the key things are leadership and community involvement," said Staats. "I think he epitomized that in what he brought to the organization."
The 14-year pro returned to his native Rochester and is currently in his third season with his hometown Amerks. When he is not leading his team on the ice, the Amerks captain can be found actively involved in the Greater Rochester community. Fitzpatrick has affiliated himself with countless charitable fundraisers throughout the season, but perhaps the most significant of them all was when he and the rest of his teammates helped raise nearly $45,000 at the 19th annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Rochester.
"It\'s a big honor. To me it\'s important because it shows what type of person you are and obviously with Rochester being my hometown, I have a strong bond with the community," said Fitzpatrick about the award. "I am very proud to be from Rochester and do whatever I can for the community."
Fitzpatrick also helped kickoff the third season of the Amerks\' Reading Power Play program, an educational program that places a heavy emphasis on literacy, the importance of reading and education. He was extensively involved in his own time with Rochester\'s local D.A.R.E. program where he served as an ambassador and spoke at schools in his hometown of Irondequoit about the dangers of drug abuse.
During the summer months, in addition to several weeks in-season, Fitzpatrick serves as a special guest instructor at the Amerks\' youth hockey camps. The camp, hosted by Amerks assistant coach Jason Cipolla, gives kids the opportunity to be taught the fundamentals of hockey by some of their favorite Amerks players.
This season, Fitzpatrick launched the "Friends of Fitzy" campaign, a program designed to offer donated tickets to charities and nonprofit organizations for any game throughout the season. The father of four also spends countless hours at Lakeshore Hockey Arena, where he assists his kids\' teams with on-ice instruction.
In recognition of his efforts, Fitzpatrick will be presented with an etched crystal trophy during an on-ice presentation prior to an upcoming Amerks home game.
Fitzpatrick 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.