IceHogs Season Award Winners Named
Rockford, Ill. - Shortly before the Rockford IceHogs final regular season game against the Milwaukee Admirals on Saturday, the team announced the club's award winners for the 2015-16 campaign.
The awards were presented to the winners by the Chicago Blackhawks General Manager of Minor League Affiliates, Mark Bernard, and several season ticket holders in a special pre-game ceremony.
Goaltender Michael Leighton earned the IceHogs Most Valuable Player award for the second-straight year after putting together a record-breaking regular-season performance. The veteran netminder followed up a five shutout season in 2014-15 with five more perfect performances to set the AHL's all-time shutout record (46). Leighton's inspired play helped the team to its second consecutive playoff berth, and earned a call up to the Chicago Blackhawks, where he played in his first NHL game in three seasons. The Petrolia, Ontario native finished with a 28-8-3 record, and compiled a 2.44 goal against average in addition to a .918 save percentage. Despite missing the final month of the season due to his call up, Leighton still ranks in the top-15 among goaltenders in wins, goals against average, and save percentage.
The Rookie of the Year award went to Vince Hinostroza, who led the team with 48 points (16g-32a) entering the final contest. In his first season out of Notre Dame, Hinostroza played 66 games with the IceHogs in addition to seven tilts with the Blackhawks. The Bartlett, Illinois native scored the game-winning goal three times for Rockford and led the team in multi-point games (12).
Blueliner Ville Pokka was named the Defenseman of the Year following his Rookie of the Year award last season after putting up 10 goals and a team-leading 33 assists entering tonight's season finale. The second-year Finn was the only IceHogs player to dress for each game of the 2015-16 season. Pokka ranked first among Rockford defensemen in both goals and assists, and matched his previous season total of five power-play goals.
The Heavy Hitter award was awarded to forward Mike Liambas. Liambas made a seamless transition to the IceHogs roster, and proved to be a force to be reckoned with for opposing teams. The 27-year-old led the team in penalty minutes (179) and ranked first in the American Hockey League with 19 major penalties.
Team captain Jake Dowell received the Unsung Hero award. In his 9th professional season, Dowell joined the team on a PTO before earning a guaranteed contract and proved to be a veteran presence and source of leadership. The University of Wisconsin product also had the most productive season of his professional career, as he put up personal bests in goals (11), assists (24), and points (35).
Kirill Gotovets took home the team's Most Improved Player award. In his second professional season, Gotovets proved to be an essential cog in the IceHogs defense. He played in 61 games entering the season finale, and put up 15 points (2g-13a) after playing in 12 games for Rockford last season.
Michael Leighton also earned the IceHogs Man of the Year award for his dedication and commitment to bettering the lives of those in the Rockford community. Leighton contributed to and created countless initiatives to help the team give back to fans and the underprivileged. With the help of his wife, Jennifer, the goaltender reserved suites to host families going through hard times as a part of his "Leighton's Minions" program, and convinced Blackhawks and IceHogs teammates to sign "mystery pucks" on multiple occasions to help raise money for the team's charitable causes. Leighton also drove his teammates to put together personalized baskets for a silent auction on Autism Awareness Night, which contributed to a final total of over $20,000 raised.
The following is a summary of the 2015-16 Rockford IceHogs Awards:
Most Valuable Player: Michael Leighton
Rookie of the Year: Vince Hinostroza
Defenseman of the Year: Ville Pokka
Unsung Hero: Jake Dowell
Heavy Hitter: Mike Liambas
Most Improved: Kirill Gotovets
Man of the Year: Michael Leighton
• Discuss this story on the American Hockey League message board...
American Hockey League Stories from April 16, 2016
- Ontario's Peter Budaj Wins AHL's Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award - Ontario Reign
- Schmalz Shines as Reign Fall to Gulls in Final Regular-Season - Ontario Reign
- Ontario's Peter Budaj Wins AHL's Harry "Hap" Holmes Memorial Award - AHL
- Crunch Comeback Falls Short in Overtime, 4-3 - Syracuse Crunch
- IceHogs to Meet Lake Erie in First Round of Calder Cup Playoffs - Rockford IceHogs
- Griffins Look to Playoffs Following 3-2 Loss in Finale - Grand Rapids Griffins
- Manitoba Moose Post-Game Report - Manitoba at Texas - April 16 - Manitoba Moose
- Rowney Receives Team MVP, Scores Only Goal in 3-1 Loss - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
- Admirals Face Grand Rapids in First Round of Calder Cup Playoffs - Milwaukee Admirals
- Rattie, Wolves Wrap Season with Win - Chicago Wolves
- Rattie, Wolves Wrap Season with Win - Chicago Wolves
- Stars Finish off Regular Season with 4-1 Win in Front of Sellout Crowd - Texas Stars
- Wild Closes out Season with 4-2 Defeat in Chicago - Iowa Wild
- Falcons Rally to Defeat Pirates - Springfield Falcons
- Bears Rally from Behind against Phantoms - Lehigh Valley Phantoms
- Bears Defeat Phantoms, Lock up Division Title - Hershey Bears
- Providence Beats Penguins, Will Meet Again for Playoffs - Providence Bruins
- Comets Claim Third Consecutive Galaxy Cup - Utica Comets
- Condors Cap Season on Three-Game Win Streak, 3-2, in Grand Rapids - Bakersfield Condors
- Cleveland's Lake Erie Monsters' Playoff Schedule Announced - Cleveland Monsters
- IceHogs Season Award Winners Named - Rockford IceHogs
- Griffins to Open Playoffs against Admirals - Grand Rapids Griffins
- Albany Devils Dominance Gets Lost in Mayhem - Albany Devils
- Wolf Pack Conclude Season with 2-1 Setback at St. John's - Hartford Wolf Pack
- Toronto Marlies Post Game Notes - Toronto Marlies
- Bridgeport ends road schedule with loss - Bridgeport Sound Tigers
- Mason Geertsen Reassigned to Komets - San Antonio Rampage
- IceCaps Top Wolf Pack to End Season in Victory - St. John's IceCaps
- Guhle Scores as Amerks Drop First of Two with Marlies - Rochester Americans
- Syracuse Crunch Present 2015-16 Team Awards - Syracuse Crunch
- American Hockey League Announces Suspension - AHL
- Ryan Macinnis and Kyle Wood Report to Springfield - Springfield Falcons
- Regular Season Finale Tonight against Milwaukee - Rockford IceHogs
- Final Home Game of the Season Tonight at 7:30 Sees Heat Wear Military Themed Sweaters - Stockton Heat
- Ritchie Recalled by Anaheim - San Diego Gulls
- Panthers Recall Shaw from Portland - Portland Pirates
- Ontario Reign Game Preview: Reign and Gulls Wrap up 2015-16 Regular Season Tonight - Ontario Reign
- Game Day: Albany Devils vs. Bridgeport Sound Tigers - Albany Devils
- Manitoba Moose Post-Game Report - Manitoba at San Antonio - April 15 - Manitoba Moose
- Carruth, IceHogs Shut out Griffins 4-0 - Rockford IceHogs
- Gulls' Early Lead Erased in 4-2 Loss to Ontario - San Diego Gulls
- Reign Capture Western Conference Regular-Season Title with 4-2 Win - Ontario Reign
- Griffins Fall 4-0 in Rockford, Will Learn First-Round Opponent - Grand Rapids Griffins
- Rampage Close out 2015-16 Campaign with 5-2 Loss to Moose - San Antonio Rampage
- Admirals Fall in Regular Season Finale - Milwaukee Admirals
The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.
Other Recent Rockford IceHogs Stories
- IceHogs Visit Wolves in Preseason Action at 2 PM in Hoffman Estates
- IceHogs Announce 2020-21 Training Camp Roster
- IceHogs to Open 2021 Training Camp Monday, January 25 at BMO Harris Bank Center
- IceHogs Reveal 2020-21 Preseason and Regular Season Schedule
- Entwistle and Johnson Join Blackhawks Taxi Squad