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Marks, Sich and Velemirovich Honored

March 28, 2007 - Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) - Fayetteville Marksmen News Release

[FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.] - The Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) announced their regular season awards today. The Fayetteville FireAntz were the proud recipients of three major awards. Head Coach John Marks won the Coach of the Year, forward Rob Sich was named Most Valuable Player and Tim Velemirovich was awarded Rookie of the Year honors.

John Marks- Coach of the Year

Head Coach John Marks received the Coach of the Year Award, the first of his storied coaching career. He won his 800th professional game on March 8, 2007 and finished the season with 805 career professional victories. Marks led the FireAntz to a 32-18-6 overall record for the 2006-07 season. After a relatively slow start, the team began the year 13-14-5, Marks turned the club around and ended the year 19-4-1 over their last 24 games, including an SPHL record-tying 11-game win streak.

"I said very early in this hockey season that you can't win the Kentucky Derby with Clydesdales, you need thoroughbreds." Marks continued, "Over the course of the season we got the thoroughbreds that we needed and I'm very proud of these guys for what they've accomplished thus far."

Marks added, "It is very gratifying to be recognized by your peers and receive this honor. Any coach would be proud."

Rob Sich- Most Valuable Player

Forward Rob Sich was named the SPHL's Most Valuable Player. For the season Sich tallied 46 goals, 46 assists and 92 points. He fell one point shy of the scoring title but did set the SPHL record for most goals in a season. He also tied teammate Tim Velemirovich atop the +/- list at +37. Sich was also the SPHL Player of the Week on one occasion as well as the SPHL Player of the Month for February.

When Sich joined the FireAntz, (he was obtained in the dispersal draft from the now-defunct Florida Seals), the club was 13-13-5. Since that time the FireAntz went 19-5-1 and Sich tallied an astounding 29 goals, 28 assists for 57 points in just 25 games played.

"When Rob was still available at the 3rd pick of the dispersal draft, I couldn't blurt out

the name 'Rob Sich' fast enough." Marks continued, "I knew he would be a perfect on a line with Josh Welter and Tim Velemirovich."

"The greatest compliment that I can give Rob is that he competes. He's like a shark on a feeding frenzy when he gets a chance around the net. And he'll pay the price in the trenches to get the job done." Marks added, "He's a great player and I'm really happy for him to receive this recognition."

Tim Velemirovich- Rookie of the Year

Forward Tim Velemirovich has just completed the best season ever by a rookie in the brief history of the SPHL. He set a league record for points by a rookie with 89, netting 30 goals and 59 assists. His 59 assists were most in the league this season. Velemirovich also tied Rob Sich for the league lead with a +37 rating. He also was named the SPHL Player of the Week on two occasions.

"I'm absolutely thrilled for Timmy to win this award." Marks said, "He's such a skilled hockey player and has a tremendous work ethic. In fact, his best skill is his work ethic. Other rookies had good seasons but I feel that he was definitely deserving of this award."

FireAntz Named to All-SPHL Teams

All-SPHL 1st Team- Forward Rob Sich

All-SPHL 2nd Team- Forward Tim Velemirovich

All-SPHL Rookie Team- Forward Tim Velemirovich

All-SPHL Rookie Team- Defenseman Dylan Row

The FireAntz will be hosting Game 1 of the series versus the Huntsville Havoc on Friday, March 30th at 7:30 pm at the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville. Great seats still remain. Fans may purchase tickets from the Crown box office or by calling Ticketmaster at (910) 223-2900.

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