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OHL Announces Academic Player of the Year Award Winners for 2018-19

May 7, 2019 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) News Release

Toronto, ON - The Ontario Hockey League today announced the recipients of the league's three Academic Player of the Year awards for the 2018-19 season.

Thomas Harley of the Mississauga Steelheads is the winner of the Bobby Smith Trophy as Scholastic Player of the Year, with Sasha Chmelevski of the Ottawa 67's earning the Roger Neilson Memorial Award as the Top Post-Secondary School Student, with co-winners Mack Guzda of the Owen Sound Attack and Zack Terry of the Guelph Storm sharing the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award for Top High School Student.

All three players will be formally presented with their awards at the annual OHL Awards Ceremony on Wednesday June 5, with Harley representing the OHL's nomination for CHL Scholastic Player of the Year which will be announced on Saturday May 25 in Halifax at the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia.

Bobby Smith Trophy (OHL Scholastic Player of the Year) - Thomas Harley (Mississauga Steelheads):

Thomas Harley has earned OHL Scholastic Player of the Year honours for his academic achievements in the classroom combined with his on-ice excellence for the Mississauga Steelheads. Harley has been enrolled in six University level courses at Philip Pocock Public High School and Blyth Academy where he carries an overall average of over 88% studying Advanced Functions, Interdisciplinary Studies, Biology, English, Geography, and Chemistry. On the ice, the top NHL Draft prospect scored 58 points in 68 games including 11 goals and 47 assists.

"It's a huge honour to win this award," said Harley. "A lot of great players have won it and I consider myself lucky to be among them. A huge thank you goes out to my parents, teachers, billets, and coaches who have gotten me to this point."

The 17-year-old from Syracuse, New York, finished eighth among OHL defencemen in scoring and is the 11th ranked skater by NHL Central Scouting among North American prospects for the 2019 NHL Draft. The first round pick by the Steelheads in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection increased his point production by 43 from his rookie campaign and was voted Most Improved Player in the Eastern Conference Coaches Poll to go along with Best Offensive Defenceman and second Best Skater recognition. At season's end, Harley represented Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

"The Mississauga Steelheads organization would like to congratulate Thomas Harley for being named this year's Bobby Smith Trophy recipient," said Steelheads General Manager and Head Coach James Richmond. "We couldn't be more proud of Thomas for what he has accomplished not only on the ice but in the classroom as well. His dedication and commitment to his studies is a ringing endorsement that people can be great student athletes! Well done Thomas and we wish you continued success!"

Each year the Bobby Smith Trophy is presented to the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year who best combines high standards of play and academic excellence. The trophy is in honour of Bobby Smith, a former Ottawa 67's star who exhibited a standard of excellence in both of these areas. Harley is the second member of the Steelheads to win the award following Nicolas Hague in 2016. Additional recipients since the award was first presented in 1980 include three-time winner Dustin Brown (Guelph 2001-03), Steven Stamkos (Sarnia 2007), Ryan Ellis (Windsor 2008), Matt Duchene (Brampton 2009), Erik Gudbranson (Kingston 2010), Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2011), Adam Pelech (Erie 2012), Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie 2013), back-to-back winner Connor McDavid (Erie 2014-15), Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 2017), and Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie 2018).

Next in line for the award were a pair of dynamic rookies including Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit and Jean-Luc Foudy of the Windsor Spitfires.

Roger Neilson Memorial Award (Top Post-Secondary Student) - Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 67's):

Sasha Chmelevski of the Ottawa 67's is currently pursuing courses at Oakland University in Michigan where he achieved over a 96% average. While his goals are Health Science directed with studies in Biology and Human Nutrition, he also demonstrated his diverse academic interests by opting to take an International Economics course during the winter term.

"I think it's an honour for me," Chmelevski said of the award. "All my life I've always wanted to be a hockey player but my parents always pushed me to be better in school. Education is something I take very seriously and I take a lot of pride in representing the 67's with this award."

A 19-year-old from Northville, Michigan, Chmelevski is no stranger to academic awards having been named both the OHL and CHL Scholastic Player of the Year back in 2017. On the ice, the 67's leader produced 35 goals and 40 assists for 75 points in 56 games helping Ottawa to a record finish atop the OHL standings. Chmelevski has spent almost his entire OHL tenure with the 67's joining the club during his rookie season after being chosen by the Sarnia Sting in the first round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection. Over his 216 career games he's scored 102 goals and 111 assists for 213 points and was a 2017 pick of the San Jose Sharks and a 2019 member of Team USA winning silver at World Juniors.

"Sasha is a driven leader, whose on-ice achievements speak for themselves," said Jan Egert, 67's Assistant General Manager and Director of Scouting. "Throughout his OHL career, Sasha has placed a continued importance on maintaining personal academic development, and has excelled in successfully reaching those ambitions. We are thrilled to see that Sasha is recognized for his efforts and achievements again this season."

The Roger Neilson Memorial Award is named in honour of the Hall of Fame Coach who served behind the Peterborough Petes bench in the late 1960's and early 1970's. Neilson, a former high school teacher, was a pioneer in stressing the importance of education to all of his players. 67's goaltender Dan Battochio was the first award recipient back in 2005 and is also one of three two-time winners after receiving the honour again in 2006. Derek Lanoue (Windsor 2010-11) and Stephen Gibson (Mississauga 2017-18) also share the distinction.

Runner-up for the award was Jonathan Yantsis, now a two-time finalist from the Kitchener Rangers, who also attended Wilfrid Laurier University.

Ivan Tennant Memorial Award (Top Academic High School Student) - Mack Guzda (Owen Sound Attack) & Zack Terry (Guelph Storm):

Owen Sound Attack goaltender Mack Guzda and Guelph Storm rookie defenceman Zack Terry share top academic high school student honours achieving impeccable results in the classroom with averages over 96%.

Guzda studied online through the K12 International Academy with courses that included British & World Literature 1 & 2, Psychology, U.S. & Global Economics, Environmental Science, and Careers in Criminal Justice. Terry studied an impressive seven Grade 11 courses at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic High School in Guelph including English, Functions, Chemistry, Dynamics of Human Relations, World Religions, Law, and Biology.

"It's a huge honour to receive this award," Terry said. "I'm very thankful to have been given the opportunity by Guelph to compete in the OHL and pursue my academics. I'm very fortunate for all the support from everyone in the Guelph Storm organization, and especially my family and academic advisor, Coleen Driscoll, for the endless energy and effort put into allowing me to achieve such a high degree in my academics. I can't thank these people enough."

This marks the first time since the award was introduced in 2005 where it has been co-presented and had a repeat winner with Guzda recognized for the second straight season.

"I am honoured to receive the Ivan Tennant Award from the OHL for the second year," Guzda said. "I am grateful to the Owen Sound Attack organization, ownership and coaching staff as well as educational advisor Sarah Rowe, and to my family and billets. I am particularly appreciative of the OHL for allowing me to pursue my academic goals along with my athletic goals."

An 18-year-old from Knoxville, Tennessee, Guzda made 49 appearances between-the-pipes for the Attack carrying an overall record of 20-19-4-1 with two shutouts, a goals-against-average of 3.63, and save percentage of .878. The club's second round pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection and member of the OHL's First All-Rookie Team in 2018 is now eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft and is listed 25th among North American goaltenders in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings.

"Mack is an incredibly bright young man who is an outstanding goaltender as well," said Attack General Manager Dale DeGray. "The organization is committed to success on the ice and in the classroom, and Mack exemplifies what we are looking for in a student-athlete."

A 17-year-old from Oakville, Ont., Terry played 51 games for the Storm scoring twice with three assists. The second round pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection was one of just 11 OHL rearguards to represent Canada in the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge where he suited up for Team Black in November. Last season he enjoyed an offensive minded season leading the OMHA's SCTA division in scoring from the back end with 43 points in 35 games for the Oakville Rangers.

"Through the years there have been many highly dedicated and committed student athletes in the Ontario Hockey League. In my experience, there has been no one more diligent and determined to succeed in the classroom than Zack," said Storm General Manager and Head Coach George Burnett. "He is most deserving of this very prestigious recognition. The Guelph Storm are very proud of Zack's outstanding work throughout his first season, both on and off the ice. Congratulations, Zack!"

The Ivan Tennant Memorial Award is given to the Top Academic High School Player and is named in honour of Ivan Tennant, who spent a lifetime combining hockey and education. He was the Kitchener Rangers' Education Consultant for 20 years and a key figure on the OHL's Education Consultant's Committee. Andrew Shorkey (2007) is the only other member of the Attack to win the award while the Storm have been represented previously by Adam Craievich (2014) and Quinn Hanna (2017). Past recipients also include brothers Matt and Adam Pelech (Sarnia 2005 and Erie 2012), Freddie and Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2009 and 2010), and recent winners Stephen Dhillon (Niagara 2015) and Kyle Keyser (Flint 2016).

Finalists for the award included Jake Murray of the Kingston Frontenacs, Mitchell Russell of the North Bay Battalion, Tye Austin of the Peterborough Petes, and Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit.

All 20 of the OHL's member clubs provide nominees for each award with the Bobby Smith Trophy nominees representing the 2018-19 OHL Scholastic Team:

2018-19 OHL Scholastic Team:

Barrie Colts - Peter Fleming

Erie Otters - Jamie Drysdale

Flint Firebirds - Ethan Keppen

Guelph Storm - Owen Lalonde**

Hamilton Bulldogs - Logan Morrison

Kingston Frontenacs - Matt Hotchkiss*

Kitchener Rangers - Michael Vukojevic

London Knights - Sahil Panwar

Mississauga Steelheads - Thomas Harley

Niagara IceDogs - Ben Jones**

North Bay Battalion - Mitchell Russell

Oshawa Generals - Mitchell Brewer

Ottawa 67's - Graeme Clarke

Owen Sound Attack - Nolan Seed

Peterborough Petes - Tye Austin

Saginaw Spirit - Cole Perfetti

Sarnia Sting - Brayden Guy

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds - Cole MacKay

Sudbury Wolves - Peter Stratis*

Windsor Spitfires - Jean-Luc Foudy

*two-time member of OHL Scholastic Team

**three-time member of OHL Scholastic Team


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