Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Brandon Saad of the Saginaw Spirit is the 2011-12 recipient of the William Hanley Trophy awarded to the OHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.
Saad, a 19-year-old from Gibsonia, PA, scored 34 goals and 42 assists for 76 points in just 44 games while recording just 38 penalty minutes in his second OHL season with the Spirit. He becomes the second member of the Spirit to win the award following current Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tom Pyatt who received the honour in 2006-07. He also becomes the first American-born player to win the award since Rochester, MI, native Pat Peake in 1993 with the Detroit Jr. Red Wings.
“It’s an honor to win any award and be recognized by the league,” commented Saad. “I’m excited about the news and happy to win the award and accept this award on behalf of the Saginaw Spirit and my teammates.”
The Spirit captain led all OHL players with 1.73 points-per-game after beginning the season with the Chicago Blackhawks who selected him in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Upon his return to Saginaw he immediately produced an eight-game point-streak and received OHL Player of the Week honours following his second week in action ending October 23. That week included his first career five-point game where he scored a career-high four goals October 20 as first star of a 5-2 win over the Brampton Battalion. A member of the U.S National Junior Team at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship, Saad recorded 21 multi-point games this season and had the fourth longest point-streak in the league at 16 games between January 15 and February 24. He also finished with the sixth-best plus-minus rating in the OHL with a mark of plus-35.
“Brandon has been an outstanding player for the Spirit organization,” said Head Coach Greg Gilbert. “His commitment both on and off the ice exemplifies the type of player and person he is. His passion for the game and his leadership for our club have been second to none. He plays each game with determination and respect, not only for the game itself, but for his team and opponents. He is a true leader.”
The William Hanley Trophy is awarded each year based on a selection by the 20 General Managers of the Ontario Hockey League. Teams are not permitted to vote for their own candidate with players receiving five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote. The trophy is presented by the OHL to commemorate William Hanley, former Secretary-Manager of the Ontario Hockey Association for over 25 years.
“Since his first day in Saginaw, Brandon Saad has displayed an extraordinary commitment to doing things right, both on and off the ice,” said Craig Goslin, Spirit Managing Partner, President and Governor. “Whether communicating with his teammates or visiting sick kids in a local hospital or doing a community appearance, his approach is consistently conducted with class and respect for others. Our franchise has certainly been the recipient of an outstanding future NHL hockey player and an outstanding person as well.”
Saad received 45 points in the voting process ahead of Tobias Rieder of the Kitchener Rangers who received 38 voting points, and Freddie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs who finished in third place with 31 voting points.
Former winners of the William Hanley Trophy include Wayne Gretzky (Sault Ste. Marie 1977-78), Brian Campbell (Ottawa 1998-99), Brad Boyes (Erie 2000-01 and 2001-02), Jeff Carter (Sault Ste. Marie 2004-05), Wojtek Wolski (Brampton 2005-06), and Cody Hodgson (Brampton 2008-09). Last season OHL top scorer Jason Akeson of the Kitchener Rangers claimed the award, while Ryan Spooner won the award in 2009-10 as a member of the Peterborough Petes.
Saad will be presented with the William Hanley Trophy at the 2011-12 OHL Awards Ceremony set for Tuesday June 5 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He will also be the OHL’s nominee for Sportsman of the Year at the Annual CHL Awards.