With the Worcester Sharks final season in Worcester now at its end it’s time to start with the end of season paperwork. Up first are the “210 Awards”. For those new to the “210 Awards”, they are a mix of serious and (hopefully) slightly humorous awards named for the moniker this writer uses on many message boards. This season’s winners are…
Best Forward: Captain Bryan Lerg gets the nod here, not just because he was the leading point getter for all forwards but because after an ice cold start to the season in the second half of the year he was one of the keys to the WorSharks getting into the playoff race. When he was recalled for a well deserved “cup of coffee” in the NHL Worcester was not the same team. Had Chris Tierney played more than 29 games his point per game pace would have made him a lock, but since we consider only everyday players it’s Lerg this season.
Best Defenseman: The WorSharks had a few good ones this season, but the best of the crop was easily rookie Gus Young. His +14 lead the WorSharks and was the highest plus/minus rating since Andrew Desjardins’ +14 in 2010-11. A solid two way performer Young was scratched a lot in the early going but his solid play forced head coach Roy Sommer to put him in the lineup, and Young answered with a very solid season. Young was on an AHL contract and should have no issues landing an NHL deal for next season if San Jose does not sign him.
Tough Guy Award: While he didn’t play in many games, 30 to be exact, Jimmy Bonneau is the winner here. It’s not for the fights he was in, but oddly enough for the ones he wasn’t. When Bonneau’s name was called to be in the lineup it was almost always because the opponent had a player that the WorSharks wanted kept in check, and with Bonneau on the bench that just about always happened. Unlike previous WorSharks teams this season Worcester didn’t have a ton of fighters, but they didn’t need them. They had the best, and that was all they needed.
Best Single Game Performance: Jeremy Langlois for his third period natural hat trick, which included the game winner, on January 21, 2015 at Portland in the WorSharks 3-2 win over the Pirates gets the nod here. Langlois could have had a fourth goal in that game too were it not for an incredible save by Portland goalie Louis Domingue.
Most Improved: While Eriah Hayes had pretty much the same year statistically as in 2013-14 you could see that he was significantly better in his play when compared to last season. He played “smarter” hockey for the whole season and showed more confidence than in his rookie year. If San Jose really is looking toward moving to younger players you can pencil Hayes into the NHL 4th line next season. He’s certainly better than what San Jose used this year.
Seventh Player Award: With two great candidates for the season, this year’s seventh player is sentimental favorite John McCarthy. He didn’t start the season with Worcester, but when he came back to the WorSharks in a trade it was both “addition by subtraction” in getting rid of Adam Burish and multiplication by getting a player that could play in every facet of the game. Truly one of the greats in Worcester hockey history, were it not for a late season injury McCarthy would be the lone franchise leader for almost everything WorSharks.
Rookie of the Year: On a team full of rookies one really stands out in goaltender Aaron Dell. With his arrival the WorSharks found that anchor goalie a team needs to have a legitimate shot at a long playoff run, and his play earned him an NHL contract for the remainder of the season. No other rookie in Worcester hockey history ever wrote himself into the record books as often as Dell did, with his 2.06 goals against average setting the city record for both season and career in that stat. He was also within a handful of saves of owning the Worcester city save percentage record for both season and career too.
Most Valuable Player: After much consideration, and two changes, this one finally goes to Dell. The WorSharks wouldn’t have gotten to the playoffs without him, and that’s the definition of an MVP. No more explanation needed.
The Sharkspage Player of the Year: Lerg, for being named Sharkspage Player of the Game nine times, the most of any other Worcester player.
So now that we’ve gotten the serious awards out of the way, here’s a few that this writer thinks should be handed out…
The “Two-By-Two Award”: Ryan Carpenter and Hayes, for each having the most penalty minutes (40) without a major.
The “Iron Man Award”: Matt Taormina for playing in all 76 regular season games and four playoff games.
The “Man In The Box Award”: Dylan DeMelo and Taylor Doherty, for being the reason Worcester was shorthanded when a power play goal was scored against them most often in the regular season.
The “Dead-Eye Award”: Doherty, for having the lowest shooting percentage of any player with 50 or more shots on goal.
The “Buzzer Beater Award”: Travis Oleksuk for his goal with 1.9 seconds remaining in the 2nd period vs Bridgeport on 12/30/14.
The “Brain Cramp Award”: Matt Tennyson, for somehow forgetting to drop his broken stick as he attempted to kick the puck deeper into the opponent’s zone.
The “Roster Award”: Head Coach Roy Sommer, for going all season without making a lineup error. This makes one season in a row for him doing that.
The “Keep Your Hat On Award”: Willie Coetzee, who was the first Worcester Sharks player to be penalized for playing without his helmet on.
The “Hey, You Aren’t A Goaltender Award”: Jimmy Bonneau, for being the first skater in Worcester hockey history to dress as a goaltender in game.
The “Hey, You Aren’t A Play-By-Play Guy Either Award”: Bonneau, for calling most of the game in Wilkes-Barre when broadcaster Eric Lindquist was suffering from bronchitis.
The “Kevin Henderson Award”: Barclay Goodrow, for continually giving himself in the best scoring opportunity possible and somehow not being able to put the puck in the net, just like Kevin Henderson used to.
The “Last Man Award”: Julius Bergman, who became the last WorSharks player ever for his one game on April 18th.
The “Check The Jersey Next Time Award”: Tennyson, for accidentally checking McCarthy and ending McCarthy’s season, which may have played a role in the WorSharks early playoff exit.
The “Oscar Mayer Award”: Andrew Blazek, for his interesting Christmas story at the WorSharks Booster Club Holiday party where he mentioned as a child he was thankful for his, well, you figure it out.
The “Mike Moore Award”: For the player that gives 100% every single shift no matter the score or the situation, Carpenter gets the nod here. He’s another of those young players we should be seeing on San Jose’s fourth line next season.
The “David Haas Award”: The award that goes to the player with the most talent that uses the least of it. While we were dusting this award off to give to Burish San Jose “traded” him for McCarthy. So we’ll put it back on the shelf yet again.