ERIE, Pa. – The Mercyhurst University men’s hockey team recently held its annual postseason team banquet and head coach Rick Gotkin presented eight postseason team awards to members of the 2011-12 roster.
The Lakers finished the 2011-12 season with a 20-16-4 overall record and advanced to the Atlantic Hockey Association semifinals for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The team’s 20 victories was also the most by a Mercyhurst team since winning 22 games during the 2008-09 campaign.
Redshirt junior goaltender Max Strang was named the team’s Most Valuable Player, while freshman Daniel Bahntge was the only player to winning multiple awards, finishing as the team’s Top Forward and as the Freshman of the Year.
The Top Defenseman award was given to sophomore Nick Jones, while the Top Defensive Forward went to sophomore Daniel O’Donoghue. Sophomore Randy Cure was named the team’s Most Improved Player and freshman Edward DeWald was given the team’s Hustle Award. Freshman Grant Gettinger earned the final honor of the evening, picking up the team’s Scholar Athlete Award.
Most Valuable Player – Max Strang
Strang, who will be returning for a fifth season in 2012-13, posted remarkable numbers in his first year as the starting goaltender. The native of Gilbertsville, Pa. had started just seven games in three years entering the season, but finished the campaign with a 16-14-3 overall record with a 2.68 goals against average and a .927 save percentage. His numbers were even better in the conference, as he helped lead Mercyhurst to a tie for third place in the standings and a first round bye in the postseason. He went 12-6-3 against conference opponents and sported a 2.25 goals against average and a .939 save percentage.
In the quarterfinals against Holy Cross, Strang stopped 111-of-115 Crusader shots (.965) to lead the Lakers to the best-of-three series victory and to advance to the Atlantic Hockey semifinals for the first time in four years. In 14 of his 33 starts, he stopped at least 38 shots and in 17 of his starts, he allowed two goals or fewer.
Freshman Of The Year / Top Forward – Daniel Bahntge
A native of Westlake, Ohio, Bahntge led Mercyhurst in scoring as a freshman, recording 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points. He was named to the Atlantic Hockey Association’s All-Rookie Team, finishing third in points by a rookie in the conference behind Bentley’s Alex Grieve and Brett Switzer, who had 34 and 33 points respectively. Earlier in the season, Bahntge was named the conference’s Rookie of the Week on January 9 and was also the conference’s Rookie of the Month in November. He had his first collegiate hat trick against Sacred Heart on January 6 at the Mercyhurst Ice Center, and then scored both of the Lakers’ goals in last Friday’s game one victory over Holy Cross.
Top Defenseman – Nick Jones
Jones was the only non-freshman from Mercyhurst to be named to an All-Conference team, earning a Third Team nod as a defenseman. A native of Cranberry Township, Pa., Jones led all Laker defensemen in scoring with 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points this season. His ten goals is the most goals by a Laker defenseman since Jamie Hunt scored 12 during the 2005-06 season. Hunt went on to become the first Laker to play in the National Hockey League, skating for the Washington Capitals. In fact, Jones’ ten goals is the tied for third-most by a Mercyhurst defenseman since the 1999-2000 season. T.J. Kemp scored 11 in 2002-03 and then scored 10 during the 2004-05 season.
Jones finished in a tie for third among Atlantic Hockey defensemen with his 24 points this season, trailing only Air Force’s Tim Kirby (28) and Connecticut’s Alex Gerke (25). He was tied with Air Force’s Scott Mathis.
Top Defensive Forward – Daniel O’Donoghue
A native of Port Jefferson Station, New York, O’Donoghue earned the Top Defensive Forward award after posting eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points this season. O’Donoghue was one of the Lakers’ best penalty killers all season and was usually on the team’s top unit when called upon to kill a penalty. The sophomore scored Mercyhurst’s first shorthanded goal of the season against Sacred Heart on January 6 and he was named the Atlantic Hockey Co-Player of the Week on January 23 after posting two goals and two assists in a series at Holy Cross.
Most Improved Player – Randy Cure
Hailing from Bloomington, Minnesota, Cure worked his way into the lineup on a regular basis this past season after being in-and-out of the lineup as a freshman. Although he only posted one assist in 34 games this season, Cure played a valuable role on the Mercyhurst blueline and was also regularly on the team’s penalty killing unit. Primarily a defenseman this past season, Cure was also pressed into services as a third- or fourth-line winger when injuries or illnesses came about. His only point was an assist on the team’s final regular season game of the season against Canisius.
Hustle Award – Edward DeWald
A native of Southampton, Pa., DeWald always gave 100% whether in practice or when he cracked the Mercyhurst lineup. Appearing in 19 games as a freshman, the winger posted one assist on the season – a helper against Niagara University on December 10. Mercyhurst was one game over .500 (9-8-2) when DeWald was in the lineup this season.
Scholar Athlete Award – Grant Gettinger
A native of North Olmsted, Ohio, Gettinger was honored with the Scholar Athlete Award by posting the best numbers in the classroom during the season. Gettinger was also a mainstay on the Mercyhurst blueline in his rookie season, appearing in all but one game and finishing the season with three assists. He earned assists against Alaska, RIT, and Canisius this season and also finished the year as a +1.
- From Mercyhurst news release