MACON, Ga. – For the past four months, we’ve been treated to what we missed since the previous March – in-person hockey.
The most unusual of seasons has treated us to some top-notch performances on the ice. And the end of any season means one thing – award winners.
As award season arrives, here’s The Sin Bin’s version of the SPHL Award Winners.
Coach of the Year
Kevin Kerr, Macon
Needless to say, Kerr 2.0 in Macon has been a success. The Mayhem are back where Kerr guided them to during his second year in Macon the first time by – entering the postseason as the top seed. Blending together a mix of returners from a year ago and new arrivals from stints with the ECHL or other SPHL teams opting out for the season, Kerr has been able to push all the right buttons in guiding Macon to a 32-6-4 record and SPHL record .810 winning percentage. Macon’s 28-point improvement from last year is also the third-best points improvement from one season to the next in league history.
Jake Wahlin, Pensacola. His 37 points and plus-minus rating of 16 led all rookies in the league.
Jason Tackett, Macon. He was a model of consistency for Macon, averaging 1.45 points per game. No other rookie matched that mark this season.
Nick Master, Knoxville. The Ice Bears put up a lot of goals this season, and Master was a big reason why. His 26 points tied him for third among rookies with Macon’s Ryan Smith and Dean Balsamo.
Casey Johnson, Macon. Good things happened for the Mayhem when he was on the ice, as evidenced by his plus-minus of 20.
Nate Kallen, Macon. Established himself as one of the better two-way players in the league with 19 points, the most of all rookie defensemen.
Ryan Ruck, Macon. Made up one half of the league’s top goalie tandem in Macon alongside Jake Theut. Ruck went 15-4 with a 2.07 GAA that not only easily led all rookies but was also second overall in the SPHL in wins and third in GAA.
Rookie of the Year
Jake Wahlin, Pensacola. On a team rich in veterans, he established himself as one of the leaders with a team-best 37 points.
Logan Nelson, Birmingham. Anytime he was on the ice for Birmingham, teams had to account for him. His 49 points and 36 points were more than anyone else in the league.
Mason Baptista, Macon. The ECHL veteran’s skill and experience translated well to the SPHL. He had 43 points for a Macon team that had its share of players with lots of scoring ability, and his 26 assists also placed him third league-wide.
Rob Darrar, Huntsville: Much has been said about Huntsville’s core of players that know what it takes to play big when it matters most, and Rob Darrar embodies that for the Havoc. Simply put, he makes things happen in the offensive zone as shown from his 32 assists that rates second in the SPHL.
Darren McCormick, Pensacola: He did exactly what was expected when news broke that he’d be playing this season in Pensacola. With 20 goals on the year, it tied for the most in the league alongside Jacob Benson of Knoxville, who himself was a huge part of the Ice Bears success.
Nolan Kaiser, Huntsville. Far and way, he was rated as the league’s defenseman in three offensive categories with 27 points, including 20 assists.
Nick Minerva, Macon. The physical defenseman helped set the tone on the ice for the Mayhem to go with a plus-minus of 19 that ranked him third in the SPHL.
Jake Theut, Macon. From day one, he set the standard for goalie play. His 16 wins were the most of any goalie and his 1.74 GAA and .933 save percentage put him second in the league. Which brings us to…
Most Valuable Player
Austyn Roudebush, Knoxville. The Ice Bears goalie came on the scene in late February and made an impact right away. In his first ten games, he didn’t lose once, posted three shutouts, and gave up more than one goal only one time. By season’s end, he had a 1.71 GAA and .940 save percentage. Since joining Knoxville, Roudebush has accounted for all but four of the Ice Bears wins.