Our series on the mid-season award winners in the ECHL continues today with the Defensemen of the Year. So far, the results for Rookie of the Year and Goaltender of the Year have been fairly predictable, but today, we have one that maybe a jaw dropper to those who avidly watch the ECHL.
What makes today’s results so interesting is that two of our defensemen nominated are on the best team in the league and they did not win, nor did the leading point getter among defensemen.
Our writers chose Wheeling Nailers defenseman Kevin Schultze as the ECHL Defenseman of the Year at the midway point of the season. Schultze was selected to this year’s ECHL All-Star team and is quietly have a great rookie campaign for head coach Jeff Christian. The 23-year-old native of White Bear Lake, MN has 32 points (7G, 25A) in 34 games, which is seven behind Matt Register from Colorado and one behind the rookie lead, set by Nolan Zajac in Toledo.
The ECHL fans selected Joel Chouinard from the Allen Americans as their defenseman of the year. The Allen rearguardsman is in his seventh season as a pro and is on pace to have his best season as a professional. Currently, Chouinard leads all defensemen with a +25 rating to go along with six goals and 19 assists. Earlier this season, Chouinard was on a run of collecting points in 11 of 12 Allen Americans games. When combined with fellow offensive defenseman David Makowski, Chouinard adds a playmaking ability from the blue line that is hard to beat, especially with Allen’s big guns up front.
Runners up for Defenseman of the Year among the fans include Matt Register (COL), Nolan Zajac (TOL), and Jacob MacDonald (TOL).
Tomorrow, we look at who wins the Coach of the Year and MVP in the ECHL.