By Kris Smith
The first ever Dundee Stars Player of the Year award to be revealed on social media was on Monday night, as the winner of the Community Player of the Year Award was announced.
Forwards, Craig Garrigan, Brett Stovin and Kevin Dufour were nominated, along with defender, Reilly O’Connor but the trophy had to be shared between two players as they were both deemed to have excelled in their work with the local community.
Both, Stovin and O’Connor were revealed as the joint winners after they had shown dedication and commitment to the team and its community values.
Praising the pairs hard work, Stars Head Coach and General Manager, Omar Pacha said: “In my time as a coach and as a general manger, I struggled to find other guys that were more committed to the team concept than those two guys.
“They were great role models and ambassadors for the team and when I speak about growing the culture and the club, obviously we had great guys who are still with us from last year like Matt (Marquardt), Shawn (Boutin) and Drydn (Dow) but those two jumped on board from day one and they were two key assets to the team.
“I was really happy to be naming them as the co-winners, obviously we usually only pick one but it was so hard to determine out of those two.
“Maybe Reilly was not as vocal but he was more determined than ever to help and Stovin is a true leader, a guy that wants to do anything for the club, so I am really happy for both of them.”
Both players made an acceptance speech video for social media and O’Connor said: “The community programme was a lot of fun to be a part of, it allowed me to share my passion for the game with the Dundee community and I hope I inspired some people.”
While Stovin added: “It was a great year and a lot of fun getting to meet all of you in the local community, I tried to connect with as many of you as possible.”
In what was both players debut seasons at senior level, Stovin featured in 50 games, scoring nine goals and assisting 16 times for 25 points and O’Connor made 41 appearances and scored his first senior goal before assisting on a further four from the blue line for five points.
Tuesday night was then the turn of Stars TV, the club’s official television channel, to name their Player of the Year and the four nominees for their award were; goaltender Alex Leclerc, defenseman Dow and forwards, Anthony Beauregard and Dufour.
Netminder, Leclerc was revealed as the winner after making a positive impression on many people around the league in what was his debut season at professional level.
In 56 starts for the Stars, the Canadian stopped 1773 shots, recorded 23 wins and held an 89.91 save percentage.
Stars TV chose their player of the year through a point based system and after taking each players performance over the entire year into consideration, Leclerc emerged as the coherent favourite.
The reason for their choice was: “Alex was chosen because of the high standard he set throughout the season and because he has shown consistency and dedication from the day he arrived in Dundee.”
On Wednesday, Pacha announced who he and his coaching staff had chosen as the Coach’s Player of the Year and they selected defenseman, Dow. The 27-year-old returned in September for a second year on Tayside and led the team from the back.
Explaining his choice, the Stars boss said: “As a human being there is nobody better than Drydn.
“He is a team player, a guy that wants to win and a guy that wears the Dundee Stars proudly on his chest.
“He came here two years ago with a great mindset and came back this year and was involved in our university programme.
“He is a great guy off the ice, a great ambassador to the club and on the ice, without a doubt in my opinion, he had some great performances throughout the season.
“I thought Drydn was also our most consistent player from day one, he logged so many minutes, he played in all situations and he always worked his hardest and is a guy that would continue to compete even if he was sick or unwell.
“So, I am really happy for Drydn, he is a special player and has a special place here with the Stars.”
After discovering that he had won, Dow added: “It is an amazing honour wining the coach’s award and it means a lot to me.
“We had an amazing group of guys and anyone could have won these awards, (because) everyone contributed in their own ways and it was a great team to be a part of.”
Dow also beat his stats from last year, despite playing in less games, as he put up 44 points in 56 matches, contributing 16 goals and 28 assists in this campaign.
The next award to be presented on Thursday was for the Most Improved Player of the Year and there were four players in the running for that accolade.
British players; Kris Inglis, Duncan Speirs and Garrigan were all put forward along with Canadian forward, Colton Kroeker but Garrigan was chosen as the recipient after a second impressive season where the 21-year-old’s progression was clear to see.
Discussing his choice, Pacha commented: “I love how much progression my Brits have made and with Craig, I think everybody has seen his progression over this year.
“He got a lot more ice time and was a key member to our squad, he has a bright future here in Dundee and I think he is a guy that will only continue to get better next year.
“He has that determination, he has that work ethic and there is still obviously a lot to improve with his game but he is on the right path of getting better and hopefully he will be a great asset to this team moving forward.”
In his acceptance speech, Garrigan shared how honoured he felt to win the award and this season, Garrigan made one goal contribution and set-up five more in 56 games for six points, which is a reasonable return for a young prospect.
The last award of the week to be announced was the Tom Wilson Memorial Award on Friday evening and the club present this to a person or group, who have made significant contributions to the club in the past season or for even longer.
This year, the prize went to the Stars TV team and they were recognised for all the hard work they put into producing what it is regarded as one of the best live webcasts of matches in the whole Elite League and for all the other content they produce for the club.
Praising his dedicated volunteers at Stars TV, Omar said: “I don’t think you will have enough words in this article to say what they do.
“Everything I have in place and I have planned, a lot of it comes from the media side of the club, for videos and such, and they are the guys that I lean on so much.
“I am so proud to give them this award on behalf of myself and the club because there is no one else that deserves it more than them.
“There is nobody that puts in more hours than them and without them, three-quarters of my plans would not work.
“So, they are probably some of the most important people at this club and we are very, very lucky to have them.”