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AHL announces winners of excellence awards

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews has announced that the league has named the 2014-15 recipients of several awards for excellence and service to the league.

The announcements came Wednesday evening at a gala reception during the Board of Governors’ Annual Meeting at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Syracuse Crunch senior vice president of business operations Vance Lederman has been selected as the winner of the James C. Hendy Memorial Award, given to the outstanding executive in the American Hockey League for 2014-15.

A prominent and extremely well liked member of the Syracuse community, Lederman is a savvy businessman who has been integral in managing a small-market team to profitability year after year. This past season, Lederman played a pivotal role in the staging of the Toyota Frozen Dome Classic, the first pro hockey game ever played at Syracuse University’s storied Carrier Dome. The televised event drew more than 30,000 fans to the Dome – an all-time record for indoor professional hockey in the U.S. – and Lederman’s efforts helped make the event a hit with corporate partners as well. A member of the Crunch’s management group since the team’s inception in 1994, Lederman is also an AHL alternate governor and has served the league on a variety of committees.

The James C. Hendy Award is named for the late Jim Hendy, a Hockey Hall of Famer and long-time statistician and historian for the AHL who won four Calder Cups as general manager of the original Cleveland Barons.

Michael Andlauer was honored with the Thomas Ebright Award in recognition of career contributions to the AHL. Andlauer had an ownership stake in the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs from 2002 until 2015, including the last 11 seasons as owner, governor and chairman of the club, and served critical leadership roles as a member of the AHL’s Board of Governors. Andlauer forged a successful development partnership with the Montreal Canadiens – including winning the 2007 Calder Cup championship – while also displaying an unwavering commitment to the Hamilton community, most notably developing the Bulldogs Foundation into one of the AHL’s most successful off-ice initiatives.

The Thomas Ebright Award honors Tom Ebright, the former owner and governor of the Baltimore Skipjacks and Portland Pirates who passed away in 1997.

The Utica Comets and Brian O’Neill of the Manchester Monarchs were named the 2014-15 winners of the President’s Awards.

The Utica Comets saw increases in corporate sales and full season-ticket sales in 2014-15, playing 40 out of their 51 home games during the regular season and playoffs in front of capacity crowds at the Utica Memorial Auditorium. The Comets organization also remained a pillar in the local community, and continues to excel in areas like fan experience and game presentation. The Comets hosted the successful 2015 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino, and on the ice reached the Calder Cup Finals in just their second season of play as the top affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks.

In his third professional season, Brian O’Neill had a career year in 2014-15. He led the league in points (80), assists (58) and plus/minus (+30, tied) while helping the Manchester Monarchs to an AHL-best 50-17-6-3 record in the regular season, earning the Les Cunningham Award as league’s most valuable player. He then recorded 10 goals and 10 assists in 19 playoff contests as the Monarchs captured their first Calder Cup championship. The 27-year-old native of Yardley, Pa., was a standout at Yale University before joining the Los Angeles Kings organization in 2012.

The President’s Awards are given to an AHL organization for overall excellence, and to an AHL player in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in the past year.

Veteran linesman Mike Emanatian has been named the 2014-15 recipient of the Michael Condon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions by an on-ice official. A native of Watervliet, N.Y., Emanatian is one of the longest-tenured members of the league’s officiating staff, having worked games primarily in eastern New York since 1986. He has been selected for four Calder Cup Finals and officiated the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic in Binghamton.

The Michael Condon Memorial Award was created in 2002 following the sudden passing of veteran AHL linesman Mike Condon.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 14th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2014-15.