SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Eric Neilson of the Syracuse Crunch has been selected as the winner of the Yanick Dupré Memorial Award as the 2013-14 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year.
This award has been presented annually since 1998 to an AHL player for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations. The Yanick Dupré Memorial Award winner is selected by the AHL and representatives from IOA and American Specialty from among 30 individual team Man of the Year honorees.
A six-time recipient of his team’s Yanick Dupré Award nomination (in five different AHL cities), Neilson has continued an impressive tradition of community service that has been a hallmark of his career. Since joining the Crunch organization in 2012, Neilson has gone above and beyond in his efforts to give back to the Syracuse community.
Neilson’s efforts this year were highlighted by his creation of the “Breakfast with a Champion” program, designing, developing and executing his initiative designed to teach elementary school students the importance of nutrition and healthy eating. Neilson was involved in every step of the program’s planning process, from pitching it to local schools to shopping for groceries to supplying students with tickets to Crunch games as rewards for their participation.
Neilson’s commitment to children was also seen in his work with as the primary speaker in the Crunch’s anti-bullying program, and as the team’s main spokesman for Upstate University Hospital including their “safe kids” public service initiative about concussion prevention. He dedicated time to issues such as men’s and women’s health causes also, generating awareness for breast cancer and heading up the team’s winning “Mustache Movember” team for prostate cancer research.
The AHL’s annual Man of the Year award is named after the late Yanick Dupré, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 24 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. A second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1991, Dupré played four seasons in the AHL with the Hershey Bears and was an AHL All-Star in 1995.
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2013-14 regular season ends on Saturday, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.