SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League has announced that defenseman Brandon Rogers of the Houston Aeros has been selected the winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award as the 2008-09 American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year. The award is presented annually to an AHL player for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations.
An alternate captain with the Aeros, Rogers has been a fan favorite and team ambassador since arriving in Houston last season. He lent his time and energy to the team’s many community efforts in 2008-09, including frequent visits to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he always lightens the mood with patients in the Houston Aeros Power Playroom, which was renovated courtesy of the team. He also netted more than $2,600 in tips at the annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner & Auction, an event that raises funds for the hospital.
Rogers developed a strong friendship this season with 16-year-old Brandon Gordon, who was an avid hockey player until he lost his femur and hip to cancer. A Michigan native, Gordon traveled with his mother to Texas for treatment at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and dropped the ceremonial first puck at an Aeros game in November. Rogers met Gordon that night and frequently checked in on him while he was in Texas and after he returned home, right up until the teenager lost his battle with cancer on Feb. 22.
Rogers’ team helped raise $3,500 at the 14th annual Houston Aeros Charity Golf Classic in December. On the same afternoon that he made the check presentation, Rogers continued to spread the holiday spirit with a visit to local television station KHOU, where he delivered toys from the team’s Toyota Center Aeros Charities Toy Drive. Other initiatives included helping build bicycles for underprivileged children during the holiday season; a visit to Bo’s Place, a bereavement center for grieving children and their families in Houston; and attending the Aeros Booster Club’s Player Appreciation Banquet, where he helped raise better than $2,000 to benefit the Kids Unlimited Foundation, an organization which works with young cancer patients and their families.
A 27-year-old native of Rochester, N.H., Rogers is in his fourth professional season and has appeared in 266 career American Hockey League games, contributing 10 goals and 72 assists for 82 points.
The AHL’s annual Man of the Year award is named after the late Yanick Dupre, 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, Dupre played four seasons in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, and participated in the 1995 AHL All-Star Game.
Currently in its 73rd season of play, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 50 million fans have attended AHL games across North America over the past eight years. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.