AHL announces Ellery Award winners

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today the 2009-10 recipients of the James H. Ellery Memorial Awards, presented annually by the league in recognition of outstanding media coverage of the AHL in three categories.

This year’s winners are Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times-Union (in the newspaper category); Grand Rapids Griffins vice president of community relations and broadcasting Bob Kaser (radio); and sports director Tony Zarrella of WOIO-Channel 19 in Cleveland, Ohio (television).

The Albany River Rats’ original beat writer in 1993, Pete Dougherty continues to provide excellent coverage of the American Hockey League for the Albany Times Union. During the 2009-10 season, Dougherty supplemented his newspaper accounts with frequent entries to his online blog, where he gave readers in-depth game reports, quotes, anecdotes, and analysis. He covered the 2010 AHL All-Star Classic in Portland, reported on the sale of the River Rats’ franchise and the subsequent efforts to bring a new AHL team to Albany, and produced a behind-the-scenes video piece which followed referee Nygel Pelletier on the ice as he worked a River Rats game. Additionally, Dougherty brought his AHL knowledge to the radio as a regular contributor on AM 980 (WOFX) and FM 104.5 (WYNN). 

After 10 seasons as play-by-play voice of the Grand Rapids Griffins, Bob Kaser remains the gold standard in Michigan sports broadcasting. Kaser called Griffins games on AM 1300 (WOOD) in 2009-10 and was instrumental in putting nine games on ESPN 96.1, a new all-sports FM station with an even greater power and reach. Last season, he brought a new feature to each broadcast entitled “AHL: Building NHL Stars,” which profiled an ex-Griffin or other AHL graduate now playing in the NHL. Kaser also oversees all of the Griffins’ community relations efforts and made frequent appearances on local TV and radio shows to promote the Griffins, the AHL, alumni with the parent Detroit Red Wings, and the team’s numerous events in the Grand Rapids community.

Tony Zarrella is the weekday sports director and anchor for Channel 19 (WOIO) in Cleveland and ensures a consistent television presence for the Lake Erie Monsters and the AHL. In addition to previewing upcoming games and promotions, Zarrella frequently hosts his early-evening sportscasts live from Quicken Loans Arena prior to Monsters games and always runs highlights on the late-night newscast. He produces multiple feature pieces on Lake Erie’s players and coaches throughout the season and often welcomes Monsters players on set to co-anchor his nightly “Sports Extra” program. Zarrella reported on several of the Monsters’ community events last season and interviewed celebrities making promotional appearances at games, garnering the team additional publicity.

The James H. Ellery Memorial Awards, which were first presented in 1964, honor the late Mr. Ellery, who served the American Hockey League for 17 years as league secretary and publicity director.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the ninth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2009-10.