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Caruso, Gustafson, Mayer earn AHL awards

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO Scott Howson has announced that the AHL Board of Governors has selected the 2020-21 recipients of several awards for excellence and service.

Melissa Caruso, the American Hockey League’s Vice President, Hockey Operations/Governance, has been selected as the winner of the James C. Hendy Memorial Award, given to the outstanding executive in the American Hockey League for 2020-21.

Caruso was a key contributor in leading the AHL through a challenging 2020-21 season, managing multiple scheduling contingencies and temporary franchise relocations, and supporting a new President and CEO and a new Vice President, Hockey Operations through the daily operation the league during the COVID-19 pandemic and its return to play in February. Caruso’s responsibilities also include overseeing the AHL player registry and transaction process, managing enforcement and compliance for the league’s Performance Enhancing Substances Program, and maintaining league governance documents such as the Constitution and Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Caruso, who joined the AHL office in 2009, is one of three women who make up the AHL’s hockey operations department, and is the second woman ever to be recognized with the Hendy Award following Charlotte Checkers CEO Tera Black in 2015-16.

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

San Jose Barracuda Vice President/Governor Jon Gustafson has been honored with the Thomas Ebright Award in recognition of career contributions to the AHL.

Gustafson, whose relationship with the AHL dates back to his time as a goaltender with the St. John’s Maple Leafs in 1992-93, oversees all business operations for the Barracuda, including ticket sales, marketing, corporate partnerships, and public and community relations. He is a long-time member of the AHL Board of Governors and the league’s executive committee, and his leadership has been instrumental in league accomplishments such as revenue growth, schedule unification and the creation of the Pacific Division in 2015.

In more than 20 years as a leader within the San Jose Sharks organization, Gustafson has overseen a dramatic growth of the game of hockey in the Bay Area, including the vision and planning behind the expansion of the Sharks Ice at San Jose facility to a multi-rink complex that will feature the new state-of-the-art home of the Barracuda beginning in 2022.

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

Veteran referee Tim Mayer has been named the 2020-21 recipient of the Michael Condon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions by an on-ice official.

A resident of Kentwood, Mich., Mayer has been a member of the AHL’s officiating staff since 2009. He was selected by the league to work the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic in Utica, along with more than 700 regular-season and Calder Cup Playoff games throughout his career. Mayer’s impact has also been felt outside the AHL, as he has officiated in several other professional leagues and was chosen by the IIHF to referee at the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Mayer has demonstrated the expertise, professionalism and work ethic required to be a successful AHL official, earning the respect and admiration of his fellow referees and linesmen as well as coaches and players around the league.

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 serves as the top development league for all 32 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL in their careers.