SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Bracken Kearns of the Binghamton Devils is the 2017-18 winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.
Kearns has skated in 900 games over 13 professional seasons in a career defined by determination. Undrafted after four seasons at the University of Calgary, Kearns began his pro career in the ECHL in 2005 and played five full years in the AHL before making his National Hockey League debut with the Florida Panthers at the age of 30. Now 36, Kearns has recorded 14 goals and 29 assists for 43 points in 67 games while providing veteran leadership to a young Binghamton club this season. He was also selected to serve as the captain of the Eastern Conference at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic, and he appeared in his 700th regular-season AHL game on Jan. 6, 2018.
A native of West Vancouver, B.C., Kearns shows 176 goals and 262 assists for 438 points in 732 games for his AHL career in Binghamton, Bridgeport, Worcester, San Antonio, Rockford, Norfolk, Milwaukee and Cleveland. He also has eight points in 35 NHL contests with Florida, San Jose and the N.Y. Islanders.
This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1978, honors the late Fred T. Hunt, a long-time contributor to the league who won three Calder Cup championships as a player and three more as a general manager during a career spent primarily with the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Previous winners of the award include Ross Yates (1983), Glenn Merkosky (1987, ’91), Bruce Boudreau (1988), Murray Eaves (’89, ’90), John Anderson (1992), Tim Tookey (1993), Ken Gernander (1996, 2004), Randy Cunneyworth (2000), Mike Keane (2007), Bryan Helmer (2011), Brandon Davidson (2013), Jake Dowell (2014), Tom Kostopoulos (2016) and Craig Cunningham (2017).
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 31 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 2017-18 regular season ends on Apr. 15, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2018 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway the following week.
The winner of the 2017-18 Louis A.R. Pieri Award (outstanding coach) will be announced on Monday.