SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Craig Cunningham of the Tucson Roadrunners is the 2016-17 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.
On Nov. 19, Cunningham suffered a medical emergency on the ice prior to the start of the Roadrunners’ game against the Manitoba Moose at Tucson Arena. Cunningham’s life was saved by the quick work of medical personnel on the scene and at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital, and by the advanced care he received at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson in the months that followed. Although the incident cost Cunningham part of his left leg and ended his playing career, the Roadrunners captain continues his rehabilition in Tucson and remains an integral member of the Roadrunners team – as well as an inspiration to the entire hockey community.
Prior to the incident, Cunningham had recorded 13 points in 11 games for Tucson, including scoring the first goal in franchise history on Oct. 14, 2016. The 26-year-old native of Trail, B.C., played 319 games in his AHL career with Tucson, Springfield and Providence, totaling 101 goals and 102 assists, and also skated in 63 games in the National Hockey League with Arizona and Boston.
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), Jeff Hoggan (2015) and Tom Kostopoulos (2016).
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 2016-17 regular season ends on Apr. 15, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway the following week.
The winner of the 2016-17 Eddie Shore Award (outstanding defenseman) will be announced later today.