Youngstown Phantoms captain did not miss a game in two-year USHL career
Chicago, IL - The United States Hockey League announced that Youngstown Phantoms forward Mike Ambrosia has been named the recipient of the 2011-12 USHL Curt Hammer Award.
The Curt Hammer Award has been presented annually since the 1988-89 season and recognizes the USHL player who distinguishes himself both on and off the ice by demonstrating outstanding performance skills, leadership, pride, and determination. The award is given in memory of the late Curt Hammer, who served as President of the Des Moines Buccaneers for three seasons (1984-87) and also held the role of Secretary for the USHL.
Ambrosia recently completed his second season in the USHL with the Youngstown Phantoms and not only led the team in scoring with 65 points (18g, 47a), but played a key role in all on-ice situations for the team while appearing in all 60 regular season games. His 47 assists tied for the third most in the entire USHL and both his point and assist totals set new team records for the Phantoms. The native of Chatham, New Jersey put together a League season best 10-game assist streak from January 14th to February 10th, dishing out 15 assists over that span and leading his team to a 6-3-1 record.
It was the second consecutive season that Ambrosia appeared in all 60 regular season games for the Phantoms. Over his USHL career, he accumulated 93 points (28g, 65a) and a plus-nine rating in those 120 games. He also helped Youngstown earn their first-ever trip to the USHL Clark Cup Playoffs and collected five points (2g, 3a) in six postseason contests.
Prior to the 2011-12 season, Ambrosia was unanimously selected by his teammates to serve as team captain, a role that proved to be vital for the Phantoms and first-year head coach Anthony Noreen. The "lead-by-example" philosophy of Ambrosia helped the Phantoms set several team records this season, including wins (32), home wins (18), road wins (14), standings points (71), and goals scored (202). He was also a valuable mentor for young players on how to manage the demands of being a USHL player both on and off the ice, most notably to forward Austin Cangelosiwho put up 59 points (29g, 30a) in his first USHL season and was selected to the 2011-12 USHL All-Rookie Team.
"Mike Ambrosia is the definition of what we want a Youngstown Phantom to be," said Phantoms Head Coach Anthony Noreen. "All year I have credited the turnaround of this organization to our team's willingness to 'buy-in' to what our staff was putting in place, and no greater credit for that belongs to anyone more than Mike and the way he has led this team. I know that I am better coach and person for having him around the last two years. Wherever Mike goes, he will be a great representation of the USHL and what it is all about."
Ambrosia also spent countless hours helping his Phantoms teammates balance hockey with academics and regularly served as a tutor to assist with teammates' schoolwork, sharing his commitment to education that helped him graduate from Delbarton High School in New Jersey with a 3.9 grade-point-average and score 2220 on the SAT exam. He will continue his hockey and education pursuits next fall at Princeton University.
The Phantoms captain, who just recently celebrated his 20thbirthday, was heavily involved in the Youngstown community, serving at a local food bank, participating in reading programs at local elementary schools, and leading the team's efforts for the "Hockey for Health" program in which the Phantoms spread awareness for fitness and the game of hockey. Ambrosia continued to support the growth of the game in the Youngstown community by weekly attending practice and skating sessions of local youth hockey teams and serving as an instructor for youth skills classes that took place on Sunday, many times after the Phantoms had returned from long USHL road trips.
"Mike's stature both within the Phantoms organization, and as a contributor to the Youngstown community, set a standard for scholar-athletes in any sport," said USHL President and Commissioner Skip Prince. "Perhaps no single player in the League this year did more for his team and teammates, captaining them to the organization's first playoff run while regularly participating in off-ice events and showing a true leader's talent. The Curt Hammer Award is one of the USHL's most prestigious and significant honors, as we believe it stands for the best in sport, and Mike Ambrosia personifies that. Congratulations to Mike, and to the Phantoms organization."
Curt Hammer, a dedicated volunteer and supporter of hockey in the Des Moines community until succumbing to cancer in 1987, was one of the founders Hart-Hammer, Inc., a commercial heating and air conditioning ventilation equipment sales firm. The company still operates today providing extensive sales and engineering support in Iowa, Nebraska, and western Illinois. The annual USHL award was established to honor his commitment to the League and the perseverance he displayed in continuing his work through hockey while battling the illness.
Other USHL players nominated for the Curt Hammer Award this season included Cedar Rapids RoughRiders forward and captainStu Wilson, Chicago Steel forward and captain Andrew Miller, Des Moines Buccaneers forward and captain Gasper Kopitar, Fargo Force goaltender Zane Gothberg, Muskegon Lumberjacks defenseman and assistant captain Travis Walsh, and Waterloo Black Hawks forward and captain Aaron Pearce.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 10th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2011-12. With 28 picks during the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 13 NHL draftees on its rosters this season, and over 250 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools this season, the USHL is emerging as the world's foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.USHL.com or visit the League's multiple social media platforms, including Facebook (www.facebook.com/ushlhockey), twitter (www.twitter.com/ushl), and YouTube (www.youtube.com/ushlinteractive). Fans can also watch USHL action online all season long, live or on-demand via FASTHockey (ushl.fasthockey.com).
It's not just hockey. It's the USHL.