May 01, 2012
The voting wasn't even close when it came down to identifying the Ontario Hockey League's top defenceman.
Niagara IceDogs blueliner Dougie Hamilton was far and away the popular pick, earning 80 out of a possible 95 points from league general managers.
"Obviously this year has been a ton of fun and hopefully we can keep going," said Hamilton. "It's a big honour for me to win this award. I think in the past few years I've kind of been watching a lot of the best defencemen in the OHL and trying to get to that point one day and for me, it's exciting to be at this point.
"It's an honour with so many guys coming through the OHL and winning this award and going on to the NHL so hopefully I can follow that soon."
The first-round pick of the Boston Bruins finished ahead of fellow defencemen Scott Harrington of the London Knights (36 points), and Cody Ceci of the Ottawa 67's (28 points). Hamilton and Harrington were both members of the Canadian world junior squad that finished with bronze this year in Edmonton. Both defencemen will also face each other on Thursday when the IceDogs and Knights begin the OHL championship series in London.
This season with the IceDogs, Hamilton finished with 17 goals and 55 assists for 72 points in 50 games along with a plus-37 rating to lead all OHL defencemen in the regular season. The 18-year-old has also been a clutch performer in the playoffs for the Eastern Conference champions scoring four goals and 15 assists in 15 games.
"The on-ice stuff is easy to see," said Niagara head coach and GM Marty Williamson. "He's a fantastic hockey player and he's going to have a great pro career. We can't say enough — he averaged over a point per game and was plus-minus leader on our team. The on-ice stuff is easy to see how good he is, but what a great role model he is for our organization."
Proving that he's equal parts brain and brawn, the 6-foot-4, 193-pound defenceman was also last year's recipient of the CHL's Scholastic Player of the Year award. For that trophy, Hamilton averaged 94 percent in six Grade 12 level which included calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry.
"He's a former academic award winner and he's done so much," said Williamson. "He's looked up to in this community with the young guys and he's really emphasized hockey in this community."