With the 2021-22 American Hockey League season now complete, the Belleville Senators are announcing the six winners of the team’s individual awards, recognizing player performance and commitment to the organization throughout the season. This season’s award winners are as follows:
Most Valuable Player – Jake Lucchini
A native of Trail, British Columbia, Lucchini joined the Senators after being acquired from the Laval Rocket just prior to the start of the 2021-22 campaign. The 26-year-old set professional career bests this season in goals (20) assists (31) and points (51) and led the Belleville Sens in overall scoring. He was also the only player to skate in all 72 of Belleville’s regular season games this season.
Belleville Sens Head Coach Troy Mann on Jake Lucchini’s selection as MVP:
“Jake joined our team through a minor league trade with Montreal at a time when there were extra players around and they thought enough of him to find him a place where they thought he could, not only fit it, but get into the lineup on a game-to-game basis. At that time, we were very short up front, and he was certainly a pleasant surprise. He was able to play centre and wing, and brought out a skillset that quite frankly, I was unaware of. As much as we’ve had multiple MVPs, in my opinion over the course of the season, there was a stretch of months where he was arguably our best player.”
Defenceman of the Year – Lassi Thomson
A first-round pick of the Senators in 2019 (19th overall), Thomson was impressive to watch on the Belleville blueline in his first full American Hockey League campaign. After notching 13 points (one goal, twelve assists) over 35 games in the shortened 2020-21 season, Thomson followed that up with 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) in 44 games with the Belleville Sens this season. The 21 year-old from Tampere, Finland, also made his National Hockey League debut on November 11, 2021 and ended up playing 16 games with Ottawa, while registering five assists.
Belleville Sens Head Coach Troy Mann on Lassi Thomson’s selection as Defenceman of the Year:
“That’s why we played the shortened season last year, to bring in prospects and get them acclimated to the pro game. If you look at Lassi’s progression from January of 2021, when he came into the league to know, he’s not the same person and he’s not the same player. He’s grown and is very mature for a young man of 21 years-old, he’s got a lot of NHL qualities already and I think he’s going to be a great defenceman for a long time for the Ottawa Senators. The big things we noticed were his points-per-game for us, his ability to move the puck and he’s not afraid to bring that physical component. We’ve got a lot of really good, young defenceman with Jacob Bernard-Docker, Max Guenette and Jonathan Aspirot in the pipeline, but Thomson really stood out for me.”
Rookie of the Year – Mads Sogaard
After bursting onto the American Hockey League scene with seven consecutive wins to start his career during the shortened 2020-21 season, The Great Dane as he’s affectionately known, was a key piece to Belleville’s success this season. The 21-year-old Sogaard appeared in 35 games with Belleville, posting a goals against average of 2.86, with a save percentage of .908 and a 19-14-1 record. Sogaard also appeared in two games with the Ottawa Senators, earning a win in his NHL debut on April 1, 2022, vs the Detroit Red Wings.
Belleville Sens Head Coach Troy Mann on Mads Sogaard’s selection as Rookie of the Year:
“We had a lot of good rookies this year. We had guys like Egor Sokolov, Cole Reinhardt, Lassi Thomson, and Angus Crookshank as part of the mix last year, but when you look at this year’s crop, Sogaard had a fabulous year. We talk about MVPs and there was a stretch this season when he was the main guy in net and was able to solidify a number of wins. That’s what your goaltender needs to do on nights when your team doesn’t have it, your goaltender needs to be your best player, and I thought he did that on several occasions. Not to take anything away from Jacob Bernard-Docker’s season because he’s been fantastic, especially of late. Or you look at Roby Jarventie’s progression, he’s arguably the youngest player in the whole American Hockey League, we’ve got a couple good ones here. But I think Sogaard deserves it based on some of the wins he stole us at key points in the season.”
Players Choice Award – Colby Williams
Playing in his sixth American Hockey League season, Colby Williams has become known for being a team-first kind of player. The native of Regina, Saskatchewan has never been one to shy away from backing up his teammates on the ice or off and has earned the respect throughout the Senators locker room and with the team’s staff and fans. Williams has eight points (two goals, six assists) this season, with an impressive +10 rating.
Belleville Sens Captain Logan Shaw on Colby Williams’ selection as Players’ Choice Award Winner:
“He’d do anything for anybody on, or off the ice. He’s been to our kids’ birthday parties, even by himself, just because he likes being there for people. He’s been laying big hits, fighting for us and knows how to play the right way. He’s earned the coaches’ trust and always puts himself in a position to succeed. He won this award because everyone respects him and thinks he’s a great player and a great person.”
Coaches’ Choice Award – Mark Kastelic
Phoenix, Arizona-born Kastelic has had a strong follow-up season to his rookie AHL campaign in 2020-21. The 5th round draft pick in 2019 has 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 63 games this season and has been a key piece of the Senators physical identity. The 23 year-old also made is National Hockey League debut this season and put up four points (two goals, two assists) in 16 games with Ottawa.
Belleville Sens Head Coach Troy Mann on Mark Kastelic’s selection as Coaches’ Choice Winner:
“One thing I love about our organization is that we have a lot of character players in the room and a lot of guys that do it right. You look at guys like Logan Shaw, Dillon Heatherington, Scott Sabourin, Andrew Agozzino and others, our leadership core is fantastic, and they do a really good job. But, for me, the thing I love about Mark Kastelic is that he meets you halfway as a coach, plus his work ethic and compete level are as good as you’re going to get in a player. He’s just become a real good pro and when we talk about the details and the intangibles we want in an individual player on our team, we think Mark Kastelic is right at the top of our list.”
Man of the Year – Frederic Lemay
While the Man of the Year Award typically recognizes a player who shows commitment to the community as well as their work on the ice, the Senators went a different direction this season, due to the pandemic. Lemay is being recognized for his tireless efforts to not only handle his duties as the team’s video coach, but also acting as the team services coordinator, booking hotels, meals, and travel, while also keeping up with close to 200 roster moves between Belleville Ottawa.
Belleville Sens Head Coach Troy Mann on Frederic Lemay’s selection has Man of the Year Award Winner:
“I talked to Peter MacTavish and Sean McCauley about this award, since we usually give it to a player who exemplifies our organization on-and-off the ice and is active in all the community work that we do, and we had some good ones this year. Jack Dougherty, who has missed a lot of time with injury, was fantastic with a lot of the things we were able to accomplish this year in the community, but it wasn’t a full year of that. I talked with Sean and Peter just about the job that Freddy has done for us the last two seasons. He’s taken over the team services area, on top of his video coach job and he also helps with a lot of the contracts and logistics within the Hockey Operations Department. He’s a multi-tasker with a tremendous work ethic and we thought it was important to showcase that. To me, he was the unanimous choice for that award this year.”
The Belleville Senators begin their first-ever Calder Cup Playoff run on Wednesday May 4, 2022 in Rochester against the Americans. The series shifts back to Belleville for Game 2 on Friday May 6, 2022 and Sunday May 7, 2022 (if necessary). Tickets for all Belleville Sens home playoff games are available via Ticketmaster, with more information on group tickets, premium seating and more, available at bellevillesens.com.
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