A pair of highly-touted U.S. Division I college hockey players are the St. John’s male and female athletes of the year for 2019.
In addition to Alex Newhook and Maggie Connors being named top athletes, the St. John’s-based Atlantic Rock under-19 rugby squad was named team of the year.
The awards presentation for 2019 was a little different than previous years. Instead of a formal dinner and announcement at City Hall, winners were announced Wednesday night at Mile One Centre, during at the Newfoundland Growlers-Maine Mariners ECHL game.
That follows tradition of original athlete of the year announcements. In the 1950s and early 60s, winners of the city’s top athletic prize were announced during a St. John’s Senior Hockey League game at old Memorial Stadium.
On hand to present he Tom ‘Dynamite’ Dunne and Margaret ‘Mag’ Davis Memorial Awards for male and female athletes of the year were family representatives Tom Dunne and Bill Davis, deputy mayor Sheilagh O’Leary, Councillor Jamie Korab and St. John’s Athlete of the Year Committee chairman Don Power.
It’s the second straight athlete of the year honour for Connors, who was the city’s top athlete for 2018.
Connors finished 14 points ahead of runner-up Catherine Barrett in voting conducted by the Athlete of the Year Committee.
Barrett is a member of Canada’s national artistic swimming team which is bound for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Road runner Kate Bazeley finished third in voting.
Last year, Connors dressed for Canada's national women's development hockey team in a three-game exhibition series with the United States national development team in August in Lake Placid, N.Y.
In her first season of NCAA Division I hockey with the Princeton Tigers in 2018-19, Connors was second on the Tigers in scoring with a team-high 26 goals and 43 points. She was 10th in the NCAA in points per game (1.34), second in the U.S. in goals per game (0.81), first in the nation in power-play goals (10), fourth in the nation in game-winning goals (6), and third in the NCAA in points per game for a freshman (1.34).
Connors was a first-team All-Ivy League all-star and second-team All-ECAC Hockey all-star. In addition, she was named to the ECAC All-Rookie team.
Newhook, a 19-year-old freshman at Boston College, closed out his Canadian junior hockey career last season in the British Columbia Hockey League with the Victoria Grizzlies.
He was the BCHL’s MVP and Brett Hull Trophy winner as the league’s scoring champ with 38 goals, 64 assists and 102 points in 53 games while captaining the Grizzlies.
On top of that, Newhook was also named the top forward in Canadian junior A hockey for 2018-19.
His junior career was capped off in June when the Colorado Avalanche made him the 16th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Internationally, Newhook starred for Canada last April at the world under-18 championship in Sweden where he was named one of Canada's top three players at the tournament. He had five goals and five assists in 10 games.
Canada dropped a 5-2 decision to the United States in the bronze-medal game.
Despite his freshman status with Boston College, Newhook is one of the Eagles’ top scorers in U.S. NCAA hockey this season.
He was the Hockey East conference’s most recent player of the week.
Newhook totaled 34 points in voting, 16 more than Paralympian Liam Hickey, the St. John’s athlete of the year from 2016-18.
Tyler Boland, a third-year centre with the defending Canadian university men’s hockey champion UNB Reds, finished third in the male voting.
Congratulations to all the nominees & winners of the @CityofStJohns 2019 Athlete of the Year award. It is amazing to see the world class talent in our city and province & it is our privilege to honour these athletes this evening. https://t.co/1jEQiNyCE9— Mayor Danny Breen 🇨🇦 (@DannyBreenNL) February 20, 2020
The St. John’s-based Atlantic U-19 squad played host to the Canadian championship in August and thumped the heavily-favoured Ontario Blues 21-5 on The Rock’s home turf, the Swilers Rugby Complex in St. John’s.
Of the 25 players on the Atlantic regional team, 18 are from St. John’s, including co-captains Michael McCarthy and Campbell Clarke.
Under heavy rain, the Rock steamrolled Ontario early on, scoring a pair of first-half tries by McCarthy and Connor McKinney for a 14-0 lead, with Laurie Baldwin making good on the conversions.
Alex Hickman scored a try early in the second half with another convert by Baldwin to push the score to 21-0. Ontario managed to score a try late in the game to make it a 21-5 final.
The Rock gathered 41 points, while the Galway Hitmen fastpitch softball team totalled 34 votes. The NL Black Horse ball hockey team was third.
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