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Rocchio Named Semifinalist For Gridiron Club Award

Suffolk hockey sophomore forward John Rocchio has been named a semifinalist for the seventh Joe Concannon Award given by the Gridiron Club. Rocchio, from East Greenwich, RI, is one of 18 Division II and III hockey players nominated for the award. Rocchio finished the season with 13 goals and 30 assists in 23 games.

Gridiron Club of Greater Boston president Dave O’Brien today announced the eighteen semifinalists for the seventh annual Joe Concannon Award, given annually to New England’s best American-born Division II/III college hockey player.

Three Concannon Award semifinalists from last season, all of them among the leading scorers for their respective teams, head the field of nominees. St. Anselm College senior defenseman Brett Smith (Hudson, MA) collected five goals and 13 assists in leading the Hawks in their defense of their Northeast-10 title. UMass-Dartmouth senior Kyle McCullough (Danvers, MA) had 17 goals and 26 assists in pacing the Corsairs to the regular season crown in the ECAC Northeast. Stonehill sophomore Brendan O’Brien (Braintree, MA) posted 11goals along with 28 assists despite receiving a lot of extra attention from opposing defenders.

Eight Candidates from NESCAC Teams

Five outstanding forwards, two all-around defensemen, and a solid goaltender are the NESCAC representatives on the Concannon Award semifinalist slate. Senior forward Sean Ellis (Springfield, MA) captained Amherst and contributed 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points. Connecticut College junior forward Rob Campbell (Reading, MA) paced the Camels to their first conference playoff berth ever, leading the team in scoring with 11 goals and 18 assists for 29 points. Senior Greg Osborne (Stoughton, MA) led the Colby White Mules in scoring with 21 goals and 19 assists; he passed the century mark in career points with 104 in just 96 games played.

Senior John Sales (Downington, PA) from Middlebury College is a rarity in today’s athletic world; he is a twelve-letter athlete for the Panthers, with four letters each in soccer, hockey and, after this Spring, lacrosse. This season, Sales has eight goals and twelve assists for 20 points and has been a vocal leader for the defending national champions. Rounding out this strong group of forwards is Will Bennett (Boston, MA) from Wesleyan. The senior co-captain collected 11 goals and 24 assists, powering the Cardinals to their best season in school history, contention for the NESCAC regular season title, and their first home-ice playoff seeding ever.

On defense, Colby junior Arthur Fritch (South Boston, MA) has been a strong all-around contributor to the White Mules’ season as the second leading scorer with ten goals and 25 assists. Senior captain John Halverson (Lexington, MA) has embraced Trinity’s new 3-2 alignment and leads the team in scoring with 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points. Backstopping the NESCAC nominees is sophomore goaltender Mike Palladino (Litchfield, CT), who took over the starting role at Wesleyan and averaged 2.12 goals per game for the Cardinals.

From the ECAC East, senior defenseman Joe Huchko (Congers, NY) captained a young team at Castleton into league title contention and the national rankings in the Spartans’ fourth season of varsity hockey. Huchko tallied seven power play goals. Senior goaltender David Beckles (Stamford, CT) has been a solid and consistent goaltender for the University of Southern Maine, posting thirteen wins, a goals-against average of 2.68, and a save percentage of .906. Sophomore Brad Baldelli (Northboro, MA) from Babson led the Beavers in scoring with 15 goals and 32 points while emerging as a team leader.

Rounding out the list of semifinalists are three stellar offensive performers and one outstanding goaltender from the ECAC Northeast. UMass-Dartmouth junior forward Jeff Grant (Burlington, MA) led the Corsairs in scoring with 21goals and 27assists for 48 points, including seven power play goals and six game winners, while surpassing the 100 career-point mark.

Senior forward Ryan Moore (Randolph, MA) scored 22 goals and 18 assists in leading his Fitchburg State Falcons to yet another playoff appearance. Sophomore John Rocchio (East Greenwich, RI) headed his Suffolk team in scoring with 13 goals and 30 assists for 43 points in just 23 games. Jeff Green (Medway, MA), a sophomore goalie for UMass-Dartmouth, was a big factor in the Corsairs’ success, playing every game for Coach John Rolli’s team and posting a 23-2-1 record that includes three shutouts.

“No doubt we have seen the most exciting and competitive season at the D-II and D-III levels, with lots of up- and-coming programs establishing themselves with some truly notable performers in each of the three leagues in New England,” said Concannon Award Committee Chairman Tim Costello.

“In addition to proving themselves as superb hockey players, each of the nominated players exemplifies sportsmanship and character in representing his team and institution. This year in particular the committee’s final decision will not be an easy one, based on the caliber of play and competitive nature of all of the conferences. We will be very diligent in evaluating the final performances of the season in order to determine this year’s winner.”

The Gridiron Club will announce the winners of the Joe Concannon Award and the Walter Brown Award, college hockey’s oldest nationally recognized accolade, in mid-March. Both awards will be presented to the respective recipients at the New England Hockey Writers’ Dinner on Wednesday, April 11 at the Prince Restaurant in Saugus, Mass.

Joe Concannon Award Winners

2001: Keith Aucoin, Norwich University
2002: Michael Carosi, Bowdoin College
2003: Nick Stauder, Salem State College
2004: Jim Pancyzkowski, Wesleyan University
Michael O’Sullivan, Curry College
2005: Brian Doherty, Curry College
Joseph Ori, Trinity College
2006: Adam Dann, Bowdoin College

The Joe Concannon Award

The Gridiron Club established the Joe Concannon Award in 2001 to honor Joe, a lifelong devotee of college hockey, former member of the Walter Brown Award Selection Committee and, as a journalist, a staunch advocate for the amateur athletes he knew and covered. A native of Litchfield, Connecticut, Joe graduated from Boston University in 1961. He served as sports information director (SID) at Holy Cross before joining the Boston Globe in the late 1960’s to cover college sports. Joe declined frequent invitations by his editors to write about Boston’s major professional sports teams, preferring to concentrate on the colleges, distance running and golf. He wrote the book Marathoning with Bill Rodgers and established the highly successful Litchfield Road Race in his hometown. Joe was a world traveler and was especially proud of his Irish heritage, frequently sojourning to the Emerald Isle. He passed away in 2000.

The Gridiron Club of Greater Boston: “Keepers of the Flame”
Founded in 1932, the Gridiron Club’s mission is to promote and nurture the ideals of citizenship, sportsmanship, leadership, and athletic and academic achievement. Through its annual dinners and golf tournament the club raises funds for worthy causes and carries on the tradition of honoring exemplary players, coaches and officials at all levels of sport.
The Bulger Lowe Award, established in 1939 and awarded to New England’s best college football player, is the second oldest honor of its kind in American sport after the Heisman Trophy. The Nils V. “Swede” Nelson Award, inaugurated in 1946, honors college football players who also distinguish themselves in the classroom. The club assumed responsibility for the Walter Brown Award, the nation’s oldest college hockey honor, in 1977.
The Gridiron Club welcomes membership applications from coaches, officials, journalists, and fans of all sports.
For information, please contact any club officer or write to club secretary Dick Lawrence, 9 Broadway, Unit 320, Saugus, MA 01906. Phone: 781-231-0372. Email: rlawr51881@aol.com

2006-2007 Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Officers:Dave O’Brien, President; Al Robichaud, First Vice President; Tim Whelan, Second Vice President; Fran Allen, Third Vice President; Richard (Dick) Lawrence, Secretary; Paul Costello, Treasurer; Edmund (Ned) Cully, Historian.

2006-2007 Gridiron Club Hockey Awards Selection Committee and Advisory Board: Tim Costello, Chairman; Joe Bertagna, Tom Burke, Paul Costello, Ned Cully, Bob DeGregorio, Kevin Fleming, Steve Hagwell, Dick Lawrence, Hon. Gordon A. Martin, Jr., Bob Norton, Paul Stewart, William J. Stewart III, and Brian Sullivan.