TAMPA, FL - College of the Holy Cross men's ice hockey senior forward Matt Vidal (Manorville, New York) has been named the 2016 Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award winner, as announced tonight by the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) at the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida.
The award was established by the HCA in honor of former Army player Derek Hines, who was a "consummate team player and team builder." Hines played at Army from 1999-2003 and was a four-year latter-winner as well as a co-captain his senior season. He was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 1, 2005 in Afghanistan.
The award "recognizes a fearless leader and beloved fan favorite who always places his team first. Displaying exemplary sportsmanship, he's supremely competitive, intelligent and extraordinarily conditioned with an unmatched work ethic. The contributions of this individual, on and off the ice, cannot be measured by statistics alone."
"I am honored and humbled to accept the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award," said Vidal. "The characteristics that he displayed as a player and a person are those in which I could only strive to emulate. His choice to sacrifice for our country deserves the utmost respect and recognition. In receiving this award I will attempt to continue to value what Derek stood for as a player, leader and community member. I would like to thank the Hines family for continuing Derek's legacy and the Hockey Commissioners Association for selecting me as the recipient of this prestigious award. I would also like to thank my family, teammates and coaches for all they have done for me."
Vidal was only the sixth player in the 50-year history of the Holy Cross men's ice hockey program to be a two-time team captain. As a junior, he won the team's Glenn "Spike" Crane Memorial Award which is given to the player who excels most in the little things and leads his teammates by example. He also earned the team's Seventh Player Award which is given to the unsung hero of the team.
"Matt embodies all of the outstanding characteristics of the Derek Hines Award," said Holy Cross head men's ice hockey coach David Berard. "His contributions, both on and off the ice, have made an immeasurable impact on our program. The qualities that set Matt apart are his leadership skills and devotion to his teammates. He has the uncanny ability to push himself to reach his full potential as a player, while also positively supporting, influencing and encouraging his teammates to do the same. Matt is a special person, who embodies the definition of the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award. His fearlessness, not only on the ice, but also in life, has revealed his character amidst many challenges that he has faced. Through it all, he has shown great strength, courage and perseverance. He has built a legacy of leadership and teamwork that will last well beyond his time at Holy Cross."
Not only has Vidal made a positive impact on his teammates, he has touched the lives of members of the local community. Over the past four years, he has been a member of "Power Play Points For Pink," and has served as the President for the last three seasons. Every time the Holy Cross men's ice hockey team scored a power play goal, or through one-time check donations, money would go to "Pink Revolution," an alliance of dedicated individuals with a unified commitment to those touched by breast cancer in Worcester.
With his leadership, the organization has raised an estimated $50,000 over the last four years. Vidal has also been a threeyear volunteer for Working for Worcester helping build a playground in 2013 and 2015, while he transformed an outdoor parking lot into a basketball court in 2014.
Vidal, who is an Economics and Philosophy major, is a two-time member of the Atlantic Hockey All-Academic team and has been inducted into the Holy Cross chapter of Phi Sigma Tau, the international Honors Society in Philosophy. He is also a 360 leader in the Holy Cross Leadership Academy, earning the Leader of Distinction Award in 2015-2016. Vidal played in 136 career games with 14 goals and 46 assists for 60 points. He just recently signed with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL.
The other finalists for this year's award were Drew Brown of Providence College (Hockey East), Soren Jonzzon of Quinnipiac University (ECAC Hockey), Tommy Olczyk of Penn State University (Big10), Coltyn Sanderson of the University of North Dakota (NCHC) and Justin Woods of the University of Alaska (WCHA.)
The Hockey Commissioners Association coordinates the honor. Each of the six hockey conferences nominates a player to a national ballot. From there, sports information directors from each conference vote on a winner, "who displays exemplary sportsmanship, is supremely competitive, intelligent and extraordinarily conditioned with an unmatched work ethic. The contributions of this individual, on and off the ice, cannot be measured by statistics alone."
Recipients of the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award
Year - Recipient/Class/Position/Institution
2007 - Dan Shribman, SR, Forward, Dartmouth College
2008 - Chase Podsiad, SR, Defenseman, Army West Point
2009 - Mike Phillipich, SR. Forward, U.S. Air Force Academy
2010 - Jordan Pietrus, SR, Forward, Brown University
2011 - Kyle Schmidt, SR, Forward, University of Minnesota-Duluth
2012 - Bobby Farnham, SR, Forward, Brown University
2013 - Kyle Murphy, SR, Forward, Providence College
2014 - Brice O'Connor, SR, Defenseman, University of Maine
2015 - P.J. Musico, SR. Goaltender, Penn State University
2016 - Matt Vidal, SR. Forward, College of the Holy Cross