Representatives of the State of Hockey cleaned up this year's USA Hockey annual awards, which were presented Wednesday night during a ceremony at the USA Hockey Annual Congress as part of its 75th anniversary.
Since picking up the game when he was 10-years-old, Bobby Lund has never put his skates away. In April, Lund and his Byfuglien Trucking squad won their fourth consecutive USA Hockey National Championship at the 60 & Over Tier I level. This year’s national championship marked Lund’s fifth straight, as he played for the Minnesota Old Timers in 2008. Lund won a state championship as a member of the Roseau High School hockey team and went on to play at the University of Minnesota Duluth (1959-60, 1962-65). He also was selected for the 1965 U.S. Men’s National Team to compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship in Tampere, Finland. Lund has continued playing at a high level of adult hockey and travels the country with several teams playing in national tournaments.
As an alternate captain for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League, Andrew Welinski helped lead the Gamblers to an Anderson Cup title, thanks to a 47-9-4 record in regular-season play. He was named the 2011-12 USHL Defenseman of the Year and concluded his USHL career by raising the Clark Cup in the USHL playoffs. A two-way defenseman, Welinski was tied for first in the league among defensemen with 15 goals, while his 37 points ranked fifth among blueliners. In the playoffs, Welinski tallied two goals and two assists in 12 games to help the Gamblers win their second Clark Cup in three years. He also represented Team USA at the 2011 World Junior A Challenge as a member of the U.S. Junior Select Team that finished third. During the tournament, Welinski posted a goal and an assist in five games. He was also named Team USA’s Player of the Game against Canada East in the tournament semifinals. The Anaheim Ducks selected the 6-foot-2, 192-pounder in the third round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Welinski will return to his hometown and play for the University of Minnesota Duluth in the 2012-13 season.
Jack Connolly concluded his four-year career at the University of Minnesota Duluth by becoming the fifth Bulldog to earn the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. Connolly’s 60 points in 41 games ranked second in the country in 2011-12, as did his 40 assists, which led to American Hockey Coaches Association West All-America First Team recognition for a second season in a row. Voted the WCHA Player of the Year, he led the conference with 43 points (16-27) in 28 games as the Bulldogs placed second in the WCHA standings. Connolly never missed a game in his Minnesota Duluth career, setting a program record with 166 consecutive games played. He was a three-time All-WCHA First Team selection and an AHCA West All-America Second Team honoree in 2009-10. For his actions on and off the ice, Connolly was the recipient of the 2012 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for classroom, character, community and competition. The winner of the Dave Tyler Junior Player of the Year Award in 2008, Connolly will continue his hockey career in the Swedish Elite League for Farjestad BK, in 2012-13.
An ambassador to the special sports world, Ron Hermansen has displayed his commitment to help Minnesota Special Hockey grow through his efforts to promote the game and his constant demonstration of sportsmanship, hard work and determination. Hermansen, who has a developmental disability, had an immediate impact on Minnesota Special Hockey when he joined in the fall of 2008. He has coordinated fundraisers and traveled the state to speak at major events to help the organization gain exposure. A selfless player on the ice, Hermansen prides himself in making the extra pass to give his teammates an opportunity to shine. He also takes the time to work with the younger skaters in the program who are still learning the game – even if they are not on his team. Off the ice, Hermansen has worked to recruit players for Minnesota Special Hockey. For his committment to special sports, Hermansen was named the 2007 Minnesota Special Olympics Athlete of the Year.
Currently the north vice president of the Minnesota Hockey Officials Association, Bruce “Buzz” Olson has been a registered official with USA Hockey for more than 30 years and has coached various sports, including hockey, for more than four decades. Olson played college hockey at Bemidji State University (1965-69) and helped the team to a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics national championship in 1968. After graduating, Olson served as the head coach of the East Grand Forks (Minn.) High School hockey team for seven years, along with coaching football for 36 years and track and field for 27 seasons. In addition to coaching, Olson has officiated more than 1,000 games. He wore the stripes for the Minnesota State High School League until 2009 and officiated in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association from 1982-1992. He has also worked some of the biggest youth contests in the country, including the Minnesota State High School League Hockey Tournament, the North Dakota State High School State Tournament and the USA Hockey National Bantam Tournament.