The Charlotte Checkers have recognized forward Kyle Hagel as their IOA/American Specialty Man of the Year for the 2014-15 season. The honor, which Hagel previously received from the Rockford IceHogs, Peoria Rivermen, Hamilton Bulldogs and Portland Pirates since becoming a full-time AHL player in 2010, recognizes the player from each team who makes the greatest commitment to charitable organizations and his community.
Hagel is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL’s 2014-15 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League later this month.
In addition to spending more hours at more of the Checkers’ scheduled school and community appearances than any of his teammates, Hagel also continued the successful “Stick to Reading” campaign he created and implemented in his previous AHL cities. On his own time, Hagel contacted the administration at McClintock Middle School in Charlotte, laid the groundwork for the program and encouraged teammates to join for scheduled appearances at the school.
Over the course of the season, Hagel, who paces the Checkers and ranks among the AHL leaders in penalty minutes and fighting majors, also remained involved in two endeavors he helped create earlier in his career: Shnarped, an app that directly connects hockey players with fans, and Hockey Players for Kids, a nonprofit organization made up of hockey players dedicated to improving the communities they live in.
In their four previous AHL seasons, the Checkers, who have won their conference’s Excellence in Community Service award twice during that time, have never produced a Dupre Award winner. Mike Murphy, Bobby Sanguinetti, Sean Dolan and Matt Marquardt were their previous nominees.
The Checkers' vice president of communications, Paul Branecky has been covering hockey in North Carolina since 2006, including five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.