BUFFALO, NY - Brendon Kearney (Northville, MI) a senior forward at The Ohio State University, has been named the recipient of the 2019 Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award, which was announced tonight by the Hockey Commissioners Association (HCA) at the Frozen Four in Buffalo.
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.
Kearney played in 137 games in his Buckeye career, amassing 19 goals and 29 assists for 48 points. Of all his on-ice stats, perhaps the most impressive was the fact in those 137 games, he was only called for minor penalties 15 times.
Off the ice, Kearney was even more impressive. He was a four-time Ohio State Scholar Athlete and a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree. He has been accepted into Ohio State's graduate program for accounting and with finance and accounting degrees, he has prepared himself for life after hockey.
"Brendon is an outstanding choice for the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award," said OSU head coach Steve Rohlik. "He is the ultimate team player. As a coach you know exactly what you will get from him every time he steps on the ice. His passion, work ethic and team attitude are what you need for a team to be successful. He played a major role in the recent success of our program as part of a senior class that went to three NCAA tournaments and won our first Big Ten title. He is just as committed to his academics as a finance major graduating this spring. We appreciate the many hours he spent volunteering and representing our program with so many different groups."
A fan favorite in Columbus, Kearney was voted his team's "Unsung Hero" a year ago. Said teammate Ronnie Hein, "Kearney's a great leader and teammate on and off the ice. He's always doing the little things outside the rink, like 'Kearney's Corner' (a video series he began as a sophomore) and community service and it just translates into his on-ice play by doing the little things that matter but don't always get noticed."
Though he doesn't have gaudy offensive statistics over his playing career, Kearney was an integral part of Ohio State's success over the past four years. An outstanding penalty killer, Kearney led a unit that was consistently at or near the top of the Big Ten.
Once, when asked if we was more proud of his points or blocked shots, he answered, "Blocked shots. It gets the team excited and shows you are willing to put your body on the line to get the win."
The other finalists for this year's award were Avni Berisha, SR, D, UMass Lowell (Hockey East); Ian Edmondson, SR, D, Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey); Jon Lizzotte, SR, D, St. Cloud State (NCHC); Collin Saccoman, SO, D, Lake Superior State (WCHA).
The Hockey Commissioners Association coordinates the honor. Each of the six hockey conferences nominates a player to a national ballot. From there, conference media directors 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
2017 - Aidan Cavallini, SR. Forward, University of Wisconsin
2018 - Dylan Abood, SR, Defenseman, U.S. Air Force Academy
2019 - Brendon Kearney, SR, Forward, The Ohio State University