NORFOLK, VA - The Norfolk Admirals are proud to announce that center Mark Cullen has been named the American Hockey League's recipient of the 2005-06 Fred T. Hunt Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey. The award is voted on by players and members of the media in each of the league's 27 cities.
Cullen, a fourth-year pro from Moorhead, Minn., has persevered through numerous serious setbacks in his young career. In 2001, Cullen suffered a fractured vertebra on a hit from behind in a game during his junior year at Colorado College. As a rookie with the Houston Aeros in 2003, Cullen broke his ankle during the conference finals, forcing him to the sidelines while his teammates went on to capture the Calder Cup. Then, just prior to the 2003-04 season, Cullen was diagnosed with malignant melanoma - skin cancer - and had it and several surrounding lymph nodes surgically removed. He has been cancer-free for more than two years.
Currently in his first season in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Cullen has already had a banner year on the ice. He has posted 29 goals and 39 assists for 68 points for Norfolk, surpassing the previous franchise mark for points in a season. The 27-year old centerman became the first Admiral to collect two hat tricks in one season, with three goals at Bridgeport on December 18th and again at Binghamton on January 21st.
Cullen made his NHL debut on November 10th, scoring his first NHL goal in Chicago's victory over St. Louis. He now has seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in 24 games with the Blackhawks this season.
This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1978, honors the late Fred T. Hunt, a long-time contributor to the league who won three Calder Cup championships as a player and three more as a general manager. Previous winners of the award include Ross Yates (1983), Glenn Merkosky (1987, '91), Bruce Boudreau (1988), Murray Eaves ('89, '90), John Anderson (1992), Ken Gernander (1996, 2004), Steve Passmore (1997), Randy Cunneyworth (2000), Nathan Dempsey (2002), Eric Healey (2003) and Chris Taylor (2005).