Rockford, Ill.—The Rockford IceHogs are proud to announce that Jimmy Hayes has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Rockford community during the 2012-13 season.
Since beginning his professional hockey career in Rockford two seasons ago, Jimmy Hayes has been one of the leaders in the community for the IceHogs.
Through the IceHogs’ Adopt-A-School program, Hayes befriended the hearing impaired class at Lincoln Middle School. For the past two years, Hayes has made regular visits to the class, and eventually inspired the group of students to “sign” the national anthem at a recent IceHogs game. The class regularly sends him letters, including a congratulations card for his first career hat trick on March 9 and for his birthday.
From the first week he arrived in Rockford this season, when he volunteered to scoop ice cream with his teammates at Cold Stone Creamery for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to surprising an unsuspecting young fan last week to fulfill his wish to make a pizza with his favorite player, Hayes has been a positive role model for IceHogs fans during his time in Rockford.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation event was a part of the organization’s “World’s Largest Ice Cream Social” that took place at Cold Stone. Hayes joined his teammates in working behind the counter, scooping and serving ice cream and helping raise funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Last Thursday, April 4, Hayes received a letter from a 9-year-old fan, Alec, who mentioned that he thought it would be cool to make a pizza with his favorite player at his parent’s pizza restaurant. Hayes jumped at the chance and, that afternoon, surprised Alec and his brother by stopping by Anna’s Pizza in Winnebago, Ill., and made a pizza with them.
Even when he was recalled to the Chicago Blackhawks in March, his commitment to the community did not curtail as he volunteered at a youth hockey clinic in Chicago.
Other community events that Hayes has volunteered his time for include school reading nights, the IceHogs' sock drive to benefit homeless children, youth hockey practices and hospital visits.
Hayes is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL’s 2012-13 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 on April 18.