BOSTON, Mass. (March 14, 2001)...Ned Cully, president of the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston, announced today that Boston College senior Brian Gionta and University of New Hampshire senior Ty Conklin have been named co-winners of the 49th Walter Brown Award, given annually to New England's outstanding American-born college hockey player.
"This is only the third time in almost fifty years that the selection committee has seen fit to name co-winners," said Thomas Burke, Gridiron Club third vice president and committee chairman. "Ty and Brian are both outstanding young men who have consistently demonstrated the key personal characteristics that the committee must consider. These include sportsmanship, character, leadership and consistent contribution to the team's success over a period of years in addition to the obvious requirement of a high level of athletic ability and achievement.
"Both Ty and Brian served as captains of their respective teams this season. Their accomplishments during the year, both tangible and intangible, were the major reasons that both BC and UNH once again were ranked consistently among the nation's leaders. Brian did it with offense, Ty with defense."
Gionta, a right wing from Rochester, NY, is the 19th Boston College athlete to receive the Walter Brown Award. Conklin, a goaltender from Anchorage, AK, is the third player from New Hampshire to be chosen. Yale senior Jeff Hamilton of Englewood, Ohio also received strong support in the voting and finished third among the ten finalists.
Conklin backstopped the most effective team defense in Hockey East this past season. His 1.83 goals-against average, 548 saves, and .930 save percentage all led the conference. His 1.64 goals against average in the 1999 season still stands as the best single-year mark in league history. Conklin played three seasons in Durham after transferring from the University of Alaska-Anchorage and two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. He has set UNH career records for goals against average (2.18); games played (93); wins (57); and save percentage (.915).
"One outstanding thing about Ty is his humility," remarked coach Dick Umile. "He always deflects individual recognition away from himself and to the team defense. He has always put the team first."
Gionta was Hockey East's leading scorer and goal getter this season with 25 goals and ten assists in league play. He also led the circuit in game winning goals with five and shorthanded goals with four. He tallied five consecutive goals in the first period of BC's 7-2 win over Maine on January 27, a modern-day Division One record. He is also the all-time leading goal scorer in Boston College history with 121 to date. Going into the Hockey East semifinal playoffs at the Fleet Center, he ranked second in BC history for total career points at 229, ten behind 1991 Hobey Baker Award winner David Emma.
"Ever since he arrived here four years ago, Brian has been an inspiration to everyone," said BC coach Jerry York, who won the Walter Brown Award in 1967. "He is always upbeat, positive and enthusiastic, both for the game of hockey and about life in general. Out on the ice, he's very fast and tenacious, and he's got tremendous peripheral vision. He sees people when they're out in front of him, behind him, or off to the side. That's why he distributes the puck so well."
The 2001 Walter Brown Award will be presented to Conklin and Gionta at the New England Hockey Writers' Dinner on April 11 in Saugus, Massachusetts.
The Walter Brown Award
Commemorating the life and works of America's greatest sportsman, the Walter Brown Award is given annually to the outstanding American-born college hockey player in New England. The members of the 1933 World Champion U.S. National Team established the award at their 20th reunion in 1953. Criteria for the selection committee include leadership, character, sportsmanship, and ability. The Walter Brown Award is the oldest nationally recognized honor accorded to individual players in the sport of American college hockey. The Gridiron Club of Greater Boston has been the steward of the award since 1977.
About Walter A. Brown: Son of George V. Brown, the first president of the Boston Madison Square Garden Corporation and first Director of Athletics at Boston University, Walter Brown is the only man who belongs to both the U.S. Hockey and Basketball Halls of Fame. In 1997, he was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Brown began his career of promoting amateur and professional sports in the 1930's. He coached the Massachusetts Rangers, a team comprising largely Boston-area skaters representing the United States, to America's first World Amateur Championship in ice hockey. They defeated the Toronto Nationals 2-1 in overtime in the 1933 tournament championship game at Prague, Czechoslovakia. Brown later served as manager of the 1936 and 1948 U.S. Olympic Teams.
Though his first love was hockey, Walter Brown is best remembered as the owner of the first seven championship teams of the Boston Celtics basketball dynasty. He succeeded his father as general manager of the Boston Garden in 1937 and remained a fixture on Causeway Street and a leader of the Boston sporting, civic and business communities until his death in 1964. At the time of his death, he had just completed a term as president of the International Ice Hockey Federation and was president of the Celtics, the Boston Bruins, the Boston Garden, and the Boston Athletic Association. He was also a member of the United States Olympic Ice Hockey Committee and the Boards of Governors of the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League.
2001-2001 Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Officers: Edmund (Ned) Cully, President; Richard (Dick) Lawrence, First Vice President; Bernard A. (Bernie) Smith, Second Vice President; Thomas J. Burke, Third Vice President; Alfred L. Nardini, Secretary; Paul Costello, Treasurer
2002-2001 Walter Brown Award Selection Committee: Thomas Burke, Chairman; Paul Costello; Timothy Costello; Ned Cully; Kevin Fleming; Hon. Gordon Martin; Alfred Nardini, Secretary; William J. Stewart III; and Brian Sullivan.