The CCHA held their awards banquet last night at the Fox Theater in Detroit and four players from Michigan schools were honored among all the glitz and glamour.
Northern Michigan goalie Tuomas Tarkki was named Player of the Year, Lake Superior State forward Bo Cheesman won the Ilitch Humanitarian Award, NMU defenseman Nathan Oystrick took Best Defensive Defenseman honors and Michigan captain Eric Nystrom was pegged Best Defensive Forward.
Tarkki, who led the league with a 1.81 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage, backstopped the Wildcats to a team-best 38-point regular season. He is the seventh goaltender, the first European-born player, and the first player from Northern Michigan since Jeff Pyle in 1981, to be named CCHA Player of the Year.
The fifth annual Mike and Marian Ilitch Humanitarian Award winner, Cheesman was recognized for a wide variety of volunteer services, including three years of work with young cancer patients at Camp Quality in Petoskey.
Oystrick captained a Wildcats blueline corps that held opponents to a league-low 57 goals in 28 conference games.
Nystrom is the third consecutive U-M player to earn defensive forward honor after Dwight Helminen received it in 2004 and Jed Ortmeyer in 2003. Nystrom has a +18 plus/minus rating this season and has been a key to the Michigan penalty kill throughout the year. Nystrom also has one shorthanded goal this season and while honoring his defensive responsibilities, has contributed 14 goals and 16 assists for 30 points to rank sixth on the Wolverines.
Other award winners were: Nebraska-Omaha head coach Mike Kemp (Coach of the Year, 16-point and eight-place improvement from a year ago), Nebraska-Omaha forward Bill Thomas (Rookie of the Year with 19 goals and 45 points), Bowling Green goalie Jordan Sigalet (Terry Flanagan award - perseverance and dedication, announced he had multiple sclerosis mid-season) and Miami captain and Trenton native Andy Greene (Best Offensive Defenseman, 33 points good for fifth in the nation in D-man scoring).
Winners of the CCHA's individual awards were selected by the 12 head coaches in the CCHA based on their play in conference games, and coaches were not allowed to vote for players from their own team.