Lemirande earns NAHL award
LIVERPOOL, N.Y. Conor Lemirande won the prestigious Messier Project Leadership Award for the North American Hockey League.
The Janesville resident and Janesville Jets captain was recognized as the NAHL player who best exemplified strong leadership both on and off the ice for the 2012-13 season. The Messier Project is named after hockey icon Mark Messier—the only NHL player to captain two different teams to the Stanley Cup.
Lemirande's contributions on the ice and in the community set him apart from the other finalists. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward recorded 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) and 127 penalty minutes in 54 games during 2012-13, his second NAHL season and second with the Jets. He established himself as a selfless leader who never hesitated to stand up for his team and teammates.
"Conor is the player you hate to play against, but love to have on your team," Jets coach Joe Dibble said. "He's a big power forward who can skate, shoot and play physical. "He has been the leader of our team since day one. He's a very positive young man who leads by example with his work ethic on and off the ice."
NAHL players range in age from 16 to 20, and generally have more-structured and more-demanding personal schedules than most people their age. On top of his hockey responsibilities with the Jets, Lemirande averaged almost 15 hours of community service per month in Janesville during the 2012-13 NAHL campaign, and he has continued to work with causes in the area following the season.
"Conor completely embodies the spirit of The Messier Project Leadership Award," said Messier, who played on six Stanley Cup winning teams. "As a selfless player, Conor earned the respect of his teammates on the ice, but maybe more importantly, he has used the game of hockey as a vehicle to become a role model, and a wonderful contributing member of our society.
"I congratulate Conor for an outstanding season, and his efforts to lead off the ice for so many worthwhile causes."
Lemirande's community engagement includes:
-- Helping the Jets raise $4,000 for the Salvation Army, including ringing bells during the holiday season, to help families in the community.
-- Collecting toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots Program.
-- Raising funds and awareness for Janesville-based Mercy Health Systems' cancer awareness initiatives, including as part of a "Skaters as Waiters" benefit.
-- As part of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Lemirande was a "big brother" for the entire season and mentored youngster in sports, helped with homework and served as a role model.
-- Volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville, where he was a "lunch buddy" for elementary-age children.
"This is the type of player we want in Janesville," Dibble said of Lemirande. "We want great character, great work ethic and players who understand there is more to playing junior hockey than just going to the rink.
"Conor is a true example of that. He is a great face of our organization in and around the city of Janesville."
Prior to playing for the Jets, Lemirande spent two seasons with the Madison Capitols organization. In the 2010-11 season, Lemirande played for the Madison Capitols Under-18 Midget Major Team out of the Tier I Midwest Elite Hockey League (MWEHL). In 2009-10, Lemirande played for the Madison Capitols Under-16 Midget Minor Team.