OHL Announces 2021-2022 Academic Player of the Year Winners

Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the recipients of the League’s three Academic Player of the Year awards for the 2021-22 season.

Owen Beck of the Mississauga Steelheads is the winner of the Bobby Smith Trophy as Scholastic Player of the Year presented by CIBC, Adam Varga of the Ottawa 67’s has earned the Roger Neilson Memorial Award as the Top Post-Secondary School Student for a second straight year, and Owen Sound Attack defenceman Cal Uens has been recognized as the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award recipient as OHL’s Top High School Student.

Beck will serve as the OHL’s nomination for the CHL Scholastic Player of the Year Award.

Bobby Smith Trophy (CIBC Scholastic Player of the Year) – Owen Beck (Mississauga Steelheads:

Draft eligible forward Owen Beck of the Mississauga Steelheads is the 2021-22 recipient of the Bobby Smith Trophy awarded to the OHL’s Scholastic Player of the Year presented by CIBC.

Beck is the latest Steelheads player to earn academic recognition from a program that has produced recent Bobby Smith Trophy winners in Thomas Harley (2019) and Nicolas Hague (2016). The 18-year-old centreman has been busy in the classroom, carrying a heavy course load that includes Advanced Functions (96%), University Chemistry (93%), Kinesiology (94%), Calculus (91%) and University Biology (93%), resulting in an overall average of over 93% in his Grade 12 studies at Philip Pocock Catholic Secondary School. On the ice, Beck came in as the 10th ranked North American skater on NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings for the 2022 NHL Draft following a rookie season that yielded 21 goals, 30 assists and 51 points in 68 games for the Steelheads.

“Education has always been important to me throughout my hockey career,” said Beck. “Being able to balance two busy activities has given me life skills and characteristics that I will use for the rest of my life. On top of that, as much as every hockey player wants to make a career out of hockey, not everybody always can for reasons beyond the person’s control. I have worked very hard over the past several years to make sure I have put myself in a position where if hockey unfortunately doesn’t work out I have a solid education and many opportunities available to move forward with another career.”

A native of Port Hope, Ont., Beck emerged as one of the OHL’s premier presences in the faceoff circle, winning 60.6% of his draws. He was voted the Eastern Conference’s top face-off man in the OHL Coaches Poll. Following an impressive season that included being named the OHL’s Rookie of the Month in November, Beck helped the Steelheads reach the second round of the OHL Playoffs, recording six points (1-5–6) in 10 games. He was Mississauga’s second round (29th overall) pick in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection.

“The Mississauga Steelheads would like to congratulate Owen Beck for being named this year’s Bobby Smith Trophy recipient,” said Steelheads Head Coach and General Manager James Richmond. “The entire organization is so proud of Owen for everything we all see every game on the ice but even more so for what he does in the classroom. This is a huge accomplishment! Owen’s commitment and dedication both in the classroom and on the ice is exceptional and he’s a very deserving recipient of this prestigious award.”

Each year the Bobby Smith Trophy is presented to the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year who best combines high standards of play and academic excellence.  The trophy is in honour of Bobby Smith, a former Ottawa 67’s star who exhibited a standard of excellence in both of these areas.  Past recipients since the award was first presented in 1980 include three-time winner Dustin Brown (Guelph 2001-03), Steven Stamkos (Sarnia 2007), Ryan Ellis (Windsor 2008), Matt Duchene (Brampton 2009), Erik Gudbranson (Kingston 2010), Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2011), Adam Pelech (Erie 2012), Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie 2013), back-to-back winner Connor McDavid (Erie 2014, ’15), Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 2017), Barrett Hayton (Sault Ste. Marie 2018), Thomas Harley (Mississauga 2019) and Cole Perfetti (Saginaw 2020).

Next in line for the award were a pair of other draft eligibles in forward Matthew Poitras of the Guelph Storm and top-ranked prospect Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs.

Roger Neilson Memorial Award (Top Post-Secondary Student) – Adam Varga (Ottawa 67’s):

For the second straight year, Ottawa 67’s forward Adam Varga is the recipient of the Roger Neilson Memorial Award presented annually to the League’s Top Academic Post-Secondary Student.

Varga managed to exceed his 2020-21 benchmark of a 94% average, achieving a 95.8% mark over seven courses at the University of Maryland, excelling in Human Resources Management (100%), Technology and Culture (98%), Philosophy (98%), Biology (98%), Psychology (95%), Information Systems and Organizations (94%) and Integrated Market Communications (88%).

Varga joins former Mississauga Steelheads teammate Stephen Gibson (2017 & ’18), Windsor Spitfires graduate Derek Lanoue (2010 & ’11) and past 67’s netminder Danny Battochio (2005 & ’06) as the fourth back-to-back winner in League history.

“I am honoured to receive the Roger Neilson Memorial Award for the second time,” said Varga. “At a young age, my family instilled in me the importance of continuing my education. The OHL has allowed me to do just that. I would not be able to achieve this honour without the resources provided to me by the Ottawa 67’s organization. I want to thank the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, James Boyd, Jan Egert, and Eileen Duffin for the remarkable support they have given me to succeed. Coach Dave Cameron has also had a tremendous influence on me. From day one, he preached the importance of hard work and dedication. Not just on the ice but in everything I do.”

A 20-year-old native of Bel Air, Maryland, Varga recorded four goals, 11 assists and 15 points in 40 games with the 67’s in his overage season. The 6-foot-1, 181Ib. right-winger appeared in 205 career regular season contests between Ottawa and Mississauga, recording 18 goals, 30 assists and 48 points in the process. He was originally Mississauga’s seventh round (121st overall) pick in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection.

“Adam’s strong leadership skills are evident both on the ice and in his approach to academics,” said 67’s General Manager James Boyd. “He has once again proven to be a diligent student athlete with excellent time management skills. What stands out most during his time with the 67’s is Adam’s relentless work ethic and perseverance towards every task that he dedicates his time to. We congratulate Adam and are all excited to follow and support him in the next phase of his career.”

The Roger Neilson Memorial Award is named in honour of the Hall of Fame Coach who served behind the Peterborough Petes bench in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Neilson, a former high school teacher, was a pioneer in stressing the importance of education to all of his players. Varga is the third different 67’s player to receive the honour following back-to-back recipient Danny Battochio (2005, 2006) while joining Sasha Chmelevski (2019) as the second American-born player to have his name engraved on the trophy.

Finalists for the Roger Neilson Memorial Award include defencemen Luc Brzustowski of the Soo Greyhounds and Ryan Mast of the Sarnia Sting.

Ivan Tennant Memorial Award (Top Academic High School Student) – Cal Uens (Owen Sound Attack):

Owen Sound Attack defenceman Cal Uens is the 2021-22 recipient of the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award presented annually to the League’s Top Academic High School Student.

Uens achieved a 98.7% average in studies at Owen Sound District Secondary School, excelling in Business Leadership (100%), a pair of English courses (98%, 99%) and Challenge and Change in Society (98%). His impressive work ethic has resulted in him accumulating enough credits to graduate Grade 12 a year early, enabling him to begin taking University courses next season.

“It’s an honour to win the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award,” said Uens. “I would like to thank academic advisor Sarah Rowe and the Attack organization for giving me the best opportunities to be successful both on and off the ice.”

A 17-year-old native of Napanee, Ont., Uens recorded four goals, 14 assists and 18 points over 68 games in his rookie season on the Attack blue line. The 5-foot-8, 152Ib. defender was Owen Sound’s third round (42nd overall) choice in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection. He will be eligible for the NHL Draft in 2023.

“The Attack organization would like to congratulate Cal Uens on being named the recipient of this year‘s Ivan Tennant Memorial Award,” said Attack General Manager Dale DeGray. “Cal has been an incredibly dedicated individual both on and off the ice. Contributing in all 68 games this season and at the same time will finish with enough credits to graduate Grade 12 a year early. This in itself without the added commitment of playing in the OHL would be a tremendous feat. It is great to see that Cal’s drive in the classroom has been rewarded.”

The Ivan Tennant Memorial Award is given to the League’s Top Academic High School Player and is named in honour of Ivan Tennant, who spent a lifetime combining hockey and education. He was the Kitchener Rangers’ Education Consultant for 20 years and a key figure on the OHL’s Education Consultant’s Committee. Uens follows other recent Attack recipients in Logan LeSage (2020) and Mack Guzda (2018 & ’19). Hamilton Bulldogs forward Lawson Sherk claimed the award in 2021.

Finalists for the award included rookies Sam Alfano of the Peterborough Petes and Matthew Poitras of the Guelph Storm.

About the Ontario Hockey League
The Ontario Hockey League is a proud member of the Canadian Hockey League which is the world’s largest development hockey league with 60 teams in nine Canadian provinces and four American states. In addition to the OHL, the CHL is made up of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the Western Hockey League. The CHL supplies more players to the National Hockey League and U SPORTS than any other league.



Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Cooper Way of the Oshawa Generals, Pano Fimis of the Niagara IceDogs, Trent Swick of the Kitchener Rangers and Ryan Mast of the Sarnia Sting have been named Academic Players of the Month for January.

Though the puck has yet to drop on the 2020-21 OHL Regular Season, players are striving for excellence in the classroom through their studies. The League continues to work with government and public health agencies to prepare a safe return to play. Academic players of the month are listed in correspondence with their 2019-20 divisions. Details concerning the structure of 2020-21 team alignment will be made available upon release of the OHL Regular Season schedule.

Here’s a look at the OHL’s Academic Players of the Month for January:

East Division: Cooper Way of the Oshawa Generals is being recognized as January’s East Division Academic Player of the Month. He holds a 92% grade in Biology, 98% in Chemistry, 99% in Calculus and an 86% in English for an overall average of 94% in Grade 12 studies at Maxwell Heights Secondary School and St. David Catholic Secondary School.

“Cooper has shown an incredible focus and work ethic,” noted team academic advisor Tom Buchanan. “Cooper has demonstrated his determination as he strives for goals in both academics and hockey.”

Way suited up for one game with the Generals last season. The 17-year-old Waterloo, Ont. native was a fourth round pick of the Generals in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection out of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Elmira Sugar Kings where he put up 25 points (8-17—25) over 46 games during the 2019-20 campaign.

Central Division: Niagara’s Pano Fimis is January’s Central Division Academic Player of the Month. He boasts a 91% in Chemistry, a 92% in Math and a 90% in Financial Accounting in Grade 11 studies at Governor Simcoe Secondary School.

Fimis is described as a leader among his peers with a commitment to his studies that will serve him well in the future. “Pano exemplifies all that we look for in a student-athlete. He has made the best of this difficult situation we find ourselves in and has worked extremely hard, according to his teachers,” wrote IceDogs academic advisor Tim Tope.

Fimis was chosen second overall in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection by the IceDogs following a 104-point season where he captained the Toronto Jr. Canadiens to a GTHL U16 Championship. The 16-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont. was named GTHL Minor Midget Player of the Year and represented Canada at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he captured bronze.

Midwest Division: Trent Swick of the Kitchener Rangers has been named Midwest Division Academic Player of the Month for January. At St. Francis Catholic Secondary School, he achieved an 87% grade in English, an 87% in Introduction to Anthropology, Psychology and Sociology, and a 94% in Chemistry. He currently holds a 90% mark in Religion as well.

“Trent is to be commended for his consistent academic focus and attention to detail during this very unusual and challenging school year,” wrote academic advisor Dave Tennant. “It takes a great deal of dedication and perseverance to achieve the success he has, and I wish him all the best in continuing his studies.”

Rangers head coach and general manager Mike McKenzie added: “It is great to see Trent has used his time wisely and kept up with his studies over the course of the year. One of the reasons we were excited to draft Trent last year was his work ethic on and off the ice and this award recognizes that off-ice work ethic.”

The 16-year-old Thorold, Ont. native was drafted in the third round of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection after a 55-point season with the Southern Tier Admirals.

West Division: Sarnia Sting defenceman Ryan Mast is the West Division’s Academic Player of the Month for January. Mast carries an impressive 92% average across six Grade 12 courses at Bloomfield Hills High School. His report card includes high standing in Calculus (92%), Advanced Composition – English (90%), Physics (82%), Psychology (94%), Business Ethics (95%) and Accounting (97%).

Mast has been praised for his exemplary time management skills and self-motivation towards his studies as well as his ability to balance his off-ice training routine with his daily school expectations.

The 18-year-old defender put up 11 points (1-10—11) over his 58-game rookie season with the Sting. A native of Bloomfield, Mich., Mast was a ninth round pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection out of the Detroit Compuware AAA Program.

2020-21 OHL Academic Players of the Month:

East Division:
January – Cooper Way (Oshawa Generals)
December – Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs)
November – Lawson Sherk (Hamilton Bulldogs)

Central Division:
January – Pano Fimis (Niagara IceDogs)
December – Tnias Mathurin (North Bay Battalion)
November – Hunter Haight (Barrie Colts)

Midwest Division:
January – Trent Swick (Kitchener Rangers)
December – Eric Uba (Guelph Storm)
November – Connor Lockhart (Erie Otters)

West Division:
January – Ryan Mast (Sarnia Sting)
December – Davis “T-Bone” Codd (Saginaw Spirit)
November – Gavin Hayes (Flint Firebirds)

A total of 334 graduates utilized their OHL Scholarship at post-secondary institutions across North America during the 2019-20 academic year, with a total contribution by teams of over $3 million.  Over the past 10 seasons, OHL Scholarship payments have totalled more than $25 million.

Click here for more information about ‘OHL Players First’ programs.


Academic players for November

Toronto, Ont. – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Lleyton Moore of the Oshawa Generals, Jonah De Simone of the Niagara IceDogs, Michael Vukojevic of the Kitchener Rangers and Ryan Mast of the Sarnia Sting have been named the OHL Academic Players of the Month for November.

East Division: Oshawa Generals sophomore blueliner Lleyton Moore has been named the OHL East Division Academic Player of the Month for November. The grade 12 student holds an impressive 85% average at Maxwell Heights Secondary School where he is taking law and international business classes.

Moore’s teachers describe him as a strong, conscientious student. “He is organized and on task,” said Tom Buchanan, Moore’s academic advisor. “Lleyton is an outstanding role model and a leader amongst his peers both on and off the ice.”

A 17-year-old native of Woodbridge, Ont., Moore has 12 points (1-11–12) over 25 contests with the Generals this season. The 5-foot-8, 170Ib. defenceman was originally selected by the Niagara IceDogs with the 12th overall pick of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.

Central Division: Niagara IceDogs second-year forward Jonah De Simone is the OHL Central Division Academic Player of the Month for November. De Simone holds an 87% average in his grade 12 university prep courses at Governor Simcoe Secondary School.

“Jonah is a fantastic role model for many of the younger high school-aged players,” said IceDogs academic advisor Tim Tope. “His commitment to his studies will undoubtedly serve him well in the future.”

The 17-year-old winger from Richmond Hill, Ont. has recorded seven points (3-4–7) over 27 games with the IceDogs this season after being the club’s fourth round (70th overall) pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.

Midwest Division: New Jersey Devils prospect Michael Vukojevic has earned the title of OHL Midwest Division Academic Player of the Month for November. Following his first few months studying psychology and sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University, Vukojevic is described as an energetic, thoughtful student and has received praise for his ability to ‘take suggestions and run with them’ in different situations.

“Michael has a strong ability to balance his hockey and educational career with a positive attitude,” said Dave Tennant, the Rangers’ academic advisor. “He excels not only in the classroom but helping to teach and guide in the community by joining the Rangers on various community initiatives.”

An 18-year-old native of Oakville, Ont., Vukojevic has nine points (2-7–9) through 24 games in his third OHL season. The 6-foot-3, 210Ib. defenceman was a third round (82nd overall) pick of the New Jersey Devils this past summer after recording 29 points (3-26–29) over 68 games with the Rangers in 2018-19.

Vukojevic suited up for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Hockey Championship where he registered two assists in seven games. He was one of four recipients of the Rangers’ Academic Achievement Award at the end of last season.

West Division: Sarnia Sting rookie defenceman Ryan Mast has been named the OHL West Division Academic Player of the Month for November. He maintains an 80% average at Northern Collegiate/Blyth Academy in his grade 11 university english and environmental science classes, as well as his grade 12 university functions class.

“Ryan’s academic achievement is a direct reflection of his work ethic and commitment to being the best student athlete that he can be,” said Sting academic advisor Mark Scott. “Ryan is a leader in the classroom and is a great example for his teammates.”

A 16-year-old native of Bloomfield, Mich., Mast has seven assists through his first 26 games of the season. The 6-foot-4, 200Ib. defenceman was a ninth round (169th overall) pick of the Sting last spring from the Detroit Compuware U16 program.

2019-20 OHL Academic Players of the Month:

East Division:
November – Lleyton Moore (Oshawa Generals)
October – Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs)

Central Division:
November – Jonah De Simone (Niagara IceDogs)
October – Pacey Schlueting (North Bay Battalion)

Midwest Division:
November – Michael Vukojevic (Kitchener Rangers)
October – Zack Terry (Guelph Storm)

West Division:
November – Ryan Mast (Sarnia Sting)
October – Cole Perfetti (Saginaw Spirit)

Last season, the OHL Centrally Administered Scholarship Program facilitated scholarships for 340 OHL Alumni at 69 different academic institutions across North America with a total scholarship payment in excess of $3.2 million. Since the 2007-08 season, OHL Scholarship payments have totalled more than $25 million.

Click here for more information about ‘OHL Players First’ programs.