Players Vote For Recipients of PHPA Best Defensive Defenseman Award

Author: Darryl Dionne, PHPA Director of Communications and Business Development
Date: Jun 26, 2017

(Niagara Falls, ON) The Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016-17 PHPA Best Defensive Defenseman Award as voted by the player Membership of the PHPA.

The PHPA Best Defensive Defenseman Award is presented to one defenseman from the American Hockey League’s Eastern and Western Conferences and one defenseman from the ECHL’s Eastern and Western Conferences, whose offensive output or statistics may not necessarily reflect the significance of his consistent defensive contributions to the team.


ECHL Eastern Conference: Eric Knodel, Cincinnati Cyclones

The 6’6, 225 pound defenseman played 58 games this season with Cincinnati, contributing 28 points, including 8 goals and 20 assists, with a +7 rating at seasons end.  The 26-year-old from West Chester, Pennsylvania was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2009, and played at the University of New Hampshire for 3 years before embarking on his pro career which has also included stops in Orlando and Utah of the ECHL, and Toronto and San Diego in the AHL.

“Defensive play is definitely something I put a lot of emphasis on,” said Knodel.  “I try to play a full ice game.  I’ve been given the opportunity to show what I can do in a really competitive league, so I play hard every day and put effort into doing the little things and playing a consistent game. It’s nice to see those efforts don’t go unnoticed.”


ECHL Western Conference: Joel Chouinard, Allen Americans

In 72 games this season, Joel Chouinard scored 10 goals and added 34 assists for the highest point total of his professional career.  He also led the ECHL with an incredible +47 rating, helping the Allen Americans to a first place finish in the Mountain Division.  Born in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Chouinard was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2008 and has split the past seven seasons between the ECHL and AHL.

“This award is definitely unexpected, I’m flattered,” said Chouinard, “I’m not usually in the spotlight because I’ve never really been known for my offensive production which is what usually gets highlighted most in players.  I take pride in trying to do all the little things right each game like blocking shots, hard tough defense, getting your stick in the lanes to break up passes that sort of thing. I’m really glad to be recognized for the less flashy side of the game.  It’s tough work and nice to know it isn’t going unnoticed.”


AHL Eastern Conference: Andrew Campbell, Toronto Marlies

The Toronto Marlies Captain is now a two-time recipient of this award after registering a +20 rating this season and being +59 over the past two combined.  Campbell also added 6 goals and 16 assists for 22 points, and 62 penalty minutes in 75 games.  A third round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2008, Campbell made his NHL debut with the Kings on April 5th, 2014 after spending six full seasons with the Manchester Monarchs, and skated in 6 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2015-16 season.

“Anytime you receive an award that is based on a vote by your peers is the most special,” said Campbell, “It just goes to show you have the respect of not only your teammates but your competitors.”


AHL Western Conference: Vince LoVerde, Ontario Reign

After four years at Miami University, Vince LoVerde has split the past six seasons between the ECHL and AHL, capturing a Calder Cup Championship in 2016, and where he is now Captain of the Ontario Reign.  Although being awarded for his defensive achievements, 2016-17 was LoVerde’s best offensive year to date, recording 9 goals and 26 assists for 35 points in 61 games.

“It’s really cool that guys voted for me for this award, but there are a lot of guys out there that I would have voted for over myself,” said LoVerde. 

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