HERSHEY, Pa. – The HERSHEY BEARS are proud to announce that right wing Joel Rechlicz has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the HERSHEY community during the 2011-12 season. The announcement was made by BEARS President/GM Doug Yingst.
Known widely as an enforcer on the ice, a protector of teammates and a cheerleader when he isn’t on an active shift, Rechlicz carries an infectious laugh and outgoing demeanor the moment his job is over. Throughout the 2011-12 season, Rechlicz went above and beyond what is expected of players and spent an average of two days per week making visits around HERSHEY and the surrounding central Pennsylvania communities.
After beginning this season visiting schools during the BEARS Care Reading Program, he went on to help distribute stuffed toys that were collected from the team’s annual Teddy Bear Toss Game, played in front of a crowd of 10,238 on December 3rd against the Portland Pirates. As many toys were collected from the ice after the BEARS’ first goal as there were fans in attendance, and Rechlicz helped ensure that some made their way to some of the Harrisburg area’s children in need. Since such toys were not allowed to be given directly to ill children at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital, Rechlicz worked with teammates Keith Aucoin, Chris Bourque, Boyd Kane and Graham Mink to purchase gifts and give the children happiness as Christmas approached.
Occasionally working with other teammates, Rechlicz spent several off-days on Monday evenings during the season at HERSHEY Junior BEARS on-ice clinics, encouraging the youngsters that the only fights they should have on the ice is in their work at being the best player they can.
With community visits winding down as the trade deadline approached and with several injuries preventing some players from fulfilling their offers of time, Rechlicz stepped up without question to substitute. He wrapped up his busy season by serving as one of three guest speakers at the Junior BEARS’ End-of-Season Banquet, held at the HERSHEY Lodge just two weeks ago. Rechlicz signed photos and sticks, and took pictures with every person who came up to him and stayed until the final guest table emptied.
Rechlicz is now one of 30 finalists for the AHL’s 2011-12 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former HERSHEY BEARS forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League in the coming weeks.