Middlebury’s Tom Maldonado Wins Eighth Annual Joe Concannon Award

Gridiron Club of Greater Boston president Al Robichaud announced Thursday that senior defenseman Tom Maldonado of Middlebury is the winner of the eighth annual Joe Concannon Award, which recognizes New England’s best American-born hockey player at the Division II-III level.

Maldonado, a native of the Bronx, N.Y., finished his career at Middlebury with an outstanding season, leading the Panthers in scoring with nine goals and eighteen assists for twenty-seven points. During his senior season the durable defenseman passed both the 100 games played plateau as well as the 100 career point mark. He was team captain and a first team NESCAC All-Star selection.

Middlebury head coach Bill Beaney noted, “Tom has been a mainstay here offensively and defensively since the first day he stepped on campus. He has quarterbacked our power play since he was a freshman and has played in virtually every critical situation. He may be small for a defenseman at just 5-foot-8 tall but he has a big heart — he plays through injuries and has shown great puck savvy on the ice.”

Added Beaney, “Tommy has displayed great character. You don’t see many hockey players coming out of the Bronx. He has been a great leader and is a strongly committed kid to the program. But as good as he is as a player, he is a better person. Tom has reached out to the community and has become a mentor to local kids in helping them with goal-setting and striving for success.

“This is a special award and achievement for Tom and the school. Having known Joe Concannon, I think he would be proud of what Tom Maldonado brings as a recipient of the award bearing his name.”

A very strong field of finalist candidates vied with Maldonado for the Concannon Award. They included senior forwards T. J. Kelley and Josh Reber from Colby; senior forward John Geverd from Babson College; and senior forward Matt McGilvray from Johnson & Wales University.

Kelley, from Ridgefield, Conn., led the Mules to the NESCAC regular season title and finished the season with nineteen goals and twenty-four assists for forty-three points. For his career, T.J. had fifty-six goals and seventy assists for 126 points while playing 92 games. He was voted a first Team All-NESCAC and won the league’s Player of the Year award this past season.

Reber, from Edina, Minn., was a true impact player for the Mules, finishing his senior year with ten goals and twenty-five assists for thirty-five points in just twenty games played. The ultimate set-up man, Reber finished his career with ninety-nine assists along with thirty-four goals and 133 total points and was a first team All-Star in the NESCAC.

Geverd, from Hooksett, N.H., was a two-year captain for coach Jamie Rice’s Beavers. He finished the season with eleven goals and five assists for sixteen points but added invaluable minutes in playing key defensive match-ups against opposing teams’ most dynamic offensive players. John finished his career with 109 games played and almost ninety points. During the 2006-2007 season, he captained Babson to its first league championship in twenty years.

McGilvray, from Rochester, N.H., was co-captain at JWU and led the Wildcats in scoring with twenty-eight goals and twenty assists for forty-eight points in just twenty-five games. Matt was named as a First Team all-Star in the ECAC Northeast and shared Player of the Year honors with Curry’s Jeffrey Hazelwood, a Concannon Award semi-finalist.

“This year has been an extraordinary season of competitive hockey at the Division II and III levels in New England,” noted committee chairman Tim Costello. “Each and every one of our nominees had terrific seasons; the five finalists from our very talented field truly distinguished themselves. They were leaders on campus as well as on the ice. Tom Maldonado demonstrated great hockey skills as well as leadership and sportsmanship. He certainly earned his place among the group of distinguished winners of the Concannon Award.”

The 2008 Joe Concannon Award will be presented at the New England Hockey Writers’ Dinner on Wednesday, April 16. Last year’s winner was Greg Osborne from Colby and Stoughton, Mass.

The Gridiron Club established the Joe Concannon Award in 2001 to honor Joe, a lifelong devotee of college hockey, former member of the Walter Brown Award Selection Committee and, as a journalist, a staunch advocate for the amateur athletes he knew and covered. A native of Litchfield, Connecticut, Joe graduated from Boston University in 1961. He served as sports information director (SID) at Holy Cross before joining the Boston Globe in the late 1960’s to cover college sports.

Joe declined frequent invitations by his editors to write about Boston’s major professional sports teams, preferring to concentrate on the colleges, distance running and golf. He wrote the book Marathoning with Bill Rodgers and established the highly successful Litchfield Road Race in his hometown. Joe was a world traveler and was especially proud of his Irish heritage, frequently sojourning to the Emerald Isle. He passed away in 2000.

Founded in 1932, the Gridiron Club’s mission is to promote and nurture the ideals of citizenship, sportsmanship, leadership, and athletic and academic achievement. Through its annual dinners and golf tournament the club raises funds for worthy causes and carries on the tradition of honoring exemplary players, coaches and officials at all levels of sport. The Bulger Lowe Award, established in 1939 and awarded to New England’s best college football player, is the second oldest honor of its kind in American sport after the Heisman Trophy. The Nils V. “Swede” Nelson Award, inaugurated in 1946, honors college football players who also distinguish themselves in the classroom. The club assumed responsibility for the Walter Brown Award, the nation’s oldest college hockey honor, in 1977.