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Thunderbirds Name Paul Thompson IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield Thunderbirds announced that Paul Thompson has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Springfield community during the 2019-20 season.

In his third season as a Thunderbird and his second as team captain, the New England native has continued to show his commitment to the community beyond the ice surface.

Before the 2019-20 season began, Thompson was a regular sight at a number of offseason functions, including the Thunderbirds’ Street Hockey Tournament, which was born following the untimely passing of a young local hockey player, Alex Blais, two summers ago. Thompson also gave back to the youth-hockey community of Western Mass., starting and running the Paul Thompson Hockey Camp out of MassConn United for beginning hockey players.

In November, in advance of the club’s second annual Hockey Fights Cancer Night, Thompson lent his hand to share a deeply personal story to aid a cause near and dear to his family — his cousin Angela’s cancer battle and #AngelasArmy initiative. Angela’s Army makes ‘care packages’ for patients undergoing cancer treatment, and was born out of Angela’s desire to assist other patients, providing comfort to them even as she was going through her own battle.

In addition to participating in a number of team events, one that shined through the most was during the holiday season. Along with teammates Ethan Prow, Rob O’Gara, and Tommy Cross, Thompson led a selfless journey to brighten the lives of a mother and two young children who suddenly had to endure the passing of their father just weeks before the Christmas holiday. The captain and his teammates spent hundreds of dollars on toys and essential items to make the family feel special during their most trying time.

Thompson is now one of 31 finalists for the AHL’s 2019-20 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 AHL at a later date.

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