Mar 15, 2012 9:49 PM by Jordan Mason
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Air Force senior defenseman Tim Kirby was named the Atlantic Hockey Association Player of Year and was one of four Falcons to earn Atlantic Hockey Association all-conference honors, as released tonight at the AHA Awards Banquet in Rochester, N.Y. Kirby was also named the AHA Defenseman of the Year and was a first-team all-conference selection. Kirby's defensive partner, senior Scott Mathis, was also a first-team selection. Junior forward Kyle De Laurell was a first-team selection while junior forward John Kruse was a second-team choice.
The three first-team selections tie as the most in school history. Kirby is the third Falcon to earn Player of the Year honors, joining forwards Eric Ehn in 2007 and Jacques Lamoureux in 2009. He is the second defenseman in the history of Atlantic Hockey to win Player of the Year honors, joining Quinnipiac's Reid Cashman in 2004-05. He is the second Falcon to earn Defenseman of the Year, joining Greg Flynn in 2009. Kirby was a unanimous choice for Player of the Year, Defenseman of the Year and first-team all-conference.
Kirby, from Austin, Minn., led all defensemen in AHA games only with 22 points and 11 goals. He was tied for third among all players with six power play goals and was 11th among all players in points. In all games, Kirby is tied for third in the nation in goals by a defenseman with 12 and is 16th in the nation in points by a defenseman with 27 (0.75 per game) (12-15-27). An assistant captain, he has scored in 21 games of the 36 games, tied as the most on the team. Twelve of his 15 assists this season were first assists. Kirby has earned all-conference three times as he was a first-team choice as a sophomore and third-team as a sophomore.
Mathis, from Crystal Lake, Ill., was third in the league in points by a defenseman with 18 in AHA games only. The team captain is tied for 30th in the nation in points by a defenseman in all games with 23 (7-16-23). Mathis tied his season high of two points five times this season and scored in 18 of the 36 games. Mathis was also a first-team selection as a junior.
De Laurell, from Mission Viejo, Calif., was second in the league with 30 points in AHA games only. He was second in the league in assists (18) and eighth in goals (12) in conference games. In all games, he led the team and was third in the conference with 37 points (15-22-37). He had a season high two goals four times and had a career high four points (2-2-4) vs. AIC in December. He scored a point in 21 of the 36 games, tied as the most on the team and had 11 multiple point games. The all-conference honor is the first of his career.
Kruse, from Eden Prairie, Minn., was third in the league in goals (14) and fifth in points (26) in league games only. He was second on the team in all games with 28 points (14-14-28). His 13 even-strength goals this season led the team. He had a season-high four points against Mercyhurst (2-2-4) in February and had eight multiple point games this season. The all-conference honor is the first of his career.
Air Force, the least penalized team in the nation, earned the league's team sportsmanship award.
Top-seeded Air Force faces fourth-seeded Mercyhurst in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals, Friday, March 16, at 4:05 p.m. at the Blue Cross Arena in Rochester, N.Y.