CEDAR RAPIDS — With all of the injuries he dealt with this hockey season, it would have been easy for Marc McLaughlin to sit and sulk. Instead he got even more active.
Despite playing in only 21 games, the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders forward took his captain’s duties seriously, leading his club without being on the ice and getting into the community for several appearances. His high character was rewarded Tuesday when the United States Hockey League announced it has named him the 2018 recipient of its Curt Hammer Award.
The award is named after the late former president of the Des Moines Buccaneers and secretary of the USHL. It has been presented annually since the 1988-89 to “the USHL player who distinguishes himself both on and off the ice by demonstrating outstanding performance skills, leadership, pride and determination.”
“Such a meaningful award,” McLaughlin said. “I loved being a part of the Cedar Rapids community. I was more than happy to give back to a community that showed such passion and support for our team.”
“Marc was present at every game, practice, weightlifting session and team community service event. He also took part individually or with teammates in various community service events each week, despite the injuries,” said RoughRider Head Coach and General Manager Mark Carlson. “There have been very few individuals during my 19 years in Cedar Rapids that have shown such consistent leadership on a daily basis. Marc persevered through his injuries to provide passionate leadership to his team every day, even though he couldn’t play.”
McLaughin suffered a shoulder injury in the preseason, which kept him out of the lineup the first month of the regular season. Then it was a concussion in November and a high-ankle sprain after that.
He still is not able to skate. The 18-year-old from North Billerica, Mass., will begin his college career this coming fall at Boston College.
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He is the second Curt Hammer Award winner, following defenseman Riese Zmolek, who shared the award last year.
“Since I was a little kid, I’ve always hade a pretty positive mindset,” he said. “That’s probably due to my parents. I think my teammates picked me up a lot when I was feeling down. I figured I might as well make the most of what I had going on. I should (still) provide my leadership and my experience as much as I can. Tyy to do my part, even though I’m not on the ice, to help the team win.”
“His presence was felt in the dressing room, on the ice, on the bus and in the Cedar Rapids community at all times,” Carlson said. “Marc personified what it meant to be a captain, to lead and to inspire.”
The RoughRiders said McLaughlin and his teammates volunteered regularly with Special Olympics athletes, assisted local veterans weekly at the Freedom Foundation and mentored local elementary school students. McLaughlin spoke on behalf of the team when it delivered cookies to local police and firefighters as a thank you from the team’s booster club and wrote and delivered an on-ice speech when the RoughRiders announced they had raised $3,000 for the Humboldt Broncos, the Canadian junior team that had several members killed last month in a bus accident.
The USHL also announced Tuesday its All-Rookie Team, which included RoughRiders defenseman Tyler Jubenvill. The Bemidji State signee had five goals and 19 points in 58 games this season.
The remainder of the team is forwards Matej Pekar (Muskegon), Robert Mastrosimone (Chicago), Paul Cotter (Lincoln), defenseman Michael Callahan (Youngstown) and goaltender Oskar Autio (Chicago).
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