The Messier Project and six-time Stanley Cup-winning captain Mark Messier are proud to recognize an up-and-coming hockey captain.
Forward Jack Prince, 21, of the Texas Tornado is the 2011-2012 recipient of The Messier Project Leadership Award for the North American Hockey League (NAHL). The Messier Project Leadership Award was established in 2010-11, and recognizes the NAHL player who best exemplifies strong leadership both on and off the ice.
Prince, a native of the United Kingdom, helped lead the Tornado back to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament this season as the team’s captain and leading scorer. The 6-foot-4 forward recorded 39 goals — second best in the NAHL — and 39 assists in 60 regular-season games in 2011-12, and ranked fourth in the league with 78 points.
Prince, who his completing his third season with the Tornado, became Texas’ all-time leader in points (188) and assists (100) at then end of the 2011-12 campaign. Since joining the club, he has progressed impressively to become a complete player who will move on to Division I college hockey next season.
“Jack is not only our leading scorer, he’s developed into our best defensive player,” Tornado general manager and coach Tony Curtale said. “He has a great combination of skills, work ethic and character, and is a good-natured kid.”
Prince was presented with The Messier Project Leadership Award at the Banquet of Champions, the NAHL’s yearly awards ceremony, on Sunday, May 6 in Frisco, Texas. NAHL Commissioner Mark Frankenfeld was on hand for the presentation, which included a personal “captain-to-captain” video message to Prince from Mark Messier.
“Jack is a reminder to us all that with hard work, dedication and perseverance, you can overcome many hurdles and challenges along your journey,” Mark said. “He has demonstrated leadership qualities on and off the ice. His selfless attitude in the community was recognized by his peers and coaches, and appreciated by the fans. Congratulation, Jack!”
The Messier Project is the NAHL’s Official Helmet Supplier and outfits the league’s 26 teams in the revolutionary M11 helmet, which uses Seven Technology, an impact attenuation liner system that’s designed to more effectively manage energy transfer from direct impact. NAHL teams will transition to the new, next-generation M11 PRO helmet next seson.
With its three-year partnership, announced at the start of the 2010-11 season, the NAHL is among the more than 700 leagues, teams and associations across North America encouraging better head protection across all levels of the sport as part of The Messier Project.
Prince joined the Tornado in 2009 after completing two major midget seasons in the Detroit Little Caesar’s program. Curtale liked what he saw in Prince, although the forward needed to work on his skating and game.
Prince did, and has flourished in with the Tornado, which plays in the 6,000-seat Dr Pepper Arena in Frisco, a Dallas suburb.
“Jack came to the United States from Great Britain as an unpolished and inexperienced hockey player,” Curtale said. “He was big, but he was told he was slow.
“Now Jack is close to securing a NCAA Division I scholarship and embodies everything that is right about the NAHL player,” Curtale added. “He came to the league, grew as a player and person, developed his skill and his leadership qualities to finish as one of the most prolific scorers in NAHL history and one of the great captains and leaders in the 12-year history of the Texas Tornado.”
Curtale praises Prince as an on-ice leader who can dominate thanks to being strong on his skates, protecting the puck, seeing the ice well, and having a powerful shot. In 2011-12, Prince earned ample ice time in even-strength, power-play and short-handed situations as one of the NAHL’s top stars.
“Jack not only let his play lead his team, but he led with his composure,” Curtale said “He plays the game with a respect for his opponents, totaling just 87 penalty minutes in three seasons.
“He’s a leader who cares about his team and what a captain is all about,” Curtale added. “During the last couple of years he has been a big part of our wins, although not everything he does stands out as being visible.”
Prince’s achievements are especially impressive considering he had limited ice time in England until he came to the U.S. at age 13 to play for a bantam program in Chicago.
Off the ice, Prince has been an enthusiastic ambassador for the Tornado organization’s community outreach by speaking to kids at schools and visiting young patients in hospitals. Prince even helped out at the Tornado’s offices as the team prepared to host the 2012 Robertson Cup at the Dr Pepper Arena.
“And he never misses an opportunity to talk to fans, making sure every autograph is signed and every hand is shaken before leaving the arena,” Curtale said.
The NAHL, the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II Junior A league. boasting 26 teams from across North America, prides itself on the social maturity and skill development of student-athletes ages 16-20 with aspirations of advancing to collegiate and/or professional hockey. For more information on the NAHL, visit www.NAHL.com