Thunderbirds Staff Honored With FHL Awards

Syracuse, NY – First Three Federal Hockey League Awards Announced.

The Federal Hockey League is proud to announce the first three recipients of the league’s regular season awards have been announced. The three honors given out by the league include Executive of the Year, Broadcaster of the Year, and The Founders Award.

The Executive of the Year award is given out to the individual or group whose efforts in their organization help to grow the brand of the FHL and raise the bar of competition and entertainment. The 2017-2018 regular season recipient of the award is Scott Brand, President and General Manager of the Carolina Thunderbirds. Under Brand’s direction the Thunderbirds broke the Federal Hockey League’s single season attendance record in the teams first ever season. Brand, a native of Lansing, Michigan, has been involved with hockey for the last 45 years. He began as an on-ice official for 8 years in the United Hockey League, International Hockey League, and East Coast Hockey League. He would leave the ice and serve as Vice-President and General Manager of the Waterloo Blackhawks in the United States Hockey League, where he set record-breaking attendance records. He would also lead the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL and increase their attendance two seasons in a row. He would spend the next 14 seasons as the head of USA Hockey’s Director of Hockey Operations and was honored with the USHL’s Distinguished Service Award and in 2012 he was inducted into the Illinois Hockey Hall of Fame. In 2013 he would be named Vice-President of the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL, winning a championship with the team and setting record crowds in 22 of the teams 25 games in just 2 seasons.

Executive Assistant to the Commissioner and Head of the FHL Awards Committee John Landers commented on the selection of Brand for the award,

“What can one say about Scott Brand in the game of professional ice hockey that’s not been said before? Scott simply gets the job done and done well” Wrote Landers. “If there’s an off-ice hockey hat to wear Scott will wear it if necessary to accomplish a goal. What Scott and his dedicated staff in Carolina have accomplished is simply amazing. Record setting attendance numbers, a loving and trusting community association, and a true family fun environment game in and game out. This is why the FHL Awards Committee has chosen Scott Brand as this year’s Executive of the Year.”

The Federal Hockey League Award for Broadcaster of the Year is given for excellence in broadcasting to an individual or broadcast team. The 2017-2018 recipient of the award is Al Kessler of the Carolina Thunderbirds. His 2nd such award, Kessler was honored by the League for his work with the Berkshire Battalion during the 2014-2015 season. Kessler, born in New York, NY, began his hockey career as a broadcast intern with the Danbury Whalers of the FHL. He would also split time during the 2013-2014 season between Danbury and New York, working as an intern for legendary hockey writer and broadcaster, Stan “The Maven” Fischler. Kessler would broadcast Whaler games during the season as well as work as broadcast intern assisting the Madison Square Garden Network’s broadcasts of New York Islander home games. The following season Kessler would transition to Berkshire and serve as the broadcaster for the new FHL team. Following that he would move to Macon, Georgia and work a year for the Macon Mayhem of the Southern Professional Hockey League, before stepping away from hockey for a year to attend Mercer University as both a student and broadcaster. During his time at Mercer, Kessler would work as a play-by-play and color commenter for a host of Division 1 NCAA sporting events.

John Landers on Kessler being chosen for the award:

“Al Kessler, the 2017-18 Broadcaster of the Year is the full package. Al’s Consistent dedication to his craft is clear and made his selection by the Awards Committee an easy one. This does not detract from any of the other announcers within the league who also work hard, we just felt that Al’s efforts clearly went the extra mile all season and he should be acknowledged for it.”

Begun during the 2015-2016 season, the FHL Founder’s Award is given out to a person or group for their outstanding service and commitment to the FHL. The 2017-2018 Founders Award recipient is Diane Short, Director of Operations for the Danville Dashers. Short joined the Dashers in 2015 after many years of experience in the field of business operations as well as a successful entrepreneur in the fashion industry. No stranger to hockey, Short has worked closely with the Danville Wings, a Junior “A” team, and created the first-ever dance team in the North American Hockey League. Short lives in Danville with her husband Jerry and their three children.

John Landers on the choice for the FHL Founder’s Award,

“Hard work and dedication are Diane Short’s middle names. She runs the off-ice operations for the Danville Dashers with a staff of Diane. In other words, if it needs to get done, Diane will get it done and done right.” Wrote Landers “Her tireless efforts which include very long office hours as well as taking calls at any hour of the day or night to help her team and the league succeed are unmatched and that is why Diane Short is our selection for this year’s Founder’s Award.”

The three awards are the only ones that have been announced by the Federal Hockey League. The remainder of the FHL awards will be announced at the end of the regular season.