The Messier Project and hockey icon Mark Messier — the only NHL player to captain two different teams to the Stanley Cup — are proud to recognize an outstanding and up-and-coming young junior hockey captain.
Forward Conor Lemirande, 19, of the Janesville Jets is the 2012-2013 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.
Lemirande, a native of Janesville, Wis., has been a rock-solid cornerstone for the Jets
on the ice and in their community. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward recorded 21 points
(nine goals, 12 assists) and 127 penalty minutes in 54 games during 2012-13, his second
NAHL season and second with the Jets. He has established himself as a selfless leader
who never hesitates to stand up for his team and teammates.
“Conor is the player you hate to play against, but love to have on your team,” Jets coach Joe Dibble said. “He’s a big power forward who can skate, shoot and play physical.
“He has been the leader of our team since Day One. He’s a very positive young man who leads by example with his work ethic on and off the ice.”
But there’s much more to Lemirande’s story than hockey.
NAHL players range in age from 16 to 20, and generally have more-structured and
more-demanding personal schedules than most young people. On top of his hockey
responsibilities with the Jets, Lemirande averaged almost 15 hours of community
service per month in his hometown during the 2012-13 NAHL campaign, and he
has continued to work with causes in the area following the season. He also actively
encourages his teammates to get involved with a wide variety of initiatives in
Janesville, a city of 65,000 in southern Wisconsin.
“Conor completely embodies the spirit of The Messier Project Leadership Award,”
said Messier, who played on six Stanley Cup winning teams. “As a selfless player,
Conor earned the respect of his teammates on the ice, but maybe more importantly,
he has used the game of hockey as a vehicle to become a role model, and a wonderful
contributing member of our society.
“I congratulate Conor for an outstanding season, and his efforts to lead off the ice for so many worthwhile causes.”
Lemirande’s community engagement has included:
- Helping his team raise $4,000 for the Salvation Army, including by ringing bells during the holiday season, to help families in the community.
- Collecting toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys For Tots Program.
- Raising funds and awareness for Janesville-based Mercy Health Systems’ cancer awareness initiatives, including as part of a “Skaters as Waiters” benefit.
- As part of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Lemirande was a “big brother” for the entire season and mentored youngster in sports, helped with homework and served as a role model.
- Volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club of Janesville, where he was a “lunch buddy” for elementary age children.
“This is the type of player we want in Janesville,” Dibble said. “We want great character great work ethic and players who understand that there is more to playing junior hockey than just going to the rink.
“Conor is a true example of that. He is a great face of our organization in and around the city of Janesville."
The Messier Project, which was acquired by Bauer Performance Sports last year, is currently the NAHL’s Official Helmet Supplier.
The NAHL is the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II Junior A league and boasts 24 teams from across North America. The league 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.
Conor Lemirande in action for the Janesville Jets in an M11 PRO helmet.