Napanee’s Ryan Casselman continues to add to his trophy case this offseason as last week the top scoring Raider was named the 2017-18 OHA Donald Sanderson Memorial Award recipient.
The award, named for one-time Raider Donald Sanderson, is presented annually to a player in the OHA that meets the criteria set out by the Sanderson family: dedication, discipline, desire and development.
Sanderson was a mid-season acquisition for the Raiders during the 2004-05 season. In late 2008 as a member of the Whitby Dunlops, he suffered a serious head injury and later passed away in early 2009 at the age of 21. His namesake award is presented to players enrolled in college or university and comes with a $1,000 bursary.
Casselman returned to his hometown Raiders prior to this season after leading the Cobourg Cougars to an RBC Cup championship. His Junior A experience paid dividends in his return to Junior C as he racked up 117 points in 40 games, helping the Raiders to a record setting regular season.
Prior to committing to a return to Napanee, Casselman had been promised a scholarship and a roster spot to play NCAA hockey at Niagara University. A sudden coaching change caused Niagara to withdraw from the agreement made with several prospects, Casselman included. That’s when Casselman opted to return home, enrolled at St. Lawrence College and suit up for his hometown team. He’s maintained an average in the high 80s at school while playing in every single one of Napanee’s games this past season and attending every team function.
“While his dedication to hockey and his skills are evident, there’s much more to Ryan than just hockey.” Raiders GM Adam Bramburger said, “In the summer of 2016, our organization was holding a cook-off fundraiser and we were looking for players to serve food and help out. Despite being gone from the Raider organization for two full years, Ryan stayed all night, did several jobs, and helped make our event a success.”
Casselman will have another shot to add to his hockey resume as he’s eligible for one more year at the junior level next season.