The NAHL announced the 2012/13 All-Rookie Teams as voted by the league’s head coaches. Two Texas Tornado players were selected in forwards Brandon Hawkins and Scott Conway. Hawkins was selected to the first team while Conway was named to the second team.
Hawkins who is a native of Macomb, MI was Tendered by the Tornado at the end of last seasons out of the Little Caesars HPHL Midget Majors organization where he played mainly on the blue-line. Once in Texas, Head Coach Tony Curtale quickly moved the 19 year old up the ice to the forward position to take advantage of his quick release. “He’s one of the purest goal-scorers I’ve ever coached,” Curtale said. “He is a young player with an NHL shot.” Brandon finished the season as the league’s leading goal scorer with 35 on the year to go along with 23 assists in 60 games.
Hawkins picked up two assists in his first game in a Tornado uniform at the NAHL Showcase in Blaine, MN. The following two games he was held off the scoreboard before scoring two goals in Texas’ final game at the Showcase. That two goal game kicked off an impressive string that helped propel the Tornado to a 10 game win streak. Over the next seven games Hawkins racked up 11 more goals for a total of 13 in eight games played.
The streak included his first hat trick of the season on October 4th in Corpus Christi. The night got off to a bang for Hawkins as he checked the IceRays’ Perry D’Arrisso through the glass late in the first period. It was the second period where he showed his offensive prowess and logged his natural hat trick in the span of 10:22. All told Hawkins registered 15 points on 12 goals and 3 assists to garner NAHL Forward of the Month honors for the month of October. He was also named the Combat Hockey South Division Star of the Week once, Second Star once and Honorable Mention once.
In six playoff games Hawkins managed one goal as the Tornado advanced to the NAHL South Division Finals before being swept by the Amarillo Bulls in three games.
In January, Hawkins selected Bowling Green State University from the dozens of suitors to sign his NCAA Division I commitment. “I liked the idea of Bowling Green more than I did a lot of other schools,” Hawkins said. “It’s a small-town school and I’m really comfortable with that type of feel.” Another aspect that appealed to Hawkins was potential for playing early. “Bowling Green told me I could come in and play as a freshman,” Hawkins said. “If that happens, it would be amazing. If it doesn’t work out that way, I’ll play the next year. But it’s all about getting the education. It’s been my dream to get a free education; it’s a real burden off my mom and dad’s back.” Should Hawkins make that roster his freshman year he will be joining former Texas Tornado defenseman Ralfs Freibergs in a Falcons sweater.
Conway was selected by the Tornado with the 101st overall pick in the fifth round of the 2012 NAHL Entry Draft. With an April 1995 birthday, Conway was one of the youngest players in the league and may have been overlooked by some teams because of his age. “There were a lot of teams that obviously didn’t do their homework on the kid,” said Tornado Assistant Coach Tom Murphy.
Conway who hails from Kissimmee, FL has some rather impressive hockey bloodlines to draw from. Scott’s father Kevin played in the Ontario Hockey League before moving to the UK to play professionally. Kevin spent 20 years playing in England earning election to the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame. During the 1987/88 season Conway scored an unbelievable 151 goals. While his dad was lacing up the skates professionally, young Scott was developing on the International Hockey stage playing for England’s U12 and U14 National Teams.
Once back in the United States, Conway headed for the Detroit area to play Midgets finishing up in the Victory Honda organization where he scored 20 goals and added 18 assists in 40 games during the 2011/12 season.
While he was not lighting the lamp at the same pace as Hawkins, Conway was instrumental in Hawkins’ success. When Hawkins was named the NAHL Forward of the Month in October he gave a lot of credit to Conway. “It actually felt great getting those honors,” said Hawkins. “It came a lot from my line mates Scott Conway and Jason Eddy. They have been working their butts off and just trying to go to the net hard.”
Conway scored 54 points on the season with 18 goals and 36 assists in 57 games including scoring streaks of seven and eight games. Conway’s 36 assists was good for second on the team while his +27 was good for the team lead. Curtale was impressed with Conway’s maturity on the ice. “For being only 17-years-old, he sees the ice very well, and has the ability to make great passes and find the open man.” Conway’s play was instrumental in Texas’ first round playoff sweep of the Topeka RoadRunners. He had a late game goal in game two for the game winner then hung four points on Topeka in the final game of the series including a hat trick.
Scott was named Runner-up for NAHL Forward of the Month honors in November. He also was awarded the Combat Hockey South Division Star of the Week twice to go along with Honorable Mention four times.
While Conway has yet to sign an NCAA Division I commitment, you can rest assured that he is on several major program’s radar screens. This time teams will definitely be doing their homework on the kid.