Jonathan Quick, the former Avon Old Farms hockey standout who led the Los Angeles Kings to their first Stanley Cup championship in June, has been selected as the state’s athlete of the year by the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance.
Quick will be honored at the 72nd annual Gold Key dinner on April 28 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. He will receive the Bill Lee Male Athlete of the Year award.
Gold Key winners that will be honored are former NBA player Mike Gminski, E.O. Smith boys soccer coach John Blomstrann, UConn field hockey coach Nancy Stevens, Staples cross country and track coach John “Laddie” Lawrence and former New Haven College basketball star Gary Liberatore.
Quick, who will turn 27 on Jan. 21, was born in Milford and grew up in Hamden where residents on Tanglewood Drive still remember him playing street hockey in front of his house. He played travel hockey with the Mid Fairfield Youth Hockey Association out of the Darien Ice Rink, helping his team win consecutive national championships.
He played two years at Hamden High before transferring to Avon Old Farms where he helped lead the Beavers to a pair of New England championships in 2004 and 2005. He went 53-8 with 11 shutouts in three years at AOF, allowing just one goal in 27 games in 2005.
Quick played collegiately for the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, cracking the starting lineup as a freshman and over the next four years establishing several school records that still stand. He would lead the Minutemen to their first NCAA tournament appearance and in his first tournament game stopped 33 shots in a 1-0 overtime victory against Clarkson University.
The Kings selected Quick in the third round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft with the 72nd overall pick and he made his NHL debut on Dec. 6, 2007 against the Buffalo Sabres in an 8-2 win. He played only three games with the Kings that season while splitting time with the ECHL’s Reading Royals and the Manchester Monarchs, the King’s AHL affiliate. He began the 2008-09 season with the Monarchs, but was quickly called up to the Kings on Dec. 16 and earned his first NHL shutout seven days later.
Quick became the Kings No. 1 goalie in 2009-10, the same season he was named to the U.S. men’s hockey team, which earned a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia.
But it was the 2011-12 season when Jonathan Quick became a household name in NHL circles. He was nominated as a Vezina Trophy finalist, was named an NHL Second Team All-Star, led the league with 10 shutouts (a Kings franchise record), and had the second-lowest goals-against average with 1.95.
Then came his magical postseason as Quick led Los Angeles to its first Stanley Cup championship in the team’s 45-year history. He posted a 16-4 record with a 1.41 GAA and three shutouts while leading the Kings, the No. 8 seed, to series wins over top-seed Vancouver, No. 2 St. Louis, No. 3 Phoenix in the Western Conference finals, and the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals. He also set a new NHL playoff record with his 11th consecutive win on the road (later extended to 12 straight).
Quick became only the third U.S-born player awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP in the playoffs (2009 Gold Key winner Brian Leetch of Cheshire was one of the other two). The Kings clinched the Stanley Cup on June 11 and on June 28 they awarded Quick with a new 10-year contract worth $58 million.
Tickets to the 2013 Gold Key Dinner, which begins at 4 p.m., can be purchased by contacting either CSWA President George Albano of The (Norwalk) Hour at (203) 434-2320 or Vice President and Dinner Chairman Bob Ehalt of The New Haven Register at Ehalt.Bob@sbcglobal.net.