Okanagan Hokey Academy alum Beck Malenstyn has been named the Hershey Bears winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Hershey community during the 2018-19 season.
Malenstyn, 21, attended the Okanagan Hockey Academy from 2011 to 2014, playing two seasons on the OHA Bantam Prep team and one season with the OHA Midget Prep team that captured the 2014 Canadian Sport Hockey League Championship.
A first-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen at the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Malenstyn would go on to play four seasons in the WHL with the Hitmen and Swift Current Broncos.
He was selected in the fifth round, 145th overall, by the Washington Capitals at the 2016 NHL Draft and is currently in his first season with the AHL’s Bears, where he has netted 14 points (6-8-14) in 67 games.
Malenstyn was always the ?rst Bear to volunteer for events as part of the team's Hershey Bears Cares community initiative. The 21-year-old rookie forward quickly immersed himself in the Central Pennsylvania community, participating in nearly 20 events during the 2018-19 season. He met with members of the military, helped underprivileged youth, brought smiles to sick children, and participated in team specialty nights to fight cancer and raise funds for charitable causes.
Events Malenstyn participated in included: Ft. Indiantown Gap visit ahead of Hometown Heroes Night, Coco Packs event to help children in need for the holiday season, BINGO at the PennState Health Children’s Hospital, Children’s programs at schools including Highland Elementary, Sled Hockey event with PUCHOGS, the player skate with the American Special Hockey Association, and the club’s 7th annual Running for Rachel fundraiser with Arooga’s.
The Bears, the AHL's oldest and most decorated team, have a passionate fan base. Malenstyn's play quickly made him a fan favorite, but his personality and accessibility via team events have cemented his place in the hearts of Bears fans. This year, Malenstyn made public appearances signing autographs and meeting fans on numerous occasions. He played games with children at Dave & Busters, took part in Trivia Night with fans at Funck's Restaurant, helped welcome fans to a new local restaurant, and took part in a meet and greet event at Ollie's Bargain Outlet.
Malenstyn is now one of 31 finalists for the AHL’s 2018-19 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League at a later date.
I can confidently say the Okanagan Hockey Academy had an impact on me as a hockey player but more importantly as a person. OHA taught me to bring my best self in all aspects of life including as a student, player and community member. I learned many life skills during my time at OHA that I will take with me much longer than my playing career and that is the greatest gift the staff, coaches, billets and community gave to me. I strongly believe I am a more well-rounded individual because of my time at OHA. I hope any young hockey player with drive, determination and a passion to become a better player and person is able to have the chance to attend somewhere so amazing. For me OHA gave me the best balance of academics, athletics, family and social life. I am extremely grateful for my time at Okanagan Hockey Academy.