The Rochester Americans are proud to announce that defenseman Nathan Paetsch has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Rochester community during the 2019-20 season.
After winning the same award for the second straight year last season, Paetsch has continued to deepen his footprint in the local community despite only playing in 10 games during the 2019-20 campaign.
Prior to the start of the season, his seventh in Rochester and third since the 2010-11 campaign, Paetsch accompanied several Amerks players, coaches and office staff by delivering season tickets to various local businesses and corporate partners of the organization.
While being a healthy scratch for the first three months of the season, Paetsch, a former five-time winner of the Amerks’ McCulloch Trophy for his commitment and dedication to the Rochester community, made the most of his time, however, as he would regularly make appearances to meet with fans and other youth organizations either during or following games as part of the Captain’s Club program.
A few weeks later, Paetsch kicked off the 15th season of the ever-popular Amerks Reading Power Play Program at the Fairport Public Library. The Amerks Reading Power Play program involves players stopping by local libraries, reading to kids and giving a hockey demonstration and allows the kids to learn about the game of hockey and the shows the importance of reading.
As the holidays approached, Paetsch again spearheaded a full-team outing as all 27 Amerks players, in addition to head coach Chris Taylor, visited two Rochester-area hospitals in the same day.
In January, the Amerks partnered with the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester to host “Defend the Ice Month” for the third consecutive season. The month-long campaign focused on efforts to help raise awareness for polar bear and ice conservation primarily in the Arctic regions. The Amerks wore special polar bear-themed jerseys along with matching socks in support of polar bear awareness. To kick off the month, Paetsch, along with forward Tyler Randell, volunteered to appear in video public service announcements and made regular visits to the Zoo in support of the cause.
The Amerks once again partnered with New York’s 529 College Savings Plan for the return of the Amerks Jr. Reporter Program and Paetsch helped provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to local kids that won the chance to interview him and get a tour of the Amerks locker room afterwards as well as watch an Amerks practice.
In February, Paetsch participated in the annual ball hockey game against a group of athletes from Lifetime Assistance, a local organization dedicated to fostering independence, dignity and respect for individuals with disabilities.
Later that month, Paetsch led a one-hour on-ice session following an Amerks practice as part of the Grow With the Pros! Mentor Program in partnership with the Professional Hockey Players Association. Paetsch was joined by forward Jarrett Burton and fellow defenseman Casey Fitzgerald as the group provided on-ice instruction focused on skill development to close to 40 youth participants before hosting an interactive off-ice panel style discussion where PHPA Mentor Instructors left a lasting impression by detailing their hockey journey, including the adversity they had to overcome to make it to the professional ranks, while explaining the importance of teamwork, character and maintaining a positive attitude. The one-of-a-kind experience concluded with each participant having the opportunity to sit across the table from the Player Mentors for an official contract signing.
Over the next few weeks, Paetsch will spearhead a massive community-wide initiative in which he will personally distribute food donated by Caraglio’s Pizza and a host of other Amerks local partners to all Rochester-area hospitals and medical centers to feed healthcare workers and medical professionals on the front lines against COVID-19. Paetsch will visit Rochester General Hospital, Strong Memorial Hospital and Golisano Children’s Hospital, Highland Hospital and Unity Hospital as well as several other WellNow Urgent Care facilities in the Greater Rochester Area.
One of Paetsch’s most admirable attributes is his willingness to develop personal relationships with the fans. Following games which came with a “jersey off the back” presentation to the winning fans, Paetsch always took it upon himself to greet each fan with a smile and thank them for being such a loyal supporter of the team.
In addition to being a true Amerks ambassador both on and off the ice, these are just a few of the outstanding things Paetsch is consistently doing to make a difference in the Greater Rochester Community all while serving as one of the Amerks assistant captains.
Paetsch is now one of 31 finalists for the AHL’s 2019-20 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.