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NCAA hockey star and Sandy resident gets unsung hero award

Sandy native Jared Pike, 2020 Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award winner. Photo courtesy of NCAA Hockey

SANDY, Utah — Sandy native Jared Pike gets what some consider the highest, most prestigious award a Division I hockey player can receive, the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award.  The award is given in honor of a former Army West Point player who was killed in the line of duty on September 1, 2005 in Afghanistan.  Pike is currently a senior forward with the American International College Yellow Jackets of the Atlantic Hockey Conference.

Pike says the award is given to a player in NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey who exhibits competitive efforts at the highest level, shows leadership in his community and is an overall good human being.  He says the award is one of the big 5 national awards given at the end of the season at the NCAA level.

“This award goes a lot deeper than just the game of hockey.  It’s about a young man named Derek Hines who played hockey, then graduated and went to serve his country in Afghanistan, and ended up getting shot on the front lines.  His whole town in Massachusetts went to his funeral.  The NCAA reached out and named this award in honor of him because he was an excellent team mate at Army, a great person. People there loved him,” recalls Pike.

Pike says fifty other players were considered, and he feels honored to have been chosen the winner, but first and foremost, he gives credit to the coaches and his teammates.  He says as far as he is concerned, all he can do is try to be the best player he can be.

“I think, playing for American International College ice hockey the last several years, we’ve turned the program around from the graveyard in the college hockey world to a top 20 ranked team in the last two years.  Winning this award is a shout-out to my team as well,” says Pike.

Pike, who is now 24 years old, developed his love of hockey at the age of 2, screaming and crying when he would see his father and older brother heading to the skating rink without him.  He would often go to bed with hockey stick in hand, helmet on his head.  When he was a few years older, he would play locally in the 5-year-old league.  After years of playing competitively in Utah, he left at 17 to play for the Los Angeles Junior Kings.  He was then drafted into the North American Hockey League for the Bismark Bobcats for two years before playing at NCAA Div. I AIC.

Pike’s season ended early due to coronavirus, cancelled back in mid-March.  Pike says the Yellow Jackets finished in first place in the conference when play ended.  The team was preparing for conference playoffs for a chance to play in the NCAA tournament, when school closed.  He said online classes continued, but a chance to play for a spot in the sport’s tournament was not going to happen.  He says despite the loss of post-season, being in first place for two seasons in a row is something the team is proud of.

Pike says he’d love to make his way into the National Hockey League and believes his best initial move might be into the East Coast Hockey League, the league that the Utah Grizzlies play in.  He plans on coming home on Monday, April 13th and wants to spend time with his family and his girlfriend, play some video games and continue workouts to stay in shape.