The outgoing captain of the Sarnia Sting has received one final honour before he becomes too old to play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
The league announced Thursday that overage defenceman Nolan Dillingham is the 2022-23 recipient of the Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy.
Dillingham was chosen for the award by a media selection committee as the OHL team captain that best exemplifies leadership on and off the ice, with a passion and dedication to the game of hockey in his community that Mickey demonstrated.
Dillingham said receiving the Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy is an amazing honour.
"I am incredibly grateful to have been selected," said Dillingham, who recently completed his fifth season in the Sting organization.
"Through our last few seasons our coaching staff and management have been extremely supportive and worked with our leadership group to cultivate an environment that embraces discipline, hard work, and fun," he said. "It has always been our commitment to not only excel on the ice but also as a teammate, community leader and person. This season may have fallen short of the championship we all wanted, but the culture, environment and expectations we set are a big source of pride and hopefully something that will carry-on in Sarnia for years to come."
Dillingham was named Sting captain in January 2022 after serving as captain throughout his minor hockey career with the Mississauga Rebels AAA program.
According to a media release from the OHL, the blueliner has been the leading force of a cultural shift within the Sting organization as he exhibits excellence, inclusion and professionalism daily.
It said Dillingham's presence, work ethic and genuine care for every person he comes across are some of his leading qualities.
He has also maintained a relationship with the son of one of his former high school teachers who passed away two years ago, ensuring the child, who is a hockey fan, has a continued connection to the game. Dillingham has delivered signed memorabilia from Sting players and spent time with the young fan while home during the season and throughout the off-season.
Sting General Manager Dylan Seca said Dillingham is a player and a person who fully embodies the organization's core values.
"He signifies the same character and leadership of Mickey Renaud," said Seca. "He is a great teammate and someone who always found time to support his teammates and those in need in our community. As a captain, he helped shift our culture and has been the heart and soul of our group for the past two seasons. Nolan has left a legacy and a standard for all future players who wear the Sting crest. We are proud of his accomplishments, it’s a special moment for him, his family, and the entire Sting organization."
Dillingham served prominently in the Sting's School Breakfast program, serving students at local elementary schools and was also a leader of the Sting's "We Serve" Dinner program in cooperation with Boston Pizza.
On the ice, the 20-year-old from Mississauga overcame an early-season injury to record career-highs with 14 points (6-8--14) over 45 games along with a plus/minus rating of plus-11 as Sarnia collected 41 wins and 91 points. He added six points (3-3--6) in 12 playoff contests, helping the Sting reach the Western Conference Championship Series for the first time in their 28-year history.
He was also recognized in the OHL Coaches Poll as the best body checker in the Western Conference.
The Sting selected Dillingham in the fourth round (68th overall) of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection as he went on to record 32 points (9-23--32) over 147 career regular season games in black and yellow.
Dillingham will be formally presented with the Mickey Renaud Captain's Trophy at the OHL’s Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, June 14 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.