Chicago Wolves defenseman Zac Leslie received the 2019 Tim Breslin Unsung Hero Award prior to Sunday’s game against the Colorado Eagles at Allstate Arena. This honor celebrates the Wolves player who best exemplifies the late Breslin’s on-ice spirit, team-first attitude and level of community involvement.
Breslin, one of the first three players signed by the Wolves when the organization was formed in 1994, passed away on Feb. 9, 2005, due to complications from appendiceal cancer. The Addison native and Driscoll Catholic High School graduate contributed 37 goals and 82 assists in five seasons with the Wolves and played a big role on the 1998 Turner Cup champions. Breslin’s family, including his widow, Jami, and their children, Shane, Paige and Chase, participated in Sunday’s pregame ceremony.
Leslie, a 25-year-old defenseman from Ottawa, Ontario, earned the Breslin Unsung Hero Award for his willingness to play any and every role for this year’s Central Division champions. Though he hadn’t played on the wing since he was 12 years old, he made the move when several Wolves forwards suffered injuries earlier this season. And when multiple centermen got hurt in mid-March, Leslie moved to center for the first time in his life.
“Tim Breslin’s name is everywhere with the Chicago Wolves,” Leslie said. “He’s still a very important part of the organization and has been forever. It’s a huge honor to be named for this award, especially when we have 20 guys who are all great people. It’s an honor to be recognized out of the group that we have.”
Leslie, who scored a goal in his first game at forward, has contributed two goals and 14 assists in 63 games this season for the Wolves. He also has been a stalwart in the Wolves’ community efforts, which includes fundraising work for Chicago Wolves Charities.
Wolves fans determined the 2019 Breslin Award winner as they voted at ChicagoWolves.com for the three candidates nominated by the team’s coaching staff: Leslie, center Gage Quinney and defenseman Griffin Reinhart.
Leslie joins teammate T.J. Tynan (2018), Bryce Gervais (2017), Andre Benoit (2016), Brent Regner (2014, 2015), Bill Sweatt (2013), Mark Matheson (2012), Jaime Sifers (2011), Matt Anderson (2010), Steve Martins (2009), Brian Sipotz (2008), Brian Fahey (2007), Kevin Doell (2006) and Tim Wedderburn (2005) among the Wolves players who have earned this honor.
Sunday’s ceremony also recognized Prospect High School senior Anelisa Marie Spagnola, who is this year’s recipient of the Tim Breslin Memorial Scholarship earmarked for a college-bound student who has overcome a hardship. With help from her mother and two older sisters, Anelisa has handled the loss of her father, Chicago police officer Michael Spagnola, who passed away suddenly on Feb. 10, 2013. To honor her father, who dreamed of becoming a dentist, Anelisa plans to pursue a degree in dentistry at University of Illinois-Chicago.