Union senior forward Josh Kosack, known for his community service off the ice, didn’t need a hockey season to earn a hockey award.
During the 2021 Hobey Baker Award show on Friday, Kosack was named the winner of the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award recognizing the NCAA Division I hockey player whose contributions can’t be measured by statistics.
Kosack didn’t have any hockey stats, anyway, since Union decided to cancel its season because of health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he did continue his charitable work in Schenectady.
He was one of five finalists for the Derek Hines Award and was also one of three finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, won by Delaney Wolf, a senior defenseman on the Saint Mary’s women’s team. The awards are presented by the Hockey Commissioners Association (HSA).
“When I found out I was going to be the recipient, I was kind of at a loss for words, just learning about Derek Hines and the kind of character, and the kind of leader and person he was,” Kosack said by phone from his home in Oakville, Ontario. “So that award was something that I honestly couldn’t even explain, and I was very honored to receive that.”
Kosack is taking the spring semester off so that he can re-enroll next fall and use his final year of eligibility in a Dutchmen uniform, which will have a captain’s “C” on it.
Besides being a gritty defensive forward for Union, he started a community outreach project called “Kozi’s Kids,” through which he donates game tickets and gear to local kids and counsels them on what it takes to be a college student-athlete.
He also raised money to buy Christmas presents for kids at COCOA House, an education center, and organized a coat drive for donation to the Schenectady City Mission around the winter holidays.
“During his time at Union, Josh has excelled in the classroom and thrived as a leader both on and off the ice,” coach Rick Bennett said in a release from Union. “Through his work ethic and humility in all he does, he has earned the respect of professors, athletic administration, coaches, and peers. On the ice he is responsible for checking the other team’s top lines, blocking countless shots on the penalty kill, and finishing checks to lift his teammates. He defines the term ‘captain’ by his actions in his daily life and he has helped shape what leadership in our program will look like for years to come.”
The Unsung Hero Award is named for former Army hockey captain Derek Hines, who was killed in the line of duty while serving in Afghanistan in 2005.
The Union program has a connection to Hines, since his family and that of former Dutchmen Jack Adams are friendly. The Adams family consoled the Hineses when Derek was killed, and they reciprocated when Jack Adams’ brother, former Providence player Mark Adams Jr., died in 2018.
“Jack called me just to congratulate me, and I didn’t even know that they were family friends,” Kosack said. “Then I talked to Jack’s dad as well, and it was very heartfelt, knowing that they were so close.
“Obviously, winning today was pretty surreal.”
Kosack said that even though he didn’t win the Humanitarian Award, the HSA donated $500 to COCOA House, “which I thought was a very classy move on their part.”
“It’s something to strive for next year.”