CHICAGO — Dubuque Fighting Saints forward Stephen Halliday has been named the 2022 co-winner of the Curt Hammer Award. The Curt Hammer Award is given to the player, or players, who distinguishes themselves both on and off the ice by demonstrating outstanding performance skills, pride, and determination. It is named after the late Curt Hammer, who served in roles with the Des Moines Buccaneers and the USHL, and was a dedicated volunteer and supporter of hockey in the Des Moines community until he passed away from cancer in 1987.
Not only did Halliday prove to be arguably the best on-ice Fighting Saints player of all time, but he generously extended his hand to greatly impact the Dubuque community as well.
Directly after the conclusion of the 2020–21 season, Halliday led a tour of the Mystique Community Ice Center for young Christopher Klar, a local second grader who was diagnosed with a Wilms’ Tumor, a form of pediatric kidney cancer. He continued to lead the way by hosting Klar’s family and by honoring Klar as the “Hometown Hero” on the team’s Opening Night on October 9. Since then, Halliday and Klar have continued to remain in touch, and Klar has learned to skate to try to be just like his role model.
Halliday voluntarily put one of his record-breaking sticks up for auction during the Fighting Saints’ final home game of the regular season, with all proceeds benefitting the Dubuque Regional Humane Society. He proceeded to match the winning bid and raise $1,600 for the DRHS.
The third-year Fighting Saint routinely volunteered at Sara’s Dubuque Daycare to play with kids as young as a couple months old to preschool age. Halliday bonded with one child in particular, Parker, who would routinely attend Fighting Saints games while looking up to him as a role model. Halliday fostered Parker’s love of baseball and soccer during his visits and would meet up with Parker after games.
He regularly grew the game of hockey by volunteering at hockey camps and clinics throughout the previous three seasons in Dubuque. He took part in in-person and digital meet-and-greets for fans and team sponsors in the midst of stringent COVID-19 protocols throughout his playing time with the Fighting Saints. He was always the first player to reach out to Fighting Saints draft picks and affiliates, and built strong relationships with his teammates from the past and present.
“This award means a lot to me,” Halliday said. “Not only the charity work, or time at the daycare, but helping someone like Christopher. We will always be in touch. It’s always great to see someone going through a tough time have a big smile on their face, and he had that when he was at the rink. And, with the humane society, I’m a huge dog person. We have three at home.”
“Anything I can do to help a cause I care about is something I take pride in.”
The Ohio State commit excelled in the classroom throughout his tenure in Dubuque. His election to the 2020 USHL All-Academic Team was just the beginning for his academic exploits, as he graduated from Dubuque Senior High School with honors. Halliday took college courses throughout the 2021–22 season and achieved a 4.0 GPA while balancing hockey and academics.
On the ice, Halliday became the USHL’s Tier I all-time scoring leader, and the Dubuque Fighting Saints’ all-time scoring leader. His career included being named a 2022 USHL First Team All-Star, earning two USHL Forward of the Week honors, and being selected to participate in the 2022 BioSteel All-American Game, a showcase of the most elite NHL Draft-eligible, American-born hockey players.
Halliday joins Aidan Fulp in the history of Fighting Saints who have won this prestigious award, which highlights contributions made in the community. Fulp won the award in 2020. Ryan Siiro, who played for the Fighting Saints during the 2011–12 season, won the award the following season as captain of the Sioux Falls Stampede.
He shares the 2022 Curt Hammer Award honor with Omaha Lancers forward Michael Cameron.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT HALLIDAY
Kalle Larsson, Fighting Saints President of Hockey Operations & GM: Stephen exemplifies what a Fighting Saint is, both on and off the ice. He is the first to reach out to new draft picks and affiliates. He stays in touch with former players. He obviously has had an impact on the ice every single day.
JoAnne Gibson, Fighting Saints Education Coordinator: Stephen has continued the Fighting Saints’ tradition of academic achievement. He is very self-motivated, he worked hard, and he did not need any of my persuasive comments.
Oliver David, Fighting Saints Head Coach (2018–21): Our coaching staff continually talked to our players about playing “the right way,” and without hesitation, I can say that Stephen embodies that spirit. He has a great passion for the game. Above all, he is a great teammate who is very coachable, humble, and he always leads by example that embodies what it means to be a Fighting Saint.
Greg Brown, Fighting Saints Head Coach (2021–22): Stephen worked very hard in his offseason training to be ready for our season. The fact that he wanted to return to Dubuque this past year and round out his game to become a complete, 200-foot player speaks volumes about him and what he wants to do in hockey. He wants to be a well-rounded guy who plays in all situations. It’s a great attitude to have.
Tristan Lemyre, teammate (2020–22): Every time he comes to the rink, he wants to get better, and that shows in how much he improved his footspeed over the offseason. He is just a great person to be around because he wants to help his teammates become better.