USHL - Zmolek wins Curt Hammer Award

Cedar Rapids, IA- April 13, 2017

Portions of this article provided by USHL Staff

The USHL announced today that Cedar Rapids RoughRiders defenseman Riese Zmolek and Bloomington goaltender Logan Halladay have been named the 2017 recipients of the USHL Curt Hammer Award. The Curt Hammer Award has been presented annually since the 1988-89 season and recognizes the USHL player who distinguishes himself both on and off the ice by demonstrating outstanding performance skills, leadership, pride and determination. The award is given in memory of the late Curt Hammer who served as President of the Des Moines Buccaneers for three seasons (1984-1987).

Zmolek is the first RoughRiders recipient of the award. Zmolek is in his second year with Cedar Rapids, and was named captain by his teammates earlier this season. In two years Zmolek has become heavily involved in the community of Cedar Rapids, including leading the team in volunteering this season. His dedication to community efforts went beyond himself, as he spent much of the season encouraging teammates and coordinating schedules for other RoughRiders to make appearances alongside him.

"It's a big honor," said Zmolek. "I'm very happy to of played for an organization that does this kind of stuff. All the boys enjoyed doing it, I enjoyed doing it. We enjoyed the looks on peoples faces when we did that kind of stuff, they enjoyed it a lot."

Weekly, Zmolek volunteered as a mentor at Viola Gibson Elementary school where he dedicated his time to be a role model for youth in the community. Zmolek also volunteered time at the Rescue Day Hab assisting adults with special needs, assisted in feeding veterans on Thursdays with the local Freedom Foundation and delivered food to seniors with Meals on Wheels.

"Our entire organization is very excited that Riese was co-recipient of the Curt Hammer Award," said RoughRiders Head Coach Mark Carlson. "Riese was a tremendous leader for our team both on and off the ice. He volunteered his time and encouraged his teammates to volunteer as well, a great story all around." "I couldn't have done it without the help of the organization, Tammy Carlson, the coaching staff and the guys," added Zmolek. "Everyone was doing the community service, as a team."

Earlier this year, the community of Cedar Rapids was hit with record rainfall that resulted in a flood that required nearly 10 miles of barriers and upward of 400,000 sandbags, according to the CR Gazette. Zmolek was at the forefront of the RoughRiders organization in helping to organize the flood clean up and team activities to help other volunteers. He and his teammates delivered cookies to local fire & police stations as a thank you for their service to their community.

"This is the 1st season I had a captain assist me in scheduling of the community service," said Community Service Coordinator Tammy Carlson. "Riese went above and beyond to not only schedule but put in the time & effort into helping develop team chemistry and the pairing up of all the different players. It was truly and honor to be beside him, he is character at it's best. Carlson added, "With the help of his two assistants Zac Robbins and Ben Foley, who were constant pillars in volunteering in our community over the past two years as well, they are the true definition of what teamwork stands for."

Zmolek is a product of Rochester Century High School and is a native of Rochester, MN. After two seasons in the USHL and a brief stint with the Austin Bruins (NAHL), Zmolek committed to play college hockey at Minnesota State University, Mankato next season.

"Riese constantly sets the bar for his teammates in work ethic, compete level in games, practices and team workouts," added Carlson. "You would be hard pressed to find a better leader on or off the ice. Riese has been second to none leading his team at the arena and in the community. He has put our community and teammates ahead of himself while helping others throughout the season. He has truly embodied what it means to lead and to give back."

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