Will Bitten Named T-Birds' IOA/American Specialty Man of the YearMay 2, 2023
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Springfield Thunderbirds are proud to announce that Will Bitten has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Springfield community during the 2022-23 season.
Bitten used a tragedy in his life to help generate funds for brain tumor/cancer research in his native Ontario. Will lost his cousin, Martin Piche, at age 31 in 2021. A full story on Martin can be read here.
With the support of the T-Birds and the T-Birds Charitable Foundation, Bitten helped re-establish Bitsy's Army, a GoFundMe he started earlier in his career with the Iowa Wild. Originally created as a means of raising money for Martin’s medical expenses, Bitten, along with his brother Sam, have continued to be at the forefront of the battle against brain tumors and cancer. The Thunderbirds and Bitten collaborated on pregame warmup jerseys adorned in lavender for Springfield’s Hockey Fights Cancer Night this past November. Auction proceeds from those jerseys directly benefited the cause.
To help make Bitsy’s Army truly Springfield-focused, Bitten and the Thunderbirds' creative services team came together to create new logos and a merchandise line for Bitsy's Army, and the products sold at Thunderbirds games throughout the season all benefited the T-Birds Foundation, which in turn made a contribution to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
Bitten’s involvement extended beyond his work in cancer fundraising, as, along with numerous teammates, the T-Birds winger was a mainstay at local youth hockey organizational practices throughout the season. Springfield players made more than 70 combined appearances within the Pioneer Valley throughout the 2022-23 season.
Bitten is now one of 32 finalists for the AHL’s 2022-23 Yanick Dupré Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupré Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League on Thursday, May 5.