WHL Hands Out Hardware

(Photo Credit: WHL/Brad Watson)

The Western Hockey League held the annual WHL Awards today in Calgary, AB to honour the top performances from the 2014-15 WHL Regular Season.

WHL Player of the Year – Four Broncos Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Oliver Bjorkstrand – Portland Winterhawks

A 1995-born forward from Herning, Denmark, Bjorkstrand enjoyed an explosive season for the Winterhawks to help the Club post a record of 43-23-2-4. This past year, it took Bjorkstrand 58 regular season games to amass 63 goals and 55 assists for 118 points to go along with a plus-60 rating.

Bjorkstrand’s 118 points ranked first in WHL regular season scoring while his 63 goals and plus-60 rating also led all players. Bjorkstrand led the League in shorthanded goals with eight while his 10 game-winning goals were tied for top spot. Bjorkstrand finished with 13 more goals than his nearest competitor, and is the third WHL player since the 2000-01 season to reach the 60-goal plateau. The 6’0, 168 lb forward set a franchise record with a 12-game goal streak from January 30th-March 6th. Bjorkstrand also recorded 36 multiple-point games and 16 multiple-goal games, including five hat tricks.

Drafted by Portland 26th overall in the 2012 CHL Import Draft, Bjorkstrand has played 193 career regular season games for the Winterhawks and has totaled 290 points (144g-156a) with a plus-142 rating. Bjorkstrand was selected in the third round, 89th overall, by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2013 NHL Draft.

RUNNER UP: Tim McGauley – Brandon Wheat Kings
WHL Rookie of the Year – Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Nolan Patrick – Brandon Wheat Kings

Patrick enjoyed a successful rookie season for the Brandon Wheat Kings in 2014-15. The 16-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba was seventh in team scoring and finished third among all WHL rookies in scoring with 56 points (30g-26a) in 55 games. Patrick’s 30 goals were first among WHL first-year players and were seven more than his nearest competitor. The Wheat Kings’ first round pick, fourth overall, in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, Patrick proved to be valuable to the overall success of the Wheat Kings’ offence as he recorded multiple-point outings in 16 games this season. Patrick is eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft.

RUNNER UP: Kailer Yamamoto – Spokane Chiefs
WHL Goaltender of the Year – Del Wilson Trophy
WINNER: Taran Kozun – Seattle Thunderbirds

Kozun enjoyed a productive season for the WHL’s second-best defensive club this year en route to a 33-19-4-4 record to go along with four shutouts. The 20-year-old finished second among WHL netminders with a 2.41 goals against average, tied for second with a .915 save percentage and fourth with 33 victories while helping the Thunderbirds finish in third place in the U.S. Division. The Nipawin, SK product had a consistent season that saw Kozun put together a string of five straight wins on two different occasions. Acquired from the Kamloops Blazers midway through the 2013-14 campaign, Kozun was named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week on February 9th, 2015.

RUNNER UP: Tristan Jarry – Edmonton Oil Kings
WHL Defenceman of the Year – Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Shea Theodore – Seattle Thunderbirds

Aldergrove, BC native Shea Theodore enjoyed another consistent season for the Thunderbirds to help the Club finish third in the U.S. Division and qualify for the 2015 WHL Playoffs. The 19-year-old scored 48 points (13g-35a) in 43 games, good for third overall in Thunderbirds scoring and 14th amongst WHL defencemen. A member of Canada’s National Junior Team, Theodore was the Thunderbirds’ third round pick, 64th overall from the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. He also earned a spot on the WHL Western Conference First All-Star Team this season. Theodore was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round, 26th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

RUNNER UP: Ivan Provorov – Brandon Wheat Kings
WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year – Brad Hornung Trophy
WINNER: Rourke Chartier – Kelowna Rockets

In his third WHL campaign, Rourke Chartier enjoyed a solid season for the Kelowna Rockets as he netted 48 goals and 82 points to finish tied for 14th in WHL scoring. The 19-year-old veteran from Saskatoon, SK made significant contributions to help the Rockets secure first place in the Western Conference. Playing key minutes in all situations, Chartier drew just 18 minutes in penalties on nine minor infractions. A humble player on the ice, Chartier has amassed just 34 penalty minutes in 188 career regular-season games. Chartier was the Rockets first-round pick, 15th overall, in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. Chartier was selected in the fifth-round, 149th overall, by the San Jose Sharks in the 2014 NHL Draft.

RUNNER UP: Peter Quenneville – Brandon Wheat Kings
WHL Scholastic Player of the Year – Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Nick McBride – Prince Albert Raiders

18-year-old Prince Albert Raiders goaltender Nick McBride enjoyed a productive season on the ice, but McBride’s academic efforts still stand out. The Maple Ridge, BC product completed his first semester of Grade 12 with a remarkable 96% average which included a 99% in Pre-Calculus. He also attained a 95% average during his Grade 11 year. McBride was involved in the Prince Albert community as well, making appearances in the Reading With the Raiders program where he encouraged young children to read by promoting the importance of literacy. The Raiders’ selected McBride in the second-round of the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft with the 23rd overall pick.

RUNNER UP: Joe Gatenby – Kelowna Rockets
WHL Humanitarian of the Year – Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Taylor Vickerman – Tri-City Americans

In his third WHL season, Tri-City Americans forward Taylor Vickerman has been a staple in the community this year with the activities and projects he has been involved in. A native of Kennewick, WA, Vickerman created the ‘Americans’ Faceoff Against Bullying’ campaign. Along with teammates Beau McCue and Justin Hamonic, the three players went to a variety of elementary schools in the community to talk to children who have been affected by bullying and let them know how to deal with the effects of bullying. They spoke to kids about their own experience of being bullied, helping relate to the students and make them feel comfortable talking about the issue. Another cause Vickerman was involved in was Habitat for Humanity where he along with several team members helped in the construction of a house for a family. For Vickerman’s community-minded initiatives, he is a deserving recipient of the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy.

RUNNER UP: Tyler Wong – Lethbridge Hurricanes
WHL Coach of the Year – Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy
WINNER: John Paddock – Regina Pats

In his first year as head coach of the Regina Pats, John Paddock guided the Club to a 37-27-5-6 record for 85 points and a second-place finish in the WHL’s East Division. Under Paddock’s guidance, the Pats skated to the second-best road record in the WHL’s East Division with 19 victories. Paddocks’ Pats boasted one of the most balanced attacks across the League with eight players having reached the 20-goal mark.

RUNNER UP: Dan Lambert – Kelowna Rockets
WHL Executive of the Year – Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Kelly McCrimmon – Brandon Wheat Kings

Now a three-time winner, Kelly McCrimmon enjoyed a successful campaign as both general manager and head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings. McCrimmon’s Wheat Kings posted a 53-11-4-4 record for 114 points to finish first overall and claim the Scotty Munro Trophy as the League’s top team. Under McCrimmon’s guidance, the Wheat Kings improved their win total by 19 and their point total by 37 from the 2013-14 season while also reducing their goals-against by an incredible 50 goals. McCrimmon brings a tremendous knowledge of the business side of hockey to the Wheat Kings general manager position as he previously received the Executive of the Year award in the 2009-10 and 1994-95 seasons.

RUNNER UP: Bruce Hamilton – Kelowna Rockets
WHL Marketing/Business Award
WINNER: Kelowna Rockets

The Kelowna Rockets enjoyed an exceptional year with a significant number of business and marketing initiatives throughout the 2014-15 WHL regular season. The Rockets boosted their game day attendance with aggressive group and flex pack sales campaigns. The Rockets also introduced a new marketing campaign entitled “Welcome to Rocketland” that focused on making the community a part of the team. The Club worked with many organizations including the Heart & Stroke Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society and Kelowna Fire Department amongst others. The Rockets also worked with the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association for their 50-50 initiative and will donate over $250,000 to KMHA. The Kelowna Rockets Alumni Foundation has also helped raise in excess of $300,000 over the last 13 years for the Kelowna General Hospital.

RUNNER UP: Brandon Wheat Kings
WHL Scholastic Team of the Year
WINNER: Kamloops Blazers

In a year that boasted one of the strongest academic classes in WHL history, the Kamloops Blazers finished at the top of the class. This season, 12 players attended Valleyview Secondary School where many graduated with honours. As a group, the Blazers took 33 core courses with an average of 82% at Valleyview secondary. Kamloops’ players were also enrolled in 52 elective courses which were completed with an 85% average in total. The Blazers, with the help of Education Advisor Vic Bifano, not only ensured that all players performed to their full academic potential, but also that each player was in the best possible position to pursue post-secondary opportunities.
WHL Top Official – Allen Paradice Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Reagan Vetter

Reagan Vetter is in his 11th season as a referee in the Western Hockey League. The 37-year-old from Saskatoon, SK is regarded for his effective communication skills, composure and excellent judgement. Vetter’s impressive officiating resume includes being selected to work the last four consecutive WHL Championship Series and representing the WHL at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup. Vetter, married with two children, continues to officiate at a high level while balancing a career as a teacher.
WHL Regular Season Champion – Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Brandon Wheat Kings

The Brandon Wheat Kings posted a 53-11-4-4 record for 114 points in 72 games this season to finish first overall in the WHL standings for the first time since the 1995-1996 season. During the 2014-15 regular season, the Wheat Kings led the league in home victories with 27 and had a stretch of 16 straight games in which they recorded at least a point from January 11, 2015 – February 16, 2015. The Wheat Kings finished 19 points ahead of their nearest competitor in the Eastern Conference standings, and finished with a 29-point lead for first place in the East Division. The Wheat Kings finished first overall in goal scoring with 340, and finished tied for seventh in fewest goals against, having allowed just 219.
WHL Top Scorer – Bob Clarke Trophy
WINNER: Oliver Bjorkstrand – Portland Winterhawks

A 20-year-old from Herning, Denmark, Bjorkstrand scored 63 goals and 55 assists for 118 points in 58 games during the 2014-15 WHL regular season. His 63 goals tied him for the seventh-highest single-season total in team history, and he set a franchise record with a 12-game goal streak from January 30, 2015 – March 6, 2015. His 63 goals and 118 points led all WHL players, and he also led the League in plus-minus with a plus-60 rating. Bjorkstrand was named the WHL Player of the Month three times in January, February and March 2015. He recorded 36 multiple-point games, and 16 multiple-goal games, including five hat tricks. Drafted by Portland 26th overall in the 2012 CHL Import Draft, Bjorkstrand has played three seasons for the Portland Winterhawks, amassing 144 goals while adding 146 assists for 290 points in 193 career games.

WHL Plus-Minus Award
WINNER: Oliver Bjorkstrand – Portland Winterhawks (+60)