The Western Hockey League held its annual WHL Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, April 30th, in Calgary, AB, honoring the top performances from the 2013-14 WHL regular season.
Here are the 2013-14 WHL Award Winners:
WHL Player of the Year – Four Broncos Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Sam Reinhart – Kootenay Ice
The Ice’s captain, Reinhart scored 36 goals and 69 assists for 105 points along with a +24 rating in 60 games. Reinhart’s 105 points tied him for fourth in WHL scoring while his 69 assists placed him second among all WHL players and established a new Kootenay Ice record for assists in a single season. In addition, Reinhart led the Ice with six game-winning goals and two shorthanded goals. Reinhart’s consistency during the 2013-14 regular season was remarkable as he was held off the score sheet just nine times, was only held without a point in back-to-back games once, and enjoyed a WHL-best 22-game point streak. Reinhart’s importance to Kootenay’s success this season is evident in the fact that he factored in on 45% of his team’s entire offensive output, and that the Ice lost all nine games in which he dressed but failed to register a point.
RUNNER UP: Mitch Holmberg – Spokane Chiefs
WHL Rookie of the Year - Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Nick Merkley – Kelowna Rockets
A product of Calgary, AB, Merkley made a big impact in his first seasons with the Rockets. The 16-year-old center scored 25 goals and 33 assists for 58 points in 66 games, finishing tied for fifth on the Rockets and third among all WHL rookies in scoring. His 25 goals and 58 points led all 16-year-old players while his +24 rating placed him sixth among first-year players. Selected by the Rockets in the first round, ninth overall, in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft, Merkley also scored four game-winning goals during the 2013-14 season, tying him for first among rookies. Merkley is eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft.
RUNNER UP: Nikita Scherbak – Saskatoon Blades
WHL Goaltender of the Year - Del Wilson Trophy
WINNER: Jordon Cooke – Kelowna Rockets
Cooke enjoyed an outstanding season for the WHL’s top team this year, posting a 39-7-0-4 record with four shutouts in 51 appearances. The 20-year-old from Leduc, AB, finished second among WHL netminders with a 2.28 goals-against average, fourth with a .922 save percentage, and second with 39 victories while helping the Rockets finish in first place in the overall WHL standings. Cooke’s consistent season saw him lose back-to-back starts on just two occasions while putting together a string of 13 straight victories from November 22 to January 4. Selected by Kelowna in the fourth round, 79th overall, in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, Cooke was named Vaughn WHL Goalie of the Month for September/October. Cooke is a free agent.
RUNNER UP: Tristan Jarry – Edmonton Oil Kings
WHL Defenseman of the Year - Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Derrick Pouliot – Portland Winterhawks
Weyburn, SK, native Derrick Pouliot enjoyed another excellent season for the Winterhawks, helping them to their second straight U.S. Division title. The 19-year-old scored 17 goals and added 53 assists for 70 points in 58 games, putting him sixth on the Winterhawks and third among all WHL defencemen in scoring. Pouliot’s 53 assists placed him third among WHL defencemen while his +40 rating tied him for 13th among all WHL players. The first overall pick from the 2009 WHL Bantam Draft, Pouliot earned a spot on the WHL Western Conference First All-Star Team this season. Pouliot was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, eighth overall, in the 2012 NHL Draft.
RUNNER UP: Josh Morrissey – Prince Albert Raiders
WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year - Brad Hornung Trophy
WINNER: Sam Reinhart - Kootenay Ice
A product of Vancouver, B.C., Reinhart was a star on the ice for the Kootenay Ice this season, leading the team and finishing tied for fourth in WHL scoring with 105 points, including 36 goals, in 60 games while helping the team to a WHL-record 15th consecutive season with a record of .500 or better. As a key contributor in all situations for the Ice, Reinhart logged plenty of minutes. Yet, the 18-year-old drew just 11 minutes in penalties on three minor infractions and one major infraction. A highly skilled player, Reinhart has earned the respect of his teammates and opponents not only for his talent but for his level of sportsmanship. Selected in the first round, 15th overall, in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft, Reinhart is considered one of the top prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft.
RUNNER UP: Mitch Holmberg – Spokane Chiefs
WHL Scholastic Player of the Year – Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Nelson Nogier – Saskatoon Blades
17-year-old Saskatoon Blades defenceman Nelson Nogier may have had his 2013-14 season cut short due to injury, but that didn’t slow him down when it came to academic success. The Saskatoon, SK, product completed his first semester of Grade 12 with a remarkable 96% average while taking four core courses after having finished his Grade 11 year with a 96.6% average, including a perfect 100% in Math Foundations 20. Expected to graduate with Great Distinction, Nogier has already completed the application process for the University of Saskatchewan next year. The Blades’ fourth-round pick, 71st overall, in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, Nogier also performed well on the ice, netting a goal and six points in 37 games this season. Nogier is eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.
RUNNER UP: Dominick Turgeon – Portland Winterhawks
WHL Humanitarian of the Year – Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Sam Fioretti – Moose Jaw Warriors
In his fourth and final season in the WHL, Sam Fioretti made a big impact both on the ice and in the community for the Moose Jaw Warriors. The 20-year-old from Calgary, AB, and captain of the Warriors made it a goal to help educate Moose Jaw & Area students about bullying and to educate them about the importance of physical activity. Fioretti was a driving force behind the Warriors’ partnership with the Moose Jaw Police Service that saw him and others visit schools to speak out against bullying. He also played a big role in the development of the ‘Warriors Workouts’ program in which he and other members of the Club visit schools to spread a positive message about maintaining an active lifestyle and healthy eating. A strong advocate for education, Fioretti was also a key participant in the Club’s CIBC Read to Succeed program.
RUNNER UP: Mitch Topping – Tri-City Americans
WHL Coach of the Year - Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Dave Lowry – Victoria Royals
In his second season as head coach of the Victoria Royals, Dave Lowry helped lead the Club to its best regular-season performance in franchise history, posting an impressive 48-20-1-3 record for 100 points and a third-place finish in the Western Conference. Under Lowry’s guidance, the Royals skated to the fourth-best road record in the WHL and the WHL’s second-best defensive record, having allowed just 181 goals. Under Lowry, the Royals boasted one of the most balanced attacks in the League with six players who reached the 20-goal mark. Lowry’s Royals were also a model of consistency during the season, losing back-to-back games on only four occasions.
RUNNER UP: Shaun Clouston – Medicine Hat Tigers
WHL Executive of the Year - Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Cam Hope – Victoria Royals
In his second season as general manager for the Victoria Royals, Cam Hope’s Club smashed several franchise records, including wins and points in a season with their 48-20-1-3 record and 100 points. Under Hope’s management, the Royals improved their win total by 13 and their point total by 23 from the 2012-13 season while also reducing their goals-against by a whopping 71 goals. In addition to helping develop a stable of young players such as Tyler Soy, Chaz Reddekopp and Jack Walker, Hope also bolstered his Club’s roster by acquiring impact players such as Axel Blomqvist and Travis Brown.
RUNNER UP: Mike Moore – Calgary Hitmen
WHL Marketing/Business Award
WINNER: Seattle Thunderbirds
The Seattle Thunderbirds have made significant strides forward in their performance from a business and marketing perspective during the 2013-14 WHL regular season. A competitive team on the ice and a focus on increasing awareness and interest in the Club within the community has resulted in a 9.7% increase in attendance, which marks the biggest increase of any WHL Club. Additionally, the Thunderbirds have focused on strengthening their relationship with local media by facilitating the sharing of highlight packages and audio with media, resulting in an increased media presence. The Thunderbirds continue to be heavily involved in the community, raising funds and awareness for a variety of organizations, including helping raise $200,000 for Seattle Ronald McDonald House through the 2014 Hockey Challenge, while their partnership with Communities in Schools of Kent allows players to become positive mentors to school-aged kids.
RUNNER UP: Regina Pats
WHL Scholastic Team of the Year
WINNER: Calgary Hitmen
The Calgary Hitmen provided an exemplary model of scholastic excellence for their players this year. Eight high school players passed all diploma exams and are successfully proceeding to graduation, and all High School graduate roster players successfully completed their university course in the fall, with five of those continuing with a second course through Athabasca University during the winter semester. Of the Club’s two European players, one was engaged in English as a second language while the other to a course at St Mary’s University. Communication with other League Education Advisors allowed Hitmen Education Advisor Bernie Bajnok to keep traded players on track through to successful completion of courses. The Hitmen organization also provides extensive academic support and resources to their players, including a number of retired teachers available to provide tutoring services to support diploma prep courses, assignment completion and exam preparation. Hitmen players are also provided media training, post-secondary orientations, professional hockey and career information and presentations from Hitmen graduates.
WHL Top Official – Allen Paradice Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Nathan Wieler
Nathan Wieler is in his 15th season as an official in the Western Hockey League. The 35-year-old from Regina, SK, has been refereeing in the WHL for the past eight years, having established himself as one of the League’s top officials. His commitment to officiating has helped him develop all the skills necessary to be successful, including composure and confidence, strong communications skills, and excellent judgment. Wieler’s impressive officiating resume includes working the last three consecutive WHL Championship series’ and representing the WHL at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup, including working the final game. He has also worked three RBC Cups and two CIS National Championships, and several international assignments, including the World Junior ‘A’ Championship.
WHL Regular Season Champion - Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy
WINNER: Kelowna Rockets
The Rockets posted a 57-11-0-4 record for 118 points in 72 games this season, finishing first overall for the first time since the 2003-04 season. During the 2013-14 regular season, the Rockets set franchise records for wins and points in a single season, and tied a WHL record by posting 29 wins on the road, including a stretch of 16 straight road victories from October 25, 2013 – January 3, 2014. The Rockets also won 28 games on home ice this season. The Rockets finished five points ahead of their nearest competitor in the standings, and finished with an 18-point lead for first place in the B.C. Division. During the regular season, the Rockets finished second overall in goals with 310, and finished third overall in goals-against, having allowed just 182.
WHL Top Scorer - Bob Clarke Trophy
WINNER: Mitch Holmberg – Spokane Chiefs
A 20-year-old from Sherwood Park, AB, Holmberg scored 62 goals and 56 assists for 118 points in 72 games during the 2013-14 WHL regular season, becoming the first member of the Spokane Chiefs to lead the League in scoring since Ray Whitney in 1990-91. He led all WHL players in goals with 62, power play goals with 23, and finished tied for second with six shorthanded goals. He also shared the League lead with 10 game-winning goals this season. Having opened the 2013-14 season with a 17-game point streak, Holmberg only twice went more than two games without registering a point this season. He recorded 37 multiple-point games and 19 multiple-goal games, including six hat tricks. Drafted by Spokane in the first round, 21st overall, in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, Holmberg has played five seasons for the Spokane Chiefs, amassing a franchise-record 147 goals while adding 149 assists for 296 points in 314 career games.