The BCHL announced the nominees for the annual league awards on Thursday which was the result of each team’s coach casting a vote for their picks to reveal the nominees. The coach’s will go through a second round of voting to determine the winners for each award as it was narrowed down to one player from each division which will be awarded next week before the playoffs.
I thought I’d try my hand at predicting the award winners and also give my picks for each of the awards and give some insight on my selections. I’ll pick a player from each division and pick a winner from my selections and also try and predict the winner from the BCHL’s official picks.
Most Valuable Player (Vern Dye Memorial Trophy):
- Interior: Mat Robson (Penticton Vees)
- Mainland: Brendan Harris (Wenatchee Wild)
- Island: Matthew Galajda (Victoria Grizzles)
Winner from my picks: Mat Robson (Penticton Vees)
Prediction on BCHL winner: Brendan Harris (Wenatchee Wild)
It’s hard to argue with the BCHL’s selection of nominees for the MVP award and I agree fully on the pick but I think the winner for this award should be Vees netminder Mat Robson, and not just given his (and his team’s) dominance of the Warriors this season but he has been in the top three in the league in every big statistical category this season. My opinion is that the winner will be Brendan Harris from Wenatchee because of his strong year with assists and being possibly the best playmaker in the league along with the fact that a goalie hasn’t won a MVP award since Mitch Gilliam did in Chilliwack in 2013. But if there was a year for a goalie to win award, this would be it with Harris nearing 100 points, likely to get there this weekend, but still not at the points totals we’ve seen in year’s past.
Rookie of the Year (Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy):
- Interior: Grant Cruikshank (Penticton Vees)
- Mainland: Brendan Budy (Langley Rivermen)
- Island: Cam Donaldson (Powell River Kings)
Winner from my picks: Brendan Budy (Langley Rivermen)
Prediction on BCHL winner: Cam Donaldson (Powell River Kings)
I have one change in my nominees and again in the winners of this award but rookie of the year is always such a tough one for me. No disrespect to Cam Donaldson (who I ultimately think will win the award) but having an 18-year-old win the award is a bit of a stretch on the term rookie. I know it’s classified as the player playing his first year of junior ‘A’ hockey but there are some 97’s and 96’s on the rookie’s list which is crazy to me. Zach Risteau is having a fantastic season for the Cents but I think Grant Cruikshank should have been the Interior Division nominee as his 30+ goals speaks for itself but the ultimate winner of this award should be Langley’s Brendan Budy. The 16-year-old has had a standout season with 44 points and being so young, it makes all the sense in the world to award him as the league’s best rookie.
Top Defenseman Trophy:
- Interior: Michael Ufberg (Vernon Vipers)
- Mainland: Tyler Anderson (Prince George Spruce Kings)
- Island: Jake Stevens (Victoria Grizzlies)
Winner from my picks: Tyler Anderson (Prince George Spruce Kings)
Prediction on BCHL winner: Tyler Anderson (Prince George Spruce Kings)
Just like the MVP nominees, it’s tough to argue the nominees put up for defenseman of the year although I’m a bit surprised not to see Vees D-man Griffin Mendel nominated but I agree that Ufberg is the right pick. I think Tyler Anderson may be one of the most improved players in the league from his time when he got to the Warriors from last season to now as his offensive side has flourished in PG and I feel like many coaches will agree and reward him with the honour and it would be deserving for a kid who’s had a fantastic year so far. He’s had plenty of accomplishments in leading the league goals from a d-man and committing to Lake Superior State a couple of weeks which I believe will be capped off with a big piece of hardware.
Most Sportsmanlike Player (Bob Fenton Trophy)
- Interior: Michael Regush (Merritt Centennials)
- Mainland: Darius Davidson (Surrey Eagles)
- Island: Jake Stevens (Victoria Grizzlies)
Winner from my picks: Jake Stevens (Victoria Grizzlies)
Prediction from BCHL winner: Brendan Harris (Wenatchee Wild)
I feel that this is an award that could be handed out to some teams and some players that haven’t gotten much recognition in the awards voting, although it’s tough to argue with picks like Donaldson and Harris who only have 14 PIMS each this season. I think Jake Stevens would be a great selection especially the fact that he’s a defenseman and plays plenty of minutes and hard minutes against some teams best lines and only has 14 PIMS this season. That’s pretty impressive. But my feel is that Brendan Harris will win the award given that he’s the leading scorer in the league but I think it’s something that should change down the road in regards to voting.
Coach of the Year:
- Interior: Cam Keith (Trail Smoke Eaters)
- Mainland: Bobby Henderson (Langley Rivermen)
- Island: Craig Didmon (Victoria Grizzlies)
Winner from my picks: Cam Keith (Trail Smoke Eaters)
Prediction from BCHL winner: Bliss Littler (Wenatchee Wild)
My picks differ a bit from the BCHL’s which I don’t think there’s any question that Craig Didmon should be nominated in the Island because of the work he’s done with the Grizzlies this season. In the Mainland, Bobby Henderson’s Langley Rivermen are going to be a stiff test for Chilliwack in the opening round of the playoffs and I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he’s done with that team this season. I know Bliss Littler has done a fantastic job with the Wild this season and they sit 1st in the BCHL (why I think he will win the award) but Wenatchee had plenty of help returning from last year where Langley didn’t have as much in the way of returnees, not to mention the caliber of returning players Wenatchee got back. The biggest difference in selections that I have is in the Interior. There’s no doubt Fred Harbinson has done a great job with the Vees this season but Cam Keith should get as much credit for what he’s done with the Smoke Eaters, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. He’s got them playing terrific hockey and would make as a great pick for coach of the year.