Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
Saanich, BC (ISN) – The Saanich Braves Junior B Hockey Club handed out their annual awards Sunday night with goaltender Tanner Mc Gaw leading the pack as the team’s Most Valuable Player.
After one of their most successful seasons in some time, finishing second in the VIJHL, the Saanich Braves Junior B Hockey Club held a formal awards banquet to honor the top players of the year, but also to offer recognition to the many volunteers, parents, billets and others behind the scenes that help make the team run.
Following a catered dinner at the Braefoot Community Centre, Owner and General Manager of the team Norm Kelly kicked off the evening’s events by acknowledging the many volunteers and others behind the scenes that make the team a success.
Of note here were Krysha Pereverzoff and Brynn Bicknell the team trainers, who kept the players in top physical shape through the course of the year and who dealt with injuries and illnesses when they occurred and who probably spent more time at the rink than any of the players or coaches.
Also of note were Jimmy Hansen and John Zupanc who were awarded the Most Dedicated Volunteer Award by donor John Bradford. Jimmy is well known as Saanich’s timekeeper extraordinaire and John is a regular figure at Brave games, helping with security and other aspects of game day operation.
Jimmy Hansen (right) receives the Most Dedicated Volunteer Award from donor John Bradford (left). Hansen shared the award with John Zupanc who was absent.
On the player awards side, Sam Johnston and Sheldon Trees kicked things off by co-winning the Keg Steakhouse Iron Man Award.
Sam Johnston (left) and Sheldon Trees (right) receive the Iron Man Award from Head Coach Brad Cook (centre).
First year player Shawn McBride took home the Sienna Financial Services Unsung Hero Award and was doubly honoured later when he was presented with the Great Pacific Mortgage and Investment Student Athlete Award.
Shawn McBride (right), here receiving the Unsung Hero Award from Coach Brad Cook, also received the Student Athlete Award Sunday night.
Brad Cook presented the Elite Sports Coaches Award to goaltender Bowman Rutledge and applauded Rutledge for the role he played on the team this season, noting “Bowman knew what his role would be coming to the team and he did everything we asked of him and more. He was an ideal teammate to everyone, and an obvious choice for this award.”
Goaltender Bowman Rutledge (left) receives the Coaches Award from Brad Cook (right) and Norm Kelly (centre).
A pair of defencemen headlined the next two awards, with Tyler Smith earning the Country Grocer Most Improved Player Award and Liam Sproule earning the Royal LePage Realty Top Defenceman Award.
Defenceman Tyler Smith (left) took home the Most Improved Player Award.
Defenceman Liam Sproule (left) was awarded the Top Defenceman Award by Scott Munro (right) of Royal LePage Realty.
A solid performance in the VIJHL playoffs, including five goals in the series against Peninsula, was key for Sam McMullen, who was awarded the Norm Kelly Consulting Top Playoff Performer Award.
Sam McMullen (left) receives the Top Playoff Performer Award from Brad Cook (right) and Norm Kelly (centre).
16 year-old Rookie Jack Palmer, who finished the regular season in 6th place overall in VIJHL scoring with 24 goals and 29 assists, was awarded the Mike Geric Construction Rookie of the Year Award, and most likely will be taking that award with him to the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL where he is projected to be playing next season.
Jack Palmer (left) receives the Rookie of the Year Award from Ed Geric (centre) and Norm Kelly (right).
Another VIJHL top scorer, Ty Jones, who was the co-winner of the VIJHL scoring title, received the Dennis Ferrill Memorial Top Scorer Award for his outstanding season where he finished with 34 goals and 41 assists for 75 points overall, playing in just 34 of the Brave’s 42 games.
Ty Jones (left) is presented with the Top Scorer Award from Sharon Ferrill (centre) and Ed Geric (right).
Finally, stalwart goaltender Tanner McGaw, who played in 35 of the Braves 42 games and logged 2,018 minutes of time to lead the league in that category during the regular season, was named the Slegg Lumber Most Valuable Player. McGaw finished the season with a 3.33 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.
Goaltender Tanner McGaw (left) receive’s the MVP award from Slegg Lumber’s George Westwood (right).
The Braves also acknowledged their graduating players this season, James Kellington, Nick Vanstone, Jean-Luc Fournier and Adam Wade and noted that as part of the Brave’s 45 year anniversary next season, these players, as well as various other Saanich Brave alumni will be invited back in September for a special on-ice ceremony to kick off another exciting season of Saanich Braves Junior Hockey.
The Brave’s graduating players pose with the coaches. From left to right: Nate Forster (coach), Adam Wade, Ryan Toporowski (coach), James Kellington, Brad Cook (coach), Nick Vanstone and Jean-Luc Fournier.