Hockey Now Announces Minor Hockey Player of the Year Awards


NORTH VANCOUVER, B.C. (ISN) – Hockey Now announced Monday that Mathew Barzal (Burnaby Winter Club Bantam AAA) and Jansen Harkins (North Shore Winter Club Bantam AAA) are the co-winners of the 2012 Hockey Now Minor Hockey Player of the Year Award.

The honour is handed-out annually to a B.C. minor hockey player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, leadership, hockey ability & performance, and school & community participation. A committee established by Hockey Now reviews applications and selects the winner.

Barzal (a 15-year-old born May 26, 1997) was the first overall selection of the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft. The 5-10, 160-pound centre from Coquitlam had 55 goals and 153 points in 51 games, this season. Barzal captained his BWC Bantam AAA team to a dominant season, highlighted by a Western Canadian Bantam Championship (his second in two years); his team also captured two high-profile Bantam tournament titles: Medicine Hat and L.A. Selects. Individually, Barzal shined seemingly everywhere he went: Top Forward at Westerns, MVP at L.A. Selects, Game MVP in the final of Medicine Hat (where he scored the game-winning goal), and First All-Star at the prestigious St. Albert tournament. At the 2011 Western Bantams, Barzal tied BWC alum Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ record of 14 points as a first-year Bantam. Off-the-ice, Mathew is enrolled in French Immersion at Dr. Charles Best Secondary (Coquitlam) and has a strong Grade 9 report card, including a 94 per cent final grade in Math. Barzal is fluent in French and often tutors younger students. He also works as a minor hockey referee. Up next for Barzal is the NHLPA’s Allstate All-Canadians Mentorship Camp in Toronto, July 17 to 21. Next season, Barzal will play in the B.C. Major Midget League.

Harkins, whose father Todd played in the NHL (Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames), was the second overall selection of the Prince George Cougars in this year’s WHL Bantam Draft. The North Vancouver-native (born three days before Barzal, May 23, 1997) scored 83 goals and 153 points in 74 games played, this year. Harkins captained his NSWC Bantam AAA team to the finals of three elite-level Bantam tournaments: a tournament title in Chilliwack and second-place in Kamloops and St. Albert. Individually, the 5-11, 150-pound centre was named MVP in Medicine Hat and Top Scorer in Kamloops. In school, Harkins has an excellent Grade 9 report card from Seycove Secondary (North Vancouver) with A’s in Math, Science, and Social Studies. Meanwhile, Jansen and his family are heavily involved in raising funds and awareness for MPS, a rare genetic disorder that Jansen’s older brother was diagnosed with. Since 2003, the family’s MPS Cup Fantasy Hockey Game & Gala has raised $800,000 for the Canadian MPS Society. This summer, Harkins will join his long-time friend Barzal at the NHLPA Mentorship Camp—the two met in Novice when their team won the renowned Brick Super Novice Tournament. Next season, Harkins will play Major Midget with the Vancouver NW Giants.

Barzal and Harkins will formally receive their award at the BC Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton, July 27. The Hall of Fame induction class of 2012 includes Scott Niedermayer, Rod Brind’Amour, Scott Carter, Bob Hindmarch, and Jim Hughson.

The Hockey Now Minor Hockey Player of the Year Award was established in 2000 when it was won by Colin Fraser (Los Angeles Kings). Below is a full list of past winners…

2011 – Joseph Hicketts, Okanagan Hockey Academy Midget Prep

2010 – Curtis Lazar, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL

2009 – Griffin Reinhart*, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL

2009 – Morgan Rielly*, Moose Jaw Warriors, WHL

2008 – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers, NHL

2007 – Kevin Sundher, Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL

2006 – Stefan Elliot, Colorado Avalanche, NHL (and AHL affiliate)

2005 – Geordie Wudrick, U. of New Brunswick Varsity Reds, CIS

2004 – Dustin Sylvester, Abbotsford Heat, AHL

2003 – Karl Alzner, Washington Capitals, NHL

2002 – Gilbert Brule*, Phoenix Coyotes, NHL

2002 – Brock Bradford*, Charlotte Checkers, ECHL (2009/10)

2001 – Tyler Burton, Bossier-Sreveport Mudbugs, CHL (2010/11)

2000 – Colin Fraser, Los Angeles Kings, NHL

*denotes co-winner

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.