Brandon, MB. – The Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings were well represented this week when the Brandon Sun unveiled its finalists for both the 59th annual H.L. (Krug) Crawford Memorial Award and the Mike Jones Westman Team of the Year.
While The Wheat Kings, who captured their first WHL Championship in twenty years when they defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds last spring, were one of eight team nominees announced on Monday, three members of the club were among the twenty finalists for the individual honour, emblematic of sporting excellence in western Manitoba.
Joining the Wheat Kings as Team nominees were the Yellowhead Female Midget Chiefs, Vincent Massey’s Team Westman Golf team, the Neelin Spartans basketball and volleyball squads, the Brandon University Bobcats soccer team as well as baseball’s Wawanesa Brewers, Oak River Bearcats and Brandon A & W Junior Marlins.
The winner will be unveiled in the January 2nd edition of The Brandon Sun.
Meanwhile Kelly McCrimmon, Nolan Patrick and Ivan Provorov are among the twenty finalists up for Sportsman of the Year.
Owner and Governor of the Wheat Kings, McCrimmon is the winningest coach in franchise history and led the club to its third WHL Title in 2016. The 56-year old native of Plenty, Saskatchewan, who became the club’s ole owner in 2000, also served as an assistant coach for Team Canada at last year’s world junior hockey championship.
This past summer, McCrimmon was hired as the assistant general manager of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights in the National Hockey League.
The 2016 WHL Playoff Most Valuable Player, Patrick enjoyed a banner season in 2015-16, scoring 41 goals and 102 points, becoming the first 17-year old Wheat King in forty years to reach the century mark in points.
Limited to six games this season due to injury, Patrick is expected to be an early first round pick in this June’s NHL Draft.
Provorov meanwhile enjoyed two stellar seasons in Brandon, before joining the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers this season. He was third in team scoring last season and led all WHL defencemen with 73 points, including 21 goals and was tops in the league with a plus-minus of +64.
In addition to being named the top defenceman in both the WHL and Canadian Hockey League, he helped to lead his native Russia to back to back silver medals at the world junior hockey championship.
Among the other finalists is current Brandon blueliner Zach Wytinck. However, the Glenboro product wasn’t recognized for his hockey exploits. Instead, it was what he did on the golf course that earned him a place among the elite. He placed second in the Manitoba men’s amateur golf qualifier in Winnipeg after shooting an even par 71. He then went on to capture the provincial junior men’s title by ten strokes.
McCrimmon, Patrick and Prorovov were three of six hockey figures to be recognized. Joining them were Elkhorn’s Brad Bowles of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Portage Terriers, current Red Deer Rebels’ netminder Riley Lamb of Rivers and 17-year old Deloraine product Ashton Bell, who helped lead Canada to a silver medal at the under-17 world women’s hockey championship.
The remaining finalists include an Olympic athlete, a coach, a 2-sport athlete and others representing a multitude of sports, ranging from trapshooting, gold and archery to football, boxing and mixed martial arts.
Those sixteen finalists – in no particular order – include Vincent Massey and Crocus Plains football stars Mack Adams and Victor St. Pierre-Laviolette respectively, golfer Bobbi Uhl of Erickson, Rugby’s Emily Tuttosi of the University of Calgary Dinosours, 14-year old Archer Brody Wilson of Birtle, BU Bobcat Volleyballer Roy Ching, boxer Noel Harding, local MMA star Curtis Demarce, Virden track and field star Kaleigh Hole, Cypress River multi-sport star (volleyball and basketball) Matt Klassen, local trapshooter Pat Lomont as well as gymnast Isabela Onyshko and coach Lorie Henderson of the Brandon Eagles Gymnastics club.
An 18-year old Minnedosa product, who was recognized during one of the Wheat Kings’ regular season home games in October, Onyshko became the Canadian all-around gymnastics championship in 2016. She also made the Canadian Olympic team, becoming the first Olympian from Brandon in 24 years.
In order to be eligible for the individual honours, candidates must live in Westman during the season, or return home to reside in the region during the off-season.
On the ice, the Wheat Kings host two home games this week – Wednesday night vs Regina and Friday against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.