Prior to the game last night, the Winterhawks handed out their team awards.
Here are my awards:
While Nic Petan should get some notice here, Bjorkstrand's 63 goals and 118 total points led the WHL and were the most goals by a Winterhawk since Dennis Holland had 82 in 1988-89. It also put him in a 3 way tie for 7th in Winterhawks history with Try Mick and Ray Podloski.
The fact that Bjorkstrand got this done in just 59 games in a league that does not have the goal scoring output that it used to is even more impressive. He had 78 points after the World Juniors and only 40 before that, so suffice to say he found his way after the tournament. Oliver should probably win the WHL MVP as well.
Petan, Chase De Leo.
Rookie of the Year:
Though he may not have played so great at the end of the season, Hill's spectacular run from November 21st onward gets him this honor in my book. He had two shut outs and went 31-9-1 over that span and had ten 40+ save performances..
Blake Heinrich, Skyler McKenzie, Evan Weinger.
Best Trade Acquistion:
Acquired on 9/29 in exchange for a 2017 4th round pick. Koules ended with 26 goals and 32 assists for 58 points in 67 games with the Hawks. This was a career high for the winger who is also hoping for a career high in playoff points (he had 10 last year in 18 games).
Most Improved Player:
A #6, 7 or 8 D-man on the Winterhawks most of his career in Portland, Viveiros was thrust into the role of top D-man at the beginning of the season, while Anton Cederholm and Blake Heinrich were out of the lineup. He led the Hawks in scoring for awhile and ended with 8 goals and 35 assists for 43 points, more than double his previous career high (20). He also gradually improved at his defensive positioning, decision making and physical play. If you had told me at the beginning of the year the Hawks would be entering the playoffs with Viveiros running the point on the power play, I would not have believed you, but he has really excelled in this role as well.
Oliver Bjorktrand, Keoni Texeira, Dominic Turgeon.
Defenseman of the Year:
I really could have gone with Blake Heinrich as well, though he was not as consistent over the entirety of the season as Cederholm was. It's been really good to see that he has the ability to add some scoring to the mix, but won't get away from his game to do so.
Blake Heinrich, Layne Viveiros.
The speedy forward was somewhat of an unknown entering the season and showcased a lot of raw potential in the preseason and first month of the season, but was a little fast and loose defensively, leading to him moving down the roster. After Alex Schoenborn was injured, Weinger moved onto the line with Chase De Leo and Keegan Iverson and really blossomed. This season he notched 7 goals and 19 assists for 26 points in 61 games.
Skyler McKenzie, Adin Hill, Brendan De Jong.
-Missing 11 Players at NHL Camps to Start Season.
Portland played their first game without most of their players, meaning they had to add players like Joshua Smith and Travis McEvoy, just to fill out a roster.
Adding Bolton Pouliot without actually trading anyone for him.