The Western Hockey League (WHL) came into Red Deer for their annual Awards event, which the City is hosting alongside the WHL Bantam Draft through 2020.
“We are so impressed with the work that was done here in 2016 with the Mastercard Memorial Cup,” WHL Commissioner Ron Robison said. “We were looking for an opportunity, if something came up, to return to Red Deer.
“We have added the Awards and the WHL Bantam Draf for the next three years and we also have the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game coming as well next January.”
Robison said the league is delighted to come to a community that has continually been supportive of both the WHL and the Red Deer Rebels.
“They have embraced anything we have brought in from a league standpoint and we are very excited about these events over the next three years,” he said. “The response from the community has been excellent and we think we can really build on it and make it even more successful.”
The WHL Awards are an opportunity to recognize the significant achievement of players and staff throughout the league.
“These players need to be recognized in a first-class fashion,” Robison said.
Notable award winners include: Lethbridge Hurricane Dylan Cozens, who took home the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy for the WHL’s Rookie of the Year; Moose Jaw Warrior Kale Clague, who took home the Bill Hunter Memorial award for the WHL’s Defencemen of the Year: and Moose Jaw Warrior Jayden Halbewachs, who took home the Bob Clarke Trophy, which goes to the WHL’s Top Scorer.
The big winner of the event was Everett Silvertip Goaltender Carter Hart, who won the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the WHL Player of the Year, and the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy, which goes to the WHL’s Goaltender of the Year.
Hart won the awards after leading the league in goals-against-average (1.60), save percentage (.947), winning a gold medal at the World Juniors for Canada and leading the Silvertips to the WHL final — which kicked off May 4th.
“It is a huge honour and it goes to show what we have been doing down in Everett this year and the team we have,” Hart said. “We are in the league finals now and we have went on a great run so far. We are hoping to keep it going throughout the month of May.”
This is the furthest one of Hart’s teams have made it in the WHL playoffs.
“To get this far is pretty cool. We haven’t got this far before and I know we are all excited,” he said, added it has been a tough season for him after only playing 41 games this year due to illness and the World Juniors.
“You never want to go out with mono but at the same time, it gave me some rest and made me hungry to get back,” he said. “I was excited to get back and as soon as I got back, we started playing really good hockey.”
He added winning Goaltender of the the year is, “A huge honour as well. There are some good goalies in this league and to get that award again is a huge honour. I work hard at my craft and I try to be the best I can at everything.”