Two Yorkton Terriers were among the nominees when the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) announced the finalists for five CJHL National Awards.
The CJHL National Awards are awarded each season and recognize individual success in the 10 Junior A leagues in the CJHL. They include Most Valuable Player, Top Forward, Top Defenceman, Top Goaltender and Rookie of the Year.
Terrier blueliner Chase Norrish and netminder Kale Thomson were both among the finalists.
“Congratulations to this year’s CJHL National Award winners and to all of the nominees and finalists across our 10 leagues,” said Kirk Lamb, President of the Canadian Junior Hockey League in a release. “These players represent the best of more than 2,800 Junior A hockey players and exhibit the right mix of commitment, discipline and skill it takes to be an elite student-athlete in today’s game.”
When the awards were announced, Trey Phillips of the Canmore Eagles (AJHL) was the recipient of the 2014 CJHL Top Defenceman Award.
Phillips averaged 1.12 points per game to lead the Eagles in scoring, including 12 power play goals and 4 game winning goals, on his way to winning the AJHL MVP and Outstanding Defenceman.
Norrish said he is just proud of the nomination.
“That’s something I didn’t expect,” said the Terrier rearguard who was 11th in league scoring, and the SJHL’s top scoring rearguard with nine-goals and 45-points. He was also named Defenceman of the Year in the SJHL. “It felt pretty special. It boosts your confidence up a little bit.”
Norrish said to be among five finalists is still a huge honour.
“There’s a lot of great players out there so it feels pretty good to be in the mix with them,” he said.
The CJHL nomination comes after the SJHL award, a second straight league title, a Western Canada cup and now the RBC for Norrish.
“You couldn’t ask for anything better as a 20-year-old year,” he said during a break at the RBC in Vernon. “It’s something I’m never going to forget … They don’t happen very often.”
Sharing the experience with twin brother Brady has added to the amazing season.
“Getting to share it with family is always a great thing,” he said, adding that while he and Brady are competitive, they also help make each other better. “He always pushes me to be the best I can be, and I try to do the same for him.”
The winner of the 2014 CJHL Top Goaltender Award is Tanner Jaillet of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons (AJHL).
Jaillet opened the 2013-2014 season with 10 consecutive wins and 13 games without a regulation loss on his way to being named the 2013-2014 AJHL Top Goaltender. He was tied for first overall in the AJHL with a .933 save percentage and was second among all AJHL goaltenders with a 2.01 GAA. Jaillet also recorded a league leading six shutouts.
Thomson, like Norrish, appreciates being a finalist.
“It’s a huge honour,” he said, adding there are 127 teams in the CJHL, “and each team has two goaltenders.
“I’m not too good at math but that’s a lot of guys for me to be recognized ahead of and to be mentioned as one of the best Junior goaltenders is pretty great.”
Thomson appeared in an SJHL high 45-games, finishing with a league-best 31 wins, and a league regular season record eight shut-outs breaking the old mark of seven set by Taylor Nelson and Thomson’s career mark of 10 shutouts ties him with Nelson for second overall behind former Weyburn Red Wing AJ Whiffen, who posted 11 in his career. He posted a 1.89 goals against average in the regular season. and a .934 save percentage.
The 20-year-old Terrier netminder said the national nomination is gratifying after having to battle his first two seasons with the Terriers for playing time.
“I’ve kind of had to earn everything in this league (SJHL) to get to this point, and that’s the way it should be,” said Thomson. “You’ve just got to kind of stick it out.”
Thomson said at 18, as a rookie “you have to earn your ice time. You have to earn the trust from your coaches.”
As a third-year veteran this season Thomson said it all came together for him, adding “definitely the hard work paid off.”
As for the remaining awards, the winner of the 2014 CJHL MVP Award and the 2014 CJHL Top Forward Award was Andy Sturtz of the Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL).
“In his first CCHL season, Sturtz burst on to the scene with 51 goals and 104 point season. This resulted in him earning the CCHL MVP Award for 2013 - 2014. Sturtz was first in the CCHL in game winning goals with 14, showing how important he was to the success of the Carleton Place Canadians. He was second in power play goals with 16 and seventh in power play assists with 19. His play earned him considerable attention from university and college scouts across Canada and the United States and he has committed to Penn State University.,” stated the CJHL release.
The co-recipients of the 2014 CJHL Rookie of the Year Award are Jake Walman of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL) and Chris Gerrie of the Olds Grizzlys (AJHL).
“Walman a 17-year old defenceman was one of the biggest surprises on the Jr. Canadiens blueline this season and shot up the NHL scouting radar throughout the course of his rookie OJHL season,” stated the release.
“Gerrie led all AJHL rookies in goals, assists and points and was second in team scoring with an average of 0.9 points per game. His 19 powerplay assists placed him among the top-three AJHL scorers. Gerrie was a unanimous choice for the 2013-2014 AJHL All-Rookie team and was named the 2013-2014 AJHL Rookie of the Year.”
Each of the 10 leagues in the CJHL submitted a candidate for all of the CJHL National Awards. Each league then ranked their top five players from among the 10 national nominees and the five players with the highest point total moved on as finalists to the final round of voting. The winners were then selected.