photo via Target Photography
On Saturday, the Sherwood Park Crusaders will hand out their player awards for the 17/18 season, so here at BTI we decided to take a stab at our own version of the awards:
LIAM HORROBIN: Ty Readman
It’s really unfortunate that Readman missed those 11 games due to injury; I truly believe he would’ve lead the entire AJHL in points he hadn’t. He has played the fewest games out of the Top-20 scorers in the league and currently sits in 13th with 64 points. Readman also leads the league in powerplay assists with 23. The Northern Michigan commit is the best player on the Crusaders, you could make the argument that he is the best player in the AJHL. Ty Readman is my pick for MVP.
TYLER YAREMCHUK: Dylan Stewart
There are honestly three or four different players who could be considered most valuable to this team, which speaks to their depth. But you have to score goals to win, and no one produced more than Dylan Stewart. The big forward could play on the wing or down the middle and still produce. His 65 points tied for the team lead and for 10th in the AJHL. He was consistent and clutch and he’s my pick for MVP.
Honourable Mentions: Brandon Vogel & Ryan Cox
LIAM: Ben McLeod
Without Ben McLeod, the Crusaders defence would be shaky at best. The veteran defenceman brings a hard-hitting style to the lineup and this year he’s been able to develop his offensive side, hitting career highs in all offensive categories. When McLeod is on the sidelines his absence is well known. He’s also been a great mentor for the Crusaders young defenceman like Michael Bentz, Aiden Yakimchuk, and Payton McIsaac. He may have missed a good chunk of games this season but McLeod is still my pick for the defenceman of the year.
TYLER: Brendan Kallis
There’s lots to like about Kallis. He plays a calm game that allows him to have success with younger, inexperienced partners. Not only is he solid in his own end, but he can move the puck up the ice efficiently and holds his own in the offensive end. Don’t forget that he didn’t miss a single game this season either. Kallis was Mr. Reliable for this year’s Crusaders d-core.
Honourable Mentions: Tyler Jette
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
LIAM: Brandon Vogel
Sometimes you forget that Brandon Vogel is only a rookie. He’s seen a lot of starts this season due to injuries, WHL call-ups, and also great performances. There has been a number of times this year that Vogel has stolen games for this Crusaders team. Vogel has played more than any other rookie goaltender in the league, and while his numbers may not be the greatest, they don’t reflect how well he has played this season. The Crusaders have set themselves up nicely for years to come with him between the pipes.
TYLER: William Zapernick
Zapernick finished fourth in team scoring and was a versatile piece for the Cru. Not only did he see a little time on the powerplay, he also chipped in two shorthanded points. I was very impressed with the 16-year-old Edmonton product.
Honourable Mentions: Garrett Clegg & Tyler Jette
LIAM: Michael Bentz
Michael Bentz has come a long way since the start of the regular season. You can see he plays which much more confidence now and has become one of the Crusaders most reliable defencemen. He constantly has head down the ice and looks to spring his teammates on breakaways often. Bentz has also become a hard-nosed player and will stick up for himself and his teammate no matter the opposition. I am really looking forward to watching him develop even more next season.
TYLER: Brandon Wallis
The season isn’t quite over yet, and Wallis has already doubled his point total. This year he’s proven that not only can he contribute to the teams bottom six, but he can slide up the lineup and has the ability to play with the teams more skilled players. I was pleasantly surprised with Wallis’ growth this season.
Honourable Mentions: Payton McIsaac & Ashton Casault
MOMENT OF THE YEAR
LIAM: The Ryan Cox Trade.
On November 1st, the Sherwood Park Crusaders squired Ryan Cox from the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in exchange for Merritt Oszytko. He came into the organization a filled a massive hole for this team: a true goal scorer. Since joining the Cru, Cox has 52 points in 41 games which includes 29 goals with four being game winners. The addition of Cox has to be one of the best trades made across the league this season.
TYLER: Comeback vs Bonnyville (Dec. 10)
The Cru scored two goals in the final ten minutes which set the stage for Dylan Stewart’s overtime winner. The win was Sherwood Parks second in a row and sparked a 6-2-0 run that saw them lose a pair of close games to Spruce Grove and Fort MacMurray. That run was the most confident I saw the team all year, and it was all sparked by the comeback win against the Pontiacs.