Western Conference Award Winners – by C. Scott Holland
No matter what team you play for or volunteer with in the Western Conference of the GOJHL, consider yourself a winner!
It is certainly one of the best junior development leagues in North America and its diversity is shown via its annual awards ceremony which was held in Leamington on Monday night (Feb. 29th).
Like any awards ceremony, there were some non-surprises and many that may not have been expected. However everyone who garnered an award is certainly most deserving of it and there are just as many deserving players and volunteers who did not receive such an accolade this year.
Guest speaker for the night was Dr. Vern Stenlund, a former Western Jr. B player, NHLer, coach and esteemed author who has written several books plus teamed up with Bobby Orr to develop the Chevrolet Safe and Fun Hockey Program.
The biggest winner was Leamington Flyers’ sensational rookie goaltender Tyler Wall who took home four awards on the night while St. Thomas Stars’ forward Carson Brookshaw snared three of the prestigious honours.
The expected awards were: the Stan Moore Award for first-place which was awarded to the Leamington Flyers for third consecutive season; the Hugh McLean Top Regular Season Scorer which was taken by Lambton Shores Ethan Sarfati on the final night (Sunday). Sarfati nipped Chatham’s Ian Faubert by a single point as the two players battled each other for the title on the final evening. Sarfati entered the night with a 3-point lead. Faubert had a 5-point night against St. Marys but Sarfati put up three against Strathroy to claim the title. The Southerland Insurance Top Rookie Scorer was bestowed upon LaSalle Vipers forward Liam MacDougall and Tyler Wall and Michael Barrett of the Leamington Flyers combined for the best goals against average not only in the West Conference but in the entire GOJHL.
The Roy Bruhlman Rookie of the Year trophy was given to Leamington netminder Tyler Wall while the Phibbs Inc. Most Outstanding First Year Defenseman was won by London’s Jordan Di Cicco.
The Uni-Fab Top Defenseman Award went to Lambton’s sophomore defenseman Franco Sproviero.
The Chester Pegg Memorial Award for Outstanding Ability and Sportsmanship was collected by Chatham Maroons’ forward Ian Faubert.
The Kevin McIntosh (Best Defensive Forward) Award went to St. Thomas Stars’ player Carson Brookshaw and the Pete’s Sports Coaches of the Year was fittingly handed to St. Thomas Stars’ staff of Darren Kelly, Pat Ouellet, Adam Nemeth and Paul Gibson.
The CHOK Player of the Year Award was garnered by Carson Brookshaw. Brookshaw will be the Western Conference’s candidate against the MidWest and Golden Horseshoe Player of the Year Award winners to claim the OHA Player of the Year Award as top Junior B player in the province and earn a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame for the presentation ceremony.
The All-Star team selections had to be difficult this season with so many good players around the league.
The First All-Star team consisted of goaltender Tyler Wall (Leamington), defensemen: Franco Sproviero (Lambton), Connor McKinnon (Chatham), forwards: Ethan Sarfati (Lambton), Mitchell Amante (Leamington), and Carson Brookshaw (St. Thomas).
The Rookie First All-Star team consisted of goaltender Tyler Wall (Leamington), defensemen: Jordan Di Cicco (London), Ryan Martin (St Marys), forwards: Ross Krieger (Chatham), Shane Bulitka (Strathroy), and Liam MacDougall (LaSalle).
The Kelly Hearn Volunteer of Year Award was bestowed upon Leamington’s young volunteer Riley Jones. The most prestious award of the entire evening, the Western Conference Convenor’s Award which signifies outstanding service to the conference, was won by longtime Strathroy Rocket equipment manager Joe Brooks. Brooks, the face of the Strathroy Rockets, is a former Rocket vice president, a Kelly Hearn award winner and has been inducted into the Strathroy Rockets/Blades Wall of Fame.
With the formalities now out of the way the eight playoff teams can now concentrate on the task at hand: winning the Weir Playoff Crown.
The West Conference and Leamington Flyers also wish to thank all the teams and to those who came out for the dinner and awards ceremony.
(photo: LaSalle Vipers Nathan Savage tries to unlock his stick from the glove of Leamington Flyers Tyler Wall – photo by Nick Brancaccio, The Windsor Star as appearing in The Vancouver Sun.)