Leamington Flyers Hold Annual Awards Banquet – by C. Scott Holland
On a night when nearly every Leamington Flyers player from 2015/16 was in attendance and a majority of the team’s staff and volunteers present as well, most had probably felt they should have been competing for the coveted Sutheralnd Cup. However such was not the case and at one point during the awards presentation it was noted that Caledonia held a 5-1 lead over London in the finals opening game.
“Despite the fact that this team wasn’t in the hunt for the Cup”, head coach Tony Piroski noted, “This team deserved a better fate” and that “it was not meant to be.” He told close to 144 in attendance that he “has loved working for Leamington owner Abe Fehr every second from the time he started and there hasn’t been one thing he (Abe) has ever turned down whenever I’ve asked him for something …” Piroski went on to bestow his highest accolades upon the members of this past season’s Flyers team and added, “If in the future you ever need something like a reference or advice, don’t hesitate to call me, I’ll be more than happy to do what I can for you.”
President and co-owner Abe Fehr indicated that the Flyers average attendance was higher and that one of the key ingredients for building upon the team’s recent success will be the addition of a marketing person. He thought the calibre of hockey being played is close to that of the OJHL and hopes to see a larger group of volunteers involved with the team during the next few seasons. Fehr saluted the volunteers who were present and commended their dedication and hard work as part of the reason for the team’s turnaround.
The award winners for 2015/16 were: Mitchell Amante – leading scorer and regular season MVP; Derek Elliott and Liam Hogan shared the playoff MVP laurels; Tyler Wall and Mitchell Crevatin shared the honours for Rookie of the Year; the Best Defenseman award was garnered by Jacob McGhee; Matthew Opblinger scooped the Unsung Hero award; Colin Moore was named the Hardest Working Player and JP Grineau took home the Most Gentlemanly/Sportsmanlike honours. The Volunteer of the Year was bestowed upon Riley Jones who also won the same award for the West Conference (Kelly Hearn Award) this year.
The highlight of the night was the GOJHL Best Goaltender Award given to the netminder with the lowest goals-against average in the league. Because the engraving had not been done in enough time for the West Conference finals, the award was presented to Tyler Wall at the team banquet. As a side note, Wall’s 1.49 gaa in 31 games stands as the lowest gaa ever recorded by any of the trophy’s winners and his 94% save percentage stands as the highest save percentage on record for any of the trophy winners.
The only thing missing from the presentation was the fact that Mitchell Amante had actually won the West Conference playoff scoring title. It is unfortunate that the West Conference no longer recognizes the feat with the Pat and Jackie Stapleton Trophy – or any trophy at all. He would have become the second Flyers player to win it and both times it would have been by a member of a team which had not won the conference playoff title.
As the ceremonies came to an end, much rebuilding will be done by the club as they look to replace a minimum of eight players who are overage and perhaps several other players who will move on in their hockey careers or schooling. In the meantime the coaching, scouting and managerial staff will do everything in their powers to field a highly competitive club for the 2016/17 campaign.
Photo: Flyers President Abe Fehr (left) present goaltender Tyler Wall (right) with the GOJHL Top Goaltender trophy. (Photo by C. Scott Holland)