Alberta Junior Hockey League Announces League Award Winners

The Alberta Junior Hockey League, in partnership RBC, is pleased to announce the 2015-2016 League Award Winners in six categories.  The awards include Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Outstanding Defenceman, Top Goaltender, Most Dedicated Player and Coach of the Year.  The award recipients will be presented with their trophies and recognized at a home game throughout the final week of the AJHL regular season and 2016 AJHL Gas Drive Playoffs.

Through an initial phase of voting, the Alberta Junior Hockey League General Managers and Coaches selected two finalists from both divisions for each of the awards.  The award winners listed below were determined through a second and final stage of voting.

Most Valuable Player- Alberta Old Time Hockey Players Trophy

Bobby McMann (Bonnyville Pontiacs) is the 2015-2016 Alberta Junior Hockey League MVP and recipient of the Alberta Old Time Hockey Players Trophy. 

The 19 year-old Pontiac Assistant Captain is currently tied for the lead in team scoring with 61 points (34G, 27A).  McMann has scored the most game winning goals of all AJHL players (9) and the second most goals (34) with 3 games remaining.  McMann has recorded 21 multi-point games in the regular season and an average of 1.4 points per game.  The 3rd year Pontiac was awarded as the Viterra AJHL Star of the Game 11 times this year.

Bobby McMann won a Gold Medal as a member of Team Canada West at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.  The Centre from Wainwright, Alberta has committed to Colgate University of the NCAA Division I.

The last Pontiac to win the AJHL MVP Award was Edmonton Oilers centre Mark Letestu in 2005-2006.

• 2015-2016 Award Finalists: Alex Leclerc – Lloydminster Bobcats; Bobby McMann – Bonnyville Pontiacs; Nelson Gadoury – Camrose Kodiaks; Wyatt Noskey – Olds Grizzlys
• 2014-2015 Award Winner: Nic Renyard – Okotoks Oilers

Rookie of the Year – Dick White Trophy, Presented by Canalta Hotels

Cale Makar (Brooks Bandits) has captured the Dick White Trophy as AJHL Rookie of the Year for 2015-2016.  The 17 year old defenceman is second overall among AJHL rookie scorers with 50 points and 43 assists, and leads all Bandits players in assists.  Cale is second overall in scoring among all AJHL Defenceman and is currently on an 8 game point streak.

“Based on Cale's exceptional play in last year’s playoffs as an affiliate, our staff expected him to have an outstanding rookie season,” said Bandits GM / Head Coach Ryan Papaioannou. “His abilities with the puck are second to none and he sees the ice extremely well. Cale loves to jump into the rush and push the pace offensively. He is a key component you our team success and this recognition as rookie of the year is a great vote of confidence from opposing coaches.”

Makar dressed in all 20 playoff games as an affiliate player last season, and has averaged 1.0 points per games in his first full season with the Bandits.  The rookie defenceman was twice selected as the Viterra AJHL Star of the Game and tallied 2 game winning goals this year.

Cale Makar represented the AJHL at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge, winning a Gold medal for Team Canada West.  Makar has already committed to the University of Massachusetts of the NCAA Division I.

Cale Makar is the second Bandit in franchise history to win the award; the first was Anthony Petruzzelli in 2011-2012.

• 2015-2016 Award Finalists: Ian Mitchell – Spruce Grove Saints; Noah Bauld – Lloydminster Bobcats; Cale Makar – Brooks Bandits; Chase Olsen – Olds Grizzlys
• 2014-2015 Award Winner: Brandon Biro – Spruce Grove Saints

Top Goaltender – Friends of AJHL Trophy

Matthew Murray (Spruce Grove Saints) is the 2015-2016 Top Goaltender and recipient of the Friends of AJHL Trophy.  The Top Goaltender Award is presented to the goalie who demonstrated the greatest ability in his position throughout the season.

Matthew Murray had a season filled with awards and recognitions beginning in December as he won a Gold Medal with Team Canada West at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.  In January, Murray was selected to participate in the 2016 CJHL Prospects Game and soon after was identified in the NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings.  In addition, Murray was awarded the Alberta Ford Dealers AJHL Goaltender of the Week in November 2015 and was selected as the Viterra AJHL Star of the Game twice for the Saints.

In his second year with the Saints, Matt has compiled a record of 21-4-0 with 3 shutouts, a 2.63 GAA and .910 Save Percentage.  Through the month of November 2015, Murray recorded 7 consecutive wins for the Saints.  Last season Matthew backstopped Spruce Grove to their second consecutive AJHL Championship as a rookie, while also sharing in the AJHL Top Goaltends award, which is awarded to the AJHL team with the lowest GAA. 

The 18 year old from St Albert, Albert has committed to the University of Massachusetts of the NCAA Division I.

• 2015-2016 Award Finalists: Matthew Murray – Spruce Grove Saints; Alex Leclerc – Lloydminster Bobcats; Logan Drackett – Calgary Canucks; Riley Morris – Okotoks Oilers
• 2014-2015 Award Winner: Nic Renyard – Okotoks Oilers

Outstanding Defenceman- W.G. (Bill) Scott Memorial Trophy

Brinson Pasichnuk (Bonnyville Pontiacs) is the recipient of the W.G. (Bill) Scott Memorial Trophy as Outstanding Defenceman.  Brinson leads all AJHL defencemen in scoring with 61 points (18G, 43A) and is tied with AJHL MVP, Bobby McMann, as the team scoring leader. 

Pasichnuk (Bonnyville, AB) has averaged 1.2 points per game through the regular season and recorded 18 multi-point games.  The 18 year-old has scored 5 game winning goals, the most of all AJHL defenceman. 

Brinson Pasichnuk was identified in the NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings and represented Team West at the 2016 CJHL Prospects Game.  He also won a Gold Medal with Team Canada West at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.  Brinson was recognized as the Viterra AJHL Star of the Game four times, the Canalta Hotels AJHL Player of the Week in October 2015, and the Alberta Ford Dealers AJHL Player of the Month for October 2015. 

The second year Pontiac serves as an Assistant Captain for his hometown Pontiacs.   Brinson and his brother Steenn recently committed to the NCAA Division I Arizona State University Sun Devils. 

The Outstanding Defenceman award is given annually to the defensive player who demonstrates the greatest all-round ability in the position throughout the season.  

• 2015-2016 Award Finalists: Christian Lloyd – Lloydminster Bobcats; Brinson Pasichnuk – Bonnyville Pontiacs; Shane Bear  – Brooks Bandits; Carson Beers – Okotoks Oilers
• 2014-2015 Award Winner: Linden Springer – Brooks Bandits

Most Dedicated Player – Don McNabb Memorial Trophy

Tyler Busch (Spruce Grove Saints) is the winner of the Don McNabb Memorial Trophy as the Most Dedicated Player for 2015-2016.  The award is presented annually to the player judged to be the most dedicated to his team.   Busch, the 3rd year Saint and Team Captain, leads Spruce Grove in scoring with 63 points (21G, 42A).  He averaged 1.3 points per game and has recorded 22 multi-point games. 

“Tyler’s competitiveness and leadership skills on and off the ice are outstanding,” said Saints GM / Head Coach Jason McKee.  “A fearless leader on the ice and very aware of his team surroundings off it.  Tyler has come in this year and continued on the great tradition of captains that have come thru the Spruce Grove Saints organization.”

Tyler Busch (Lloydminster, AB) is 7th overall in the areas of Assists and Points in the AJHL Scoring Race, and has scored the 3rd most game winning goals (7).   He was selected as the Viterra AJHL Star of the Game six times in the regular season, the Canalta Hotels AJHL Player of the Week in January 2016 and the Alberta Ford Dealers AJHL Player of the Month for September 2015.

Tyler played for Team Canada West during the past two seasons at the World Junior A Challenge, this season capturing the Gold medal while being an Assistant Captain on the team.  Busch has captured two AJHL Championships (2014, 2015) in his time with the Saints.  Busch was a finalist for AJHL Rookie of the Year in 2014

The 20 year-old has committed to play for the Arizona State University Sun Devils, a NCAA Independent Division I program, which will play their first season as a Division I program next year.

The 2014-2015 recipient of the Don McNabb Memorial Trophy was Saints Captain Parker Mackay.

• 2015-2016 Award Finalists: Tyler Busch – Spruce Grove Saints; Steen Pasichnuk – Bonnyville Pontiacs; Wyatt Noskey – Olds Grizzlys; Ben Assad – Calgary Canucks
•  2014-2015 Award Winner: Parker Mackay – Spruce Grove Saints

Coach of the Year

Rick Swan (Bonnyville Pontiacs) is the 2015-2016 AJHL Coach of the Year as voted by the Alberta Junior Hockey League General Managers and Coaches.  Swan is in his third season as Head Coach of the Bonnyville Pontiacs and during that time has posted a regular season record of 93-58-26 while guiding the team to the playoffs in all three years. 

The Pontiacs were eliminated in Round Two of the 2014 playoffs, advanced to the North Division Final in 2015, and have the potential to finish the regular season as high as 2nd in the AJHL North Division in 2016.  Through Swan’s tenure, 17 Pontiacs players have committed College and Universities across North America.

The Bonnyville Pontiacs promoted Rick Swan to Head Coach and General Manager in April 2013.  Swan spent the 2012-2013 season as the Pontiacs Associate Coach and Assistant General Manager after joining the club from the Knights of Columbus Midget AAA club in Edmonton where he had been the Head Coach since 2008-2009.  In 2009, Swan won the Glen Sather Trophy as the AMHL Coach of the Year.

The 2015-2016 Pontiacs have already captured three League Awards – League MVP, Outstanding Defenceman and Coach of the Year.  The Pontiacs are on track to set a new Franchise Record for Most Wins (38) and have tied the Franchise Record for Most Points in a Single Season (83).

Rick Swan was a finalist for the 2015 AJHL Coach of the Year Award.  The last Pontiac Coach to win the award was Chad Mercier in 2010-2011, who recently rejoined the organization as Co-Chair of the 2016 World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, AB. 

• 2015-2016 Award Finalists: Jason McKee – Spruce Grove Saints; Rick Swan – Bonnyville Pontiacs; Boris Rybalka -Camrose Kodiaks; James Poole – Okotoks Oilers
• 2014-2015 Award Winner: Jason McKee – Spruce Grove Saints

The following League Awards will also be presented at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 AJHL Regular Season.

• Regular Season Champion – Dave Duchak Trophy
• Scoring Champion – Ernie Love Trophy
• Top Team Goaltenders – Reebok / CCM Top Team Goaltenders Award
• Stewy Stewart Memorial Award – Stewy Stewart Memorial Trophy
• Viterra Star of the Game Standings Leader – Viterra Cup
• Viterra Salute to Service Award