CALGARY, Alberta – Five Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) defenceman have been selected as finalists for the 2016 CJHL Top Defenceman Award. The award recognizes the most outstanding defenceman in the CJHL. The award criteria is based on individual performance during the regular season.
Each of the 10 leagues in the CJHL submitted a candidate for the Top Defenceman Award. A representative from all 10 Junior A leagues then ranked their top five choices from among the 10 national nominees and the rankings were assigned a point value. The five players with the highest point total moved on as finalists to the final round of voting. The finalists for the 2016 Top Defenceman Award are outlined below.
Brinson Pasichnuk, Bonnyville Pontiacs, AJHL (52 GP, 20 G – 45 A – 65 PTS)
Brinson Pasichnuk led all AJHL defencemen in scoring and was second to AJHL MVP, Bobby McMann, in team scoring. Pasichnuk (Bonnyville, AB) averaged 1.3 points per game through the regular season and recorded 18 multi-point games. The 18 year-old scored 5 game winning goals, the most of all AJHL defenceman. Brinson Pasichnuk was identified in the NHL Central Scouting Final 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. The second year Pontiac serves as an Assistant Captain for his hometown Pontiacs. Brinson and his brother Steenn have committed to the NCAA Division I Arizona State University Sun Devils.
Brett Orr, Portage Terriers, MJHL (52 GP, 13 G – 29 A – 42 PTS)
While Brett Orr is not related to Bobby Orr ? arguably the NHL’s best-ever player ? there are a number of other similarities between these two hockey players. Both worn jersey No. 4. Both played the blueline. And both were instrumental to the success of their hockey clubs. Brett, 20, was recently presented the Brian Kozak Trophy which is awarded to the MJHL’s top defenceman. Highly skilled, Orr is on the ice in all situations: penalty kill/powerplay, and protecting a lead late in the game. Orr, 5-foot-10, was also involved offensively, reflected in 42 points (13-29) in 52 games: five goals coming via the powerplay. Orr, who hails from Elkhorn, is tough as an old leather hockey glove, but plays with discipline, evidenced by only 46 PIM. A highlite of his season came in December when he was named to the Canada West squad which won gold at the World Junior A Challenge.
Dante Fabbro, Penticton Vees, BCHL (45 GP, 14 G – 53 A – 67 PTS)
Fabbro put up 67 points to lead all BCHL blueliners and his 31 power-play points helped the Vees to a league-best 30.7 per cent success rate. Fabbro played in just 45 BCHL games as he spent part of December with gold-medal-winning Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge. Playing in all situations, Fabbro was assessed just 30 minutes in penalties. The Coquitlam, B.C. product is committed to Boston University for next season and is expected to be a first-round selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Patrick Kudla, Oakville Blades, OJHL (50 GP, 13 G – 53 A – 66 PTS)
Kudla led all OJHL rearguards with 66 points on the season, which was the 14th best total by a defenceman in league history. The Guelph, Ontario native played in all key situations for the Blades this season, getting off to a hot start by being named the OJHL Gongshow Gear South-West Conference Player-of-the-Month for October, and never looked back leading all defencemen in scoring during the season with 53 assists and 66 points in 50 games played. Kudla's 53 assists also topped all OJHL players this season, four more than scoring champion Luc Brown; and was the tenth best total by a defenceman in league history. Kudla was tied for seventh in the overall league scoring race. Not one to shy away from the physical aspect of the game, Kudla also led Oakville and tied for 14th in the OJHL with 86 penalty minutes. Kudla confirmed his commitment this season to join the NCAA Division I, Arizona State University Sun Devils (currently independent) beginning with the 2017-18 season.
Jonathan Fillion, Collège Français de Longueuil, QJHL (52 GP, 26 G – 43 A – 69 PTS)
Defenceman Jonathan Fillion from the Longueuil Collège Français is as much an offensive player as he is a defensive player. His record speaks for itself: 26 goals, 43 assists and 69 points in 52 games including a plus minus record of +67. He is a strong and intelligent player with an exceptional vision for the game. He was selected on the QJHL All-Star team and named defenceman of the year in the QJHL. He has played a key role helping his team to finish 1st in the Alexandre Burrows Division and first overall in the entire league.
Congratulations to all ten Defencemen of the Year Award nominees, which included the following CJHL defencemen who are also winners of their respective league awards:
- Kyle Fransen, Rayside-Balfour Canadians – NOJHL
- Nick Minerva, Fort Francis Lakers – SIJHL
- Michel Poirier, Dieppe Commandos – MHL
- Sean Rappleyea, Ottawa Jr. A Senators – NOJHL
- Eric Sinclair, Melfort Mustangs – SJHL
The Top 5 finalists for all CJHL Awards will be announced over the rest of the week. The recipient of the 2016 CJHL Defenseman of the Year and all CJHL League Awards will be announced during the week of May 9th-13th. All award recipients will receive a special ring designed by Jostens Canada the official award supplier to the CJHL.