Mike Tadjdeh’s rookie cap is suddenly rife with feathers.
Tadjdeh, a freshman goaltender with the SAIT Trojans, has earned the biggest honour of his collegiate career yet — as the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference’s 2012-13 rookie of the year in men’s hockey.
Tadjdeh (1st year, Calgary, welding technician, AJHL Okotoks) crafted the ACAC’s second-lowest goals-against average (1.75), as well as the conference’s best save percentage (93.3), during the regular season. He also ended up tied for most regular-season victories (15) across the ACAC.
“Honestly, it came as a bit of a shock, but it was definitely an honour to earn an award like that,” said Tadjdeh on Saturday night at SAIT Arena after he’d backstopped the Men of Troy to a 4-3 win over the NAIT Ooks, his 33-save performance helping SAIT pull even with NAIT at a game apiece in this best-of-five ACAC championship series.
“I thought I picked up my play in the second half of the season, and hopefully I can keep that going in playoffs.”
Tadjdeh becomes the first Trojan to collect the conference’s top rookie award in men’s hockey since Mike Hofstrand did it in 1998-99. More recently, Shane Lust was named ACAC men’s hockey MVP in 2010-11, Mike Ullrich was honoured as the ACAC’s overall male athlete of the year in ’09-10, and Jonathan Malin in ’09-10 became the fourth SAIT player in five years to earn the ACAC scholastic player of the year in men’s hockey.
Tadjdeh had already been named an ACAC first-team all-star at the conclusion of the regular season, and was also christened the conference’s male athlete of the week for playoff games of March 1 and 3.
During an eight-game stretch to end the regular season, Tadjdeh had trimmed his goals-against average to 1.12, boosted his save percentage to 96.2, and earned his first two shutouts as a Trojan.
He’s also maintained that momentum in the playoffs. Through six post-season games, Tadjdeh had stopped a conference-high 92.6 per cent of shots directed his way, allowed 2.51 goals a game, and won four of six post-season games.
“Mike has a strong mind. That’s a great asset as an athlete . . . especially as a goaltender, when the pressure’s on,” veteran SAIT head coach Ken Babey said recently. “You can’t get rattled in this game, and I think Mike even gets better as the pressure increases. That’s what I’ve noticed.
“He’s played very well in big games, and very well during big moments in those games,” added Babey. “Mike’s got a very calm demeanour, but with a competitive edge. It’s all about how strong, mentally focused, and driven you are . . . and I see that in Mike.”