RBC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
SGEU MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
Layne Young, F
Battlefords North Stars
1997 F Layne Young (Frenchman Butte SK) had a season that was as prolific as any in recent memory.
Young joined a select group of 100 point season players, becoming the first to do it since Travis Eggum and Marc-Andre Carre in 2010-11. By contrast, the leading point getter a season ago had 79.
Young’s 100+ points represented a contribution of almost 50% of all North Star offense. He was also a model of consistency, finishing in the top two of league scorers in each month of the season.
Teams held Young off the scoresheet only seven times all year (through 56 games), that included a rare three games in a row in mid-November. He had points in 16 straight to end the year.
Young was the SJHL Rookie Of The Year in 2015-16 and ends his career with 251-points in 165-games (with two contests remaining in the 2017-18 year).
Kindersley Klippers head coach Geoff Grimwood has high praise for the North Stars forward. “He’s a very honest player, regardless of how much skill he has. He competes hard every night and makes his teammates better. Layne is a complete package with great size, speed, and shot. But, he’s also very hard working and competitive.”
Humboldt Broncos bench boss Darcy Haugan adds, “Layne’s got a high skill set with an even higher level of composure. Obviously, you don’t get to 100 points with smoke and mirrors, however what I admire the most about Layne’s game is his ability to execute when the critical moment of a game presents itself.”
Those sentiment are echoed by Nipawin’s Doug Johnson. “Layne is a very special player. He is, incredibly, smart with a great skill level. When he has the puck on his tape, it is very hard to get it away from him. Consistency is also a huge asset for Layne. Game in, game out he brings it. He always competes and the bigger the game the better he plays.”
IBAS TOP DEFENSEMAN
Josh McDougall, D
In a year when offensive defencemen stood out in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Josh McDougall rose to the top of that talented group.
The 19-year-old Prince Albert product more than doubled his output from his rookie campaign as he led the Nipawin Hawks in scoring with 17 goals and 55 assists entering the final four days of the regular schedule.
As a result of his outstanding performance, McDougall has been named the IBAS Top Defenceman of the Year.
The selection is another major accomplishment for the talented blueliner as earlier this year he committed to play with the NCAA Division 1 Mercyhurst next season in addition to participating in the inaugural Sask/Man Showcase in Regina in mid-January.
McDougall, who was named to the SJHL’s all-rookie team a year ago when he had 30 points in 53 games, is used in all situations with the Hawks as 12 of his goals have come while the team is on the power-play and two of his assists have been on short-handed markers. McDougall has also netted four game-winning tallies during his impressive season.
It is the third straight year that McDougall has claimed a major honour as prior to joining the Hawks he was selected to the first-team all-star squad in his final season of midget hockey while playing with the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
Justen Close, G
Kindersley goalie Justen Close was a horse this regular season. He was counted on more than anyone across the league as he led the way in Games Played and Minutes by a fair margin, and shares the honour of SJHL Goaltender of the year. With the final week of the regular season still to come, Close was third in the league in wins (19). He also sported a 2.72 goals against average and the league’s second best save percentage (.922%). His three shutouts also had him in a tie for second across the league, and if the Klippers complete their late season charge and finish in the top six, he’ll be arguably the biggest reason why.
Declan Hobbs, G
For the second straight year there is a goaltender from the Nipawin Hawks with his name on the SaskTel Top Goaltender Award as 19-year-old Declan Hobbs shares this year’s honour with Justen Close of the Kindersley Klippers.
Hobbs has been busy this year as he has appeared in 28 games with the Hawks entering the final week of the regular season recording a 21-4-1-2 record. His goals-against average and save percentage are among the league’s best and along with rookie Jake Anthony he has helped Nipawin boast the best defensive numbers overall.
Hobbs joined the Hawks last season after spending parts of three seasons with the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League. Hobbs saw limited action a year ago as Kristian Stead was the workhorse on that squad enroute to claiming the top goaltender and most valuable player awards. Hobbs still got into 13 games and finished the year with a 1.94 goals-against average and .929 save percentage, benchmarks he was on pace to easily eclipse this year until he was beaten for six goals on 15 shots in a late-season outing against the Melfort Mustangs.
His strong play this year also got him another opportunity in the WHL as Hobbs was called up by the Spokane Chiefs for two games in December. His return to Nipawin, however, gives the Hawks one of the best tandems entering the post-season.
DIRECTWEST ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Cade Kowalski, F
Weyburn Red Wings
Weyburn’s Cade Kowalski led all rookies in SJHL scoring in 2017-2018, and with that he’s been named a co-recipient for SJHL Top Rookie. The Morden, MB product moved west this season and racked up 10-goals and 58-points, through 57 games. Notre Dame’s Jared Hamm was the league’s only other rookie to hit the 50-point plateau. Kowalski had 16 multi-point games, including a four point effort against Yorkton February 3rd.
Jacob Wasserman, G
Humboldt Broncos goaltender Jacob Wassermann caps off a busy regular season by being named co-winner of the SJHL Rookie Of The Year. Wassermann’s season was set to begin with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, but his rights were dealt to the Regina Pats, and he found himself joining his hometown Humboldt Broncos, where he went 14-8-2-3, with a 2.60 GAA and .909%. The season also saw him try out for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge Selection Camp in Calgary, and backstop a victory at the CJHL Top Prospects Game in Mississauga, Ontario.
CANALTA HOTELS COACH OF THE YEAR
For the second year in a row, and third time since becoming head coach and general manager of the Nipawin Hawks in 2010, Doug Johnson is the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Canalta Hotel Coach of the Year.
Johnson is on the verge of doing something the Hawks haven’t experienced in 18 years and that is guiding the team to a first-place finish overall in the regular season. With the Sherwood Division banner already secured, the Hawks need just one more win, or Battlefords North Stars’ loss, during the final four days of the regular schedule to claim the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs.
As was the case last year, a Johnson-lead team will record 40 or more wins, but this year was different as there was a stretch from Nov 10 to Feb 17, a total of 30 games, when the Hawks recorded at least one point. If it weren’t for the Melfort Mustangs that run might have been a lot longer as the Mustangs were the team to defeat Nipawin at both ends of the streak and in fact finished the season with an incredible 8-1-1-0 mark against the Hawks.
Should the Hawks get that No. 1 seed there is the potential for a Nipawin-Melfort showdown in the semi-finals, a level Nipawin has been to in each of the last three years only to miss out on the opportunity of advancing to a league final for the first time since 2000-01.
Johnson and his staff have done a great job year-in and year-out in recruiting players and this season was no exception as he brought in first-year players Austin Mikesch, Jake Tremblay, Jordan Simoneau and Jake Anthony, among others, to compliment a veteran team looking to claim its first league title in 28 years.