The Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) has announced the final list of nominees for year-end awards and the BCHL has six players in the mix.
Victoria Grizzlies forward Alex Newhook is up for the Most Valuable Player and Top Forward awards.
The 18-year-old from St. John’s, N.L. led the BCHL in scoring by 18 points and clinched the first 100-point season since 2015-16 when he racked up eight points in a single game on the final weekend of the season to give him 102 on the year. His 64 assists led the league and he finished third overall with 38 goals.
Newhook won a bronze medal with Team Canada West at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge and also participated in the 2019 CJHL Prospects Game in January. He’s listed number 16 on the National Hockey League Central Scouting Bureau ranking of North American skaters and is expected to be a first round pick at the 2019 NHL entry draft in June.
If Newhook wins either award, he’ll follow in the skate-steps of former Penticton Vee Tyson Jost, who won both in 2016.
Newhook’s teammate in Victoria, Alexander Campbell, has been nominated as Top Rookie.
Campbell scored three goals in his first-ever game and never looked back, ending the year with 67 points.
The 18-year-old was Newhook’s teammate with Team Canada West at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge and also skated in the CJHL Prospects Game. He is ranked at number 42 among North American skaters ahead of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Newhook won the CJHL’s Top Rookie award last year.
Penticton Vees blueliner James Miller is gunning for the Top Defenceman award.
Miller led the Vees in scoring this season with 62 points. His 44 assists led all defencemen and were tied for the fourth-most in the league.
Miller had 18 different multi-point nights during the season, highlighted by a four-point effort in a 5-3 win over the Powell River Kings on Jan. 11.
The last BCHLer to win the Top Defenceman award was Penticton alum Dante Fabbro in 2015.
Miller’s teammate, Jack LaFontaine, hopes to win the Top Goaltender award.
The Mississauga, Ont. native appeared in 45 of his team’s 58 games. He finished second in the BCHL in most major goaltending categories, including save percentage (.923), goals-against average (2.19) and wins (30).
LaFontaine was drafted in the third round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes and is committed to the University of Minnesota next season.
Finally, Joe Martin, formerly of the Meritt Centennials and now running the show for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, has been nominated for the Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Coach of the Year award.
In his fourth year as head coach of the Centennials, Martin led the team to 12 more wins and 24 points than the 2017-18 season. Merritt finish in a tie for first place in the Interior division and thee Centennials offence flourished under his leadership, finishing second in the league with 220 goals for and a plus-38 goal differential.
The Centennials are among the league leaders in players committed to NCAA Division I programs, currently with 10, including six that announced their commitments during the 2018-19 season.
Martin has been an assistant coach for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge the last two years, winning gold in 2017 and bronze in 2018.
The schedule for the announcement of award winners is below.
May 9: Top Rookie
May 10: Top Forward
May 11: Top Defenceman
May 13: Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award (CJHL Coach of the Year)
May 14: Top Goaltender
May 15: CJHL MVP