In a 2020-21 BC Hockey League season that was anything but regular, the league decided to forgo awarding the traditional annual awards in favour of pod-based awards.
Although we don’t know who would have won the awards if they were handed out by the BCHL, we can answer who would win if the BCHLNetwork team of writers had its say.
Vern Dye Memorial Trophy
Awarded to one player judged to be the most valuable towards his team’s success during the regular season.
Winner: Christian Fitzgerald, Surrey Eagles
The league leader in points with 33 through 19 games, Christian Fitzgerald was part of a potent Surrey offense that scored nine more goals than the next closest team.
The sophomore was especially lethal on the power play with 20 of his points coming on the man advantage, including a league-best 14 assists. Fitzgerald’s six power play goals are tied for second-most in the BCHL.
This season represented a quantum leap for the Minnesota State commit as he posted six points in 44 games with the Eagles as a rookie in 2019-20.
Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy
Awarded to the player, or players, judged to be the most outstanding rookie during the regular season. Players eligible are 18 years of age or younger (2002 birthday or younger).
Winner: Ellis Rickwood, Victoria Grizzlies
On one hand, Rickwood announced his arrival in the BCHL with a four-goal game on opening night and embarked on a nine-game point streak.
Then again? Buhr kicked off his BCHL career with a seven-game point streak before cooling off in the midpoint of the season. He got back on track with a four-goal, five-point effort in a 7-3 win over Cowichan Valley on May 5.
However, our writers gave the top rookie nod to Rickwood, who is still looking for an NCAA commitment after drawing a ton of attention this season.
Awarded to one player judged to be the most outstanding performer at his position during the regular season.
Winner: Isack Bandu, Victoria Grizzlies
Victoria defenseman Isack Bandu was the decisive winner over Surrey blueliner Brett Bliss. The two 2001-born defensemen dominated the voting by earning a combined eight out of 10 first-place votes and seven of the 10 second-place votes.
Bandu was especially deadly at even strength, with 14 of his 23 points coming in five-on-five play. On the flip side, Bliss helped quarterback the Eagles power play with 12 of his 19 points notched on the man advantage.
Bliss heads to Brown University this September while Bandu, who led all BCHL defenders in scoring, is off to Northern Michigan University in the fall of 2022.
Awarded to the British Columbia Hockey League goaltender voted to be the top at his position for the season.
Winner: Kaeden Lane, Penticton Vees
No one dominated the voting more than Kaeden Lane, who also received six votes overall from our panel for the most valuable player.
Lane’s numbers are eye-popping with a minuscule 1.13 goals-against-average and a .951 save percentage, both best in the league by a mile.
He played 16 games and had five where he didn’t give up a goal at all. The 2001-born netminder’s five shutouts put him in a 15-way tie for third place all-time for the most shutouts in a single season.
Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy
Awarded to a head coach who has excelled in his role over the course of the regular season based on expectations, performance, and circumstances.
Winner: Cam Keith, Surrey Eagles
This vote for coach of the year was the closest out of all the votes in the BCHLNetwork 2020-21 awards. Combined, Surrey coach Cam Keith and Penticton boss Fred Harbinson received a total of 15 of the 20 available first or second-place votes from our writers.
Both Keith and Harbinson saw their teams face a number of defections to other leagues while the BCHL was on pause, plus a number of returnees expected to take another step in their development.
The Eagles earned points in 18 of their 20 games during the season and led the BCHL in goals with 102, nine more than Victoria. Defensively, Surrey finished third overall in goals-against and operated with the best power play at 38.7 per cent.
Harbinson led the Vees to an 18-1-1 record, garnering points in 19 of 20 games. Penticton was the stingiest team defensively, allowing a jaw-dropping 23 goals-against in 20 games. Offensively, the Vees finished third overall in goals-for.