The Kelowna Rockets held their annual year-end awards ceremony on Sunday afternoon, with 11 awards for some of the team’s top performers throughout the 2022-23 campaign up for grabs.
Rockets forward Andrew Cristall had an electrifying season, racking up a team-high 95 points in 54 games, despite suffering a lower-body injury that forced him to miss 14 regular-season games, and the CHL/NHL Top Prospects game.
Cristall crossed the stage to accept three awards — recognized as the team’s top scorer, top plus minus rating and MVP.
“It’s definitely an honor, to get any award,” described Rockets forward, Andrew Cristall.
“Everybody on the team is deserving of the awards that I got, and I was lucky enough to get them, but yeah It was a really cool event to have all the fans come to the theatre and it was pretty special.”
Meanwhile, defenseman Caden Price earned the team’s top defenseman award after leading the Rockets defense core in points, and he joins some pretty impressive company, like Shea Weber, Tyson Barrie and Luke Schenn.
“Just now I got to look at those guys on the trophy and seeing some of those guys, a lot of NHL guys, I think it’s really motivating and I think I’m just honored to be selected for the trophy,” said Rockets blueliner, Caden Price.
“I couldn’t thank my teammates, my defense core and my defense coach enough for getting me to the point I am today.”
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In his third year with the Rockets, veteran defenseman John Babcock was the recipient of the humanitarian award, for his dedication to community work including his role as team ambassador for the Hockey Gives Blood initiative.
The Scholastic Player of the Year award goes to the player that demonstrates solid grades in the classroom, while also balancing the grind of being in the WHL, and this year, it went to 17-year-old Trae Johnson.
This year’s most improved goaltender was Jari Kykkanen, while the unsung hero award went to Rockets defenseman Carson Golder, and team captain Gabriel Szturc took home the top defensive forward title.
The rookie of the year award likely comes as no surprise for Rockets fan, as Ismail Abougouche solidified a spot on the team at just 16-years-old and became the only Kelowna Rocket in team history that’s ever been drafted in the 12th round to make the team.
Last but certainly not least, was the most sportmanslike award. Former Calgary Hitmen forward Adam Kydd, playing in his final season in the WHL, earned the award after he tallied 37 penalty minutes in 50 games, ranking 15th out of all active/inactive Rockets players this season.
The Kelowna Rockets wrapped up their regular season on home ice Saturday night, sending their fans home happy following a 5-4 victory over the Vancouver Giants. They’ll faceoff against the Western Conference regular season champion Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round of the WHL playoffs, starting Friday night in Seattle.
The first chance for fans to catch these two teams in action at Prospera Place is game three on Tuesday, April 4th.