As the Red Deer Rebels star goaltender for two and a half seasons, Patrik Bartosak was always a man of many words.
And yet, when informed a day after the Rebels’ season ended that he would be honoured as the Red Deer open male athlete of the year, the native of the Czech Republic was actually short on comments.
“It’s definitely a big honour for me. I don’t know what to say right now,” he stated. “I really appreciate that.”
Bartosak was a Western Hockey League Eastern Conference first all-star team selection for the 2012-13 season and was named the top goaltender in not only the WHL, but the entire Canadian Hockey League.
Those accolades made him a natural for the award he was presented with during the Red Deer Community Sports Awards dinner Thursday at the Red Deer Sheraton, joining former Red Deer College Queens volleyball player Kirsten Sorensen, who was honoured as the open female athlete of the year.
“I really don’t know much about that,” said Bartosak, in reference to the selection process. “But it obviously had something to do with it and I’m happy with this award. Maybe people here will remember me in a good way now.”
As Rebels associate coach Jeff Truitt — who accepted the award for Bartosak — suggested, Rebels fans will always remember the goaltender in a kindly fashion. Truitt, who joined the club early in the 2012-13 season, is clearly a big fan of Bartosak.
“When I came in over a year ago I didn’t know Patty at all. But before long, he proved to me that, No. 1, he was a competitor, and No. 2 , he’s a great young man,” said Truitt, who represented Bartosak — now in the American Hockey League with the Manchester Monarchs — at the awards dinner.
Bartosak was selected by Los Angeles in last year’s NHL entry draft and recently signed a three-year deal with the Kings. The 20-year-old is just starting his pro career with the Monarchs, the No. 1 affiliate of the Kings.
“I talked their goaltender guy in Manchester and he said Patrik just had his second practice with the team,” said Truitt. “He’s a work in progress and they like what they see in him. But whether he’ll get into some game action, they don’t know.”
Truitt is confident that Bartosak will one day make his way to the NHL.
“The nice part about where he is right now is he knows he has to take another step up in his development,” said Truitt. “He came over here to develop and he did develop and now that’s he turned pro he has to develop some more.
“I wouldn’t bet against him just because he’s that type of competitor. With the way he thinks and how badly he wants to succeed . . . that’s a great quality in a young man. Red Deer has had one of the best European goaltenders the last couple of year. He proved last season and again this past year that he’s such an instrumental and a consistent guy night in and night out.”
Sorensen, a Red Deer native who played high school volleyball with the Notre Dame Cougars, was an exceptional setter with the Queens and was named the club’s most valuable player for the 2012-13 season and was honoured as the RDC female athlete of the year.
“She was also a phenomenal student,” said RDC athletics director Keith Hansen of Sorensen, who is currently at Memorial University in Newfoundland and is a member of the Sea-Hawks women’s volleyball team.
“Kirsten is one of those kids who did everything. She was an academic All Canadian and probably the best physical athlete on her team as far as training, strength and speed. She was dedicated and fun to coach. Kirsten was a great setter here and she’s more than deserving of this award.”
Joe McQuay, who was a Central Alberta High School Football League all-star with the Notre Dame Cougars and offensive lineman with Team Canada for an international game versus the U.S., was honoured with the Red Deer junior male athlete of the year award.
The junior female athlete of the year award was presented to Maddison Pearman, a member of the Central Lions Speedskating Club. Pearman also skated with the provincial long and short track teams and competed in the world junior long track championship in Italy.
Other award winners:
Master male athlete — Dale Belcher, boxer; Master female athlete — Bernice Fuss, power lifter; Team of the year — Rob Armitage, senior men’s world curling champions; Coach of the year — Terence McMullen, Lindsay Thurber Raiders senior boys volleyball provincial 4A champs; Kendall Dunkle minor coach of the year — Dale Henderson, long-time volunteer coach; Volunteer of the year — Val Jensen, Woody’s Triathlon; Official of the year — Matt Cassidy, WHL referee; Business contributor of the year — Scottsville Group.