Red Deer Rebels netminder Patrik Bartosak entered the 2012-13 Western Hockey League season with high hopes.
What he managed to accomplish went far behind his wildest dreams.
“It feels awesome. I would not expect that before the season started,” Bartosak said Sunday from his home in Koprivnice, Czech Republic, one day after being named the Canadian Junior Hockey League goaltender of the year.
Bartosak, who was named the WHL’s top stopper earlier in the month, went into the history books as the first netminder from across the Atlantic to be named as the CHL’s best.
“It is unreal for me as a first European to win this award. It means a lot to me and I appreciate the support all around me and the team,” he said.
The 20-year-old is a sure bet to be selected in the NHL entry draft in late June at Newark, N.J., and he’s hard at work in ensuring that he’s ready for the 2013-14 season, whether he will be back in Red Deer or in the pro ranks.
“I have been training for a couple weeks already, so I guess I am just going to keep on doing that, then go to New Jersey for the draft,” said Bartosak. “We will see what happens there, but this is going to be a big summer for me I think, so I have to get as much ready as I can and the only way of achieving that is working hard.
“This was an unreal season with great bunch of guys, and I’m pretty sure it would have not happened without everybody’s support.”
Bartosak won 33 regular-season games in 2012-13 while posting a 2.26 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and five shutouts. In nine playoff games, he was 5-3-1 with a 1.97 GAA, .941 save percentage and one shutout.
Meanwhile, Halifax Mooseheads star forward Jonathan Drouin was named the 2012-13 CHL player of the year and Mooseheads bench boss Dominique Ducharme took home coach of the year honours.
“The trophy I want is (on Sunday),” Drouin, who had 41 goals and 64 assists in 49 games this season and is the No. 3 ranked North American skater ahead of next month’s NHL draft, told the Canadian Press. “That was our goal from the beginning of the year — winning the Memorial Cup.”
Drouin was quick to note that winning an award like player of the year includes a lot of help from others.
“There’s a lot of good things (involved),” he said. “I didn’t do it all myself. The coaching is part of it, the linemates are part of it so it’s just a great year for everyone.”
Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones, who is rated as the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, was named top prospect of the year.
The other award winners announced were: Tyler Graovac of the Belleville Bulls (sportsman of the year), Brenden Leipsic and Nicolas Petan, both of the Winterhawks (top scorer of the year), Ben Fanelli of the Kitchener Rangers (humanitarian of the year), Josh Morrissey of the Prince Albert Raiders (scholastic player of the year), Valentin Zykov of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar (rookie of the year), and Ryan Sproul of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (defenceman of the year).
l Rick Polutnik of Red Deer was honoured during the Hockey Canada annual general meeting Friday in Charlottetown, P.E.I. Polutnik won the Gordon Juckes Award for outstanding contribution to the development of amateur hockey at the national level.