Steve Konowalchuk, a former NHL veteran of 790 games, is going to lead the Red Deer Rebels in the upcoming hockey season as the head coach. Training camp for the Rebels kicks off Friday with on-ice sessions starting Saturday. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate staff)

King, Konowalchuk, Sutter up for major WHL Awards

Three representatives of the Red Deer Rebels have a chance to cash in on major Western Hockey League awards this summer.

Thursday, ahead of the first round of the WHL Playoffs, which begin Friday, the league announced its divisional nominees for major awards, as well as divisional all-star teams.

Rebels standout centre Ben King was one of four players nominated for Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, handed out to WHL Player of the Year. Rebels head coach Steve Konowalchuk is up for the Daryl K. Seaman Memorial Trophy, given to the WHL Coach of the Year and Owner, president and GM Brent Sutter is in the running for the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy, as WHL’s Executive of the Year.

King, 19, led the WHL with 52 goals and was second in points to teammate Arshdeep Bains with 105. He finished the regular season with 15 game-winning goals, one shy of a 43-year-old record. He led the WHL in that category and also in power-play goals, while posting a 58.8 face-off win percentage.

King was nominated along with Kamloops Blazers forward Logan Stankoven, Regina Pats centre Connor Bedard and Evert Silvertips’ Owen Zellweger.

Konowalchuk, in his first season behind the Rebels bench helped the team to a remarkable turnaround. The former NHLer led the Rebels to a 45-19-2-2 record, good for second in the Central Division and third overall in the Eastern Conference. He had a pair of 20-game winning goaltenders in Chase Coward and Connor Ungar, as well as King and the WHL’s scoring leader in Bains. In seven seasons as a WHL Head Coach, Konowalchuk holds a record of 264-199-37.

Sutter of course, was the architect of the transformation. He was able to lure Konowalchuk as head coach, and made several savvy additions, including veteran forward Liam Keeler and 19-year-old goaltender Connor Ungar. All that helped usher in a new era of success in Red Deer, as the Rebels finished the 2021-22 Regular Season with 94 points, the fifth-highest total in the Club’s 30-year history.

Rebels defenceman Christoffer Seddoff, forwards Arshdeep Bains and Ben King were also named Central Division first-team all-stars.

Red Deer’s Harrison Lodewyk, a forward with the Prince Albert Raiders, was nominated as a WHL Scholastic Player of the Year.

The WHL will name overall award winners on June 1.

U.S. Priority Draft

The WHL also announced Friday that the Edmonton Oil Kings will pick first in the 2022 WHL U.S. Priority Draft, which will take place on May 18. The Rebels obtained the 14th and 31st selections in the two-round draft. Players eligible for the 2022 WHL U.S. Priority Draft will be 2007-born players who reside in the Western United States, as well as Alaska and Hawaii.

WHL Prospects Draft

The Medicine Hat Tigers were awarded the first overall pick in the 20222 WHL Prospects Draft, which is set for May 19. Red Deer will pick 17th overall.