The WHL Awards Banquet was held in Red Deer Wednesday for the second year. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)

Prince Albert Raiders win big at WHL Awards Banquet

Coming off a historic season, it was only fitting that the Prince Albert Raiders brought home a big trophy haul from the annual WHL Awards.

It was the second year the awards were handed out in Red Deer at the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre after the event moved from Calgary in 2018.

Prince Albert, who won 54 regular season games, including a 19-game streak during the year and of course, swept the Red Deer Rebels in the first round of the WHL Playoffs, were well represented among the winners Wednesday as voted on by GMs, executives and media.

GM Curtis Hunt, the architect of this years’ Raiders group was selected as the WHL Executive of the Year.

Head coach Marc Habscheid joined the 500 win club this season behind the bench and was recognized as the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy winner as coach of the year.

“Just teamwork, caring about one another, communication. Being on the same page and I think we have obviously really good players, but we have even better people and our leadership group is a strong and mature group,” said Habscheid, whose Raiders start the WHL Final Friday on home ice against the Vancouver Giants.

“It’s great for the city. The city hasn’t seen something like this for 34 years. We’re a small market, it gets people in the building and helps our bottom line. Makes us viable… the town is buzzing and it’s a feel-good story.”

Ian Scott, a Calgary native was the backbone of the Raiders this year and for his efforts earned the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the league’s top goalie.

“It’s a pretty special feeling to get acknowledged like this. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity without the guys back in P.A., helping me out every night and working,” noted Scott, who had 1.83 goals against average and .932 save percentage along with 38 wins and just eight losses.

Scott, 20, garnered even more attention for his offensive prowess this year, launching a shot into an empty-net on Nov. 16 against the Tri-City Americans.

“Well he’s a good goal scorer, that’s for sure, he can hit the net,” joked Habscheid.

Added Scott: “It was pretty cool, you don’t get that opportunity without good teammates and the coaching staff joking with you.”

Portland Winterhawks forward Joachim Blichfeld was the other big winner on the day, earning the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the WHL Player of the Year and also the Bob Clarke Trophy as the top scorer. The Danish sniper led the Winterhawks with 53 goals and 114 points this year. He is currently in Denmark looking to make the Danish National Team for the 2019 World Men’s Hockey Championships.

Spokane Chiefs blueliner Ty Smith was named defenceman of the year. Smith had seven goals and 62 assists this year, which was fourth among all defenceman in the WHL.

A pair of Moose Jaw Warriors were also honoured, as forward Brayden Tracey got the nod as WHL Rookie of the Year and Justin Almeida collected the Most Sportsmanlike Award. Tracey, a Calgary native in his first WHL campaign, recorded 36 goals and 81 points. He was a first round pick by the Warriors in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.

Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Will Warm collected the WHL Humanitarian of the Year and Everett Silvertips goalie Dustin Wolf picked up the Scholastic Player of the Year nod.

The Portland Winterhawks were the Scholastic Team of the Year, Brett Iverson won his third straight WHL Offical of the Year award and the Silvertips were selected as the WHL Business Award.

Thursday at the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre, the WHL Bantam Draft will be held. It is not open to the public but WHL fans can follow along on WHL.ca



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

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