Nelson Leafs captain Jack Karran was named the team’s most valuable player and most popular player as voted by his teammates during the team’s annual end-of-season banquet.
The banquet is held to honour the players and coaching staff and thank the many volunteers who give tirelessly to make the Leafs’ hockey season a success.
The winning season saw the Leafs awarded the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League banner as the top team in the Neil Murdoch Division. Despite their regular season success, the Leafs bowed out in the second round of the playoffs when many players suffered late-season illness and veterans Michael LeNoury, Logan Wullum, and David Sanchez were all sidelined due to season ending injury.
Karran, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was also the team’s leading scorer and his leadership abilities continued into the playoffs and earned him the trophy as most valuable player in the playoffs.
Sanchez was recognized as the season’s most improved player.
Wullum was recognized as the most spirited player for the second year in a row.
LeNoury earned three awards. He was the winner of the citizenship award for service to the community and the president’s award, as selected by the coaching staff. The president’s award is presented to the player who exemplifies integrity both on and off the ice, exhibits character as a player and is an example to his teammates for how the game should be played.
LeNoury, along with rookie Keenan Crossman, were jointly recognized with the award for dedication to both hockey and education.
Alternate captain and Nelson native Kaleb Comishin was recognized as the team’s best defenceman.
Castlegar native Sean Campbell was identified as the team’s unsung hero.
The trophy for the most sportsmanlikeplayer was given to Leafs rookie Emery Neilson.
Rookie of the year honours went to Kalem Hanlon.
In addition to the award winners selected by the coaching staff, two awards are bestowed by the board of directors. The title as the most dedicated volunteer was conferred this year on Nick Toner. Generally the first to arrive and the last to leave, Toner helps with the setup and take down on game days and never misses a chance to cheer on his Leafs.
With the 2018-19 season the board instituted a new honour. The board felt it necessary to honour an individual whose contributions have gone unnoticed in the past. By whatever measure is used Nelson has a long and storied hockey history. The board is very aware that a real drawback with this type of citation is that in the many decades the team has been in operation, numerous people could be chosen for this honour. Sadly, the past contributions of some have long gone unnoticed and others may have been lost to time.
The distinguished service award will be given annually to an individual “for long-time dedication, service to and Support of the Nelson Leafs.” The inaugural winner of this accolade is Linda Lussier. For many years Lussier volunteered countless hours toward the operation of the hockey club. The club thanks her as well as the many others before her for their dedication to help make the Leafs what they are today.
Aside from these individual awards, recognition from the KIJHL was previously bestowed on goalie Caiden Kreitz as the top goalie for having the best save percentage in the league. Head coach Mario DiBella was recognized by the KIJHL as the coach of the year in the Neil Murdoch Division. This is a particularly significant award as the selection is made by all of the division coaches.
The Leafs who age out of the junior hockey ranks this year are Karran, LeNoury, Wullum and Kreitz. The Leafs wish these fine young men all the best in their future endeavours.