Ryan Pulock’s numbers will rank him among the Brandon Wheat Kings’ all-time blue-line greats, and his award haul on Saturday reflected that as well.
The 19-year-old defenceman capped what is in all likelihood his final Western Hockey League regular season by winning three team awards. A native of Grandview, Pulock was named the Wheat Kings’ Meighan Haddad Most Valuable Player and received the Brad McCrimmon Memorial Trophy as the club’s top defenceman and the Manitoba Hydro Turk Broda Trophy as the top Manitoba-born player.
“They’re all honours,” said Pulock, a first-round draft pick of the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders who is expected to jump to the professional ranks next season.
“The Brad McCrimmon Memorial Trophy is really special and MVP is pretty special for me, too. I’m an older guy on the team. I’ve got to be a leader, I’ve got to be one of the better players on the ice every night. That’s my job, that’s what I expect of myself and that’s, I’m sure, what other people expect of me, so it’s nice to do that and I’ve just got to refocus here this week. It’s a big week for our team to get prepared (to face the Regina Pats in the playoffs).”
Pulock had a goal and two assists as the Wheat Kings closed out the regular season and clinched a playoff spot with a 6-3 victory over the Regina Pats on Saturday at Westman Place. He finished his final campaign with 23 goals and 63 points in 66 games. Pulock’s career totals of 64 goals and 210 points allowed him to break McCrimmon’s Brandon record for goals by a blue-liner, while becoming one of only five Wheat King defencemen to top the 200-point mark. He also joined McCrimmon, who died in a 2011 plane crash, as three-time winners of the Wheat Kings’ top-defenceman honour.
The only other Wheat King to win multiple awards was forward Jayce Hawryluk, a Roblin native who finished one point ahead of Pulock for the Brandon Sun Scoring Champion Trophy, with 64 points, including 24 goals in 59 games. Hawryluk also won the Canad Inns Hardest Working Player Award.
Brandon’s MNP Rookie of the Year was Jordan Papirny, who finished second among first-year goalies in the WHL with 22 wins while posting a 3.28 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage.
“(Winning the award is) very special and I’ll remember this a long time,” Papirny said. “I think as a goalie, you don’t play very much (as a rookie, normally), but fortunately for me, I got lots of opportunity this year and I’m just going to thank all my teammates for this for what they’ve done. I could go down the whole list of guys blocking shots for me every night, and I think that contributes.”
Other award winners were:
• Defenceman Rene Hunter of Ebb and Flow won the Art Marshall Award as the top graduating 20-year-old player after leading Brandon overagers with 34 points in 63 games.
• Forward Quintin Lisoway of Neepawa was recipient of the Coca-Cola Rob Stouffer Most Inspirational Player Award.
• Second-year forward John Quenneville jumped from 19 points to 58 points, earning the Dennis Truscott UCT Most Improved Player Award.
• Defenceman Colton Waltz was named the Precision Toyota Unsung Hero Award.
•Centre Tim McGauley was named the Keystone Centre John Scott Kent Most Sportsmanlike Player, producing 60 points and spending only 21 minutes in the penalty box.
• Czech import Richard Nejezchleb, who scored a team-high 32 goals, claimed the Manitoba Blue Cross 3-star Award.
• Rugged rookie Jesse Gabrielle of Brandon was voted winner of the Shoppers Drug Mart Fans’ Choice Award.
• Rookie forward Ryley Lindgren was the Maggie Janz Scholastic Player of the Year.
• Veteran Chad Robinson of Minnedosa earned the McDonald’s Frank King Trophy as the team’s most community-minded player.
•All three 20-year-old players, Hunter, Robinson and Jens Meilleur, were honoured before their final regular-season game in the WHL.