2009 Burton Hockey Awards

Most Outstanding Player Pat Elischer, West Vancouver (VRH): From the moment he stepped onto the court at Ambleside Park, this award was not in doubt. Elischer dominated pretty much every second of every session he was out on the rink. A relatively easy selection; the only other player remotely close may have been fellow super-rookie Ben de Wit (more on that below).

Most Outstanding Defenceman Ben de Wit, Nakusp (BUSH): In a year where defence in either league was more prominent than ever, de Wit was at the forefront. The days of Oliver Koth-Kappus being the only full-time defenceman in Burton are long gone now. Runner-up for this award was VRH's answer to Zdeno Chara, Jordan Barlow, with honourable mention to stay-at-home shot-blocker Brad Gibson. And I'm sure if Pat Elischer wanted to play defence, he'd be more than up there, too!

Most Outstanding Goaltender Justin Gordon, Nakusp (BUSH): Easily the most hotly debated, polarising award selection this season, with a dozen great goalies who could get at least some consideration. In the end, it's just impossible to argue with an .839 save percentage, nearly 1,200 saves, and a record ten conseuctive .800 sessions, a mark no one has ever come close to reaching. Even the other great goalies this year faltered at least once. Justin played the entire year above .800 every session with the fourth-highest save total ever. Were the award titled 'Most Valuable Goaltender', then it would hard to argue either against runner-up Shem Hanna, who posted 1,800 saves and an outstanding .829 over 103 games (including a 248-save performance at the August SuperSession), or VRH stalwart Bron Mach, who was only ranked eleventh in goal with .802 but also carried the western league on his back and played in some amazing sessions en route to 1,876 saves and an absurd 138 games in goal. Honourable mention to Seamus O'Connor, who came in late in the season with three sessions in goal for an astounding .869 save percentage. And we haven't even mentioned Nathan Robson. Or Troy Waldron. Or Dom Voser. Or Jesse Martin's .923. It was just a damn good, competitive year in goal.

Dual Threat of the Year Seamus O'Connor, Glenbank (BUSH): It was an interesting year for dual threats. Perennial favourite Justin Gordon was exclusive to goal this season. Goaltending stalwarts like Shem Hanna and Nathan Robson broke full-time into the skating ranks. Lorne Bilinski was solid in goal but had a shaky first half of the year on skates. Initially it looked like this was Troy Waldron's to lose, especially once K.J. O'Connor went down with an injury. Waldron was even in goal with Terryn Stenseth but dominant on skates. But the category was blown open when Seamus O'Connor returned in August. Even coming in 2/3 of the way through the year, he potted 219 points and averaged 2.88 PPG before switching to goal and posting an amazing .869 including the rare feat of back-to-back .890 sessions in near-winter conditions.

Rookie of the Year (tie) Ben de Wit, Nakusp (BUSH); Pat Elischer, West Vancouver (VRH): In this, the year of the rookie, three dozen players were eligible! 36 rookies! There have been entire seasons where we didn't have 36 players, let alone 36 rookies. Many of these rookies would easily won in any other year (certainly a most honourable mention to Shem Hanna and his amazing year in goal). But this year, two of these rookies were dominant. Ben de Wit's rookie record of 393 points was higher than the old overall single-season scoring record. His influence on the game even beyond statistics was huge, showing up for twenty consecutive sessions and controlling all play on the court, putting the fear of God into opponents across the circuit. No rookie has been this committed to the game and combined that commitment with domination like Ben did. On the other hand, Pat Elischer is the most dominant player of the past half-decade. He may not have played as much as Ben but was obviously the best player this year, as seen by his MOP win listed above, and was VRH's leading scorer (the first non-original to do so). He almost single-handedly brought down other players' points-per-game numbers by nearly half-a-point. Both players were influential. Each was the best player in his repsective league. Each put up huge numbers session-in, session-out. In the end, trying to decide which rookie had the biggest impact was fruitless, and both outstanding rookies share this award.

Most Improved Player Troy Waldron, Nakusp (BUSH): It may have been the year of the rookie, but there were plenty of veterans who stepped their game up too. But no one stepped up their game over previous years like Troy Waldron did. Before this season, Troy was a twelve-game teenage footnote in Burton history, lost in the crowd of unfamiliar faces. He returned this year at age 22 a completely changed player; an elite 3.00 PPG presence who may be the fastest player in Burton History and owner of one of the hardest workrates in either league. He's also one of the most inherently skilled players in Burton and one of the hardest players to play against. Runner-up goes to Andrew Watson; before this year, Watsy was one of the more infamous floaters in Burton history, but has transformed into once of the most defensively-sound players and most desired teammates in BUSH. Shoutouts as well to Kyle Grenier, Shem Hanna, Jordan Downey and Terryn Stenseth, among many others in this fantastic season.

Most Sportsmanlike Player Ryan Disterheft, North Vancouver (VRH): This may be Ryno's award to lose; he's now won it both years he's been in Burton Hockey. Not that there were a shortage of candidates: Jordan Barlow, Jordan Downey, Pat Elischer, Ben de Wit, Bron Mach, Oliver Koth-Kappus, Jesse Martin, Troy Waldron, Tony Hajdu, Stefan Klopp - it's probably not a shock that most of these guys are from VRH, though!

Ironman of the Year: Lee Orr, Nakusp (BUSH): 239 games played, which is especially amazing given his medical history. Oliver Koth-Kappus got close at 222 games. No one else was in the ball park.

Comeback Player of the Year Lyle Detta, Burton (BUSH): Lyle was an integral member of the original BUSH batallion. His career was thought over in 2005 after a pretty serious car accident and four years of almost no physical activity as a result. For him to even try and come back seemed laughable just a few months ago. For him to have that long of a layoff with that kind of physical injury and be just as good as he ever was while playing 56 games and stopping over 900 saves this season (by far his highest total ever) was just crazy. It only figures that Lyle could top his own incredibly bizarre, wonderful story and add to it with an amazing comeback year.

Most Valuable Player Lee Orr, Nakusp (BUSH): This one doesn't need to be explained. The greatest season in history. The most dedicated season in history.

1st All-Stars
Ben de Wit, Nakusp (BUSH)
Pat Elischer, West Vancouver (VRH)
Justin Gordon (G), Nakusp (BUSH)
Kyle Grenier, Nakusp (BUSH)
Lee Orr, Nakusp (BUSH)

2nd All-Stars
Jordan Barlow, Vancouver (VRH)
Shem Hanna (G), Nakusp (BUSH)
K.J. O'Connor, Nakusp (BUSH)
Seamus O'Connor, Glenbank (BUSH)
Troy Waldron, Nakusp (BUSH)

It might seem a little BUSH-heavy, but keep in mind that there could easily be a 3rd- and 4th-team this season; most of the next ten players would be VRHers. VRH's depth is something to be reckoned with now; BUSH has more top-line offensive players, but VRH has an advantage in overall skater depth and defensive play, not to mention the top player in either circuit. The leagues are dead even right now in terms of quality. With 71 players this year, a lot of really good players got left off. This is the first time ever Lorne Bilinski has not been named to an all-star team.

Most Dedicated Team
Lorne Bilinski, North Vancouver (VRH)
Ben de Wit, Nakusp (BUSH)
Ryan Disterheft, North Vancouver (VRH)
Kyle Grenier, Nakusp (BUSH)
Shem Hanna, Nakusp (BUSH)
Joern Hornhardt, Burnaby (VRH)
Stefan Klopp, Vancouver (VRH)
Bernie Koth-Kappus, Vancouver (VRH)
Oliver Koth-Kappus, Vancouver (VRH/BUSH)
Bron Mach, Burnaby (VRH)
K.J. O'Connor, Nakusp (BUSH)
Lee Orr, Nakusp (BUSH)

Of all the honours we give out, this is my favourite one and the one I put the most value in. These are the guys who were there week-in, week-out throughout the entire year and took nearly every opportunity they had to play. Best of all, it's the largest Most Dedicated Team ever, and that's because they helped make this season wildly successful. When it's this large (usually it's just 3-to-7 people long), it's a sign that more players than ever are truly dedicated to Burton Hockey.

Kyle wrote on January 06, 2010 @ 19:04:43 PST
We've reached the point we've been waiting for for years: VRH is just as good as BUSH. There are so many good VRH left off the all-star team because there just isn't enough room, but could you imagine Pat-Lorne-Stef-Barlow-Rob-Ollie at the Deca? Scary. (Let's not forget Smart, Eric, Ryno, Joern - the list goes on.)
Bones wrote on January 06, 2010 @ 18:33:07 PST
Great stuff! I can't wait until the Decca session

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