Presenting the 2010 Burton Hockey Awards
The votes have been tallied, and now it is time to reveal the all-stars and honourees for the 2010 season in our 11th annual Burton Hockey Awards.
This edition of our year-end Burton honours introduces two major changes to the process; a sign of the continued progression of the game. For the first time, the voting process was opened up to the entire group of players, ensuring a much more fair representation of overall feelings and opinions. As well, both leagues of Burton Hockey have grown so much that the time has come to split the awards and let each group have its own set (with 41 players in BUSH and 40 players in VRH this year, it’s time). I was wary of doing it last year because I wasn’t sure yet that both leagues would be able to sustain the momentum and the numbers from 2009. I think it’s safe to say that both leagues exceeded expectations in 2010. Assuming this trend continues, next year will go even one step further, for you will see two completely separate VRH and BUSH ballots! In case of ties, the tiebreaker used was first-place votes specifically from voters in that league (i.e. the number of first place votes from VRH voters break ties in VRH, and the number of first place votes from BUSH voters break ties in BUSH). On to the awards!
Statistically-based awards, of course, are those that are don’t have to be voted on as they are inherently decided by statistics.
Scoring Champion: Lee Orr, BUSH (760 points, 5th title)
Poor Kyle Grenier. He dominated this category for the first, oh, 230 games of the season, scoring at a pace AND playing games at a rate never seen in history. With a Burton Hockey-record 735 points by the end of July, it seemed like an absurd 1,000 points was well within his reach. An abrupt relocation to Kelowna, however, ended that dream. It’s also no coincidence that BUSH ground to a virtual halt upon his departure, as Grenier had been performing most of the organising as well. It would take Lee Orr all the way until the Thanksgiving SuperSession to catch up to Grenier. In the end, Lee would barely eke out a fifth career scoring title, 760-735. No one else was in the ballpark, but honourable mentions go to Oliver Koth-Kappus and Pat Elischer for also climbing the nearly-impossible 500-point mountain, especially Pat for doing it playing a half-schedule in VRH (his 466 points in VRH this year is a league record).
Goaltending Champion: Taylor Reitmeier, BUSH (.852 save percentage, 1st title)
The sophomore wunkerkind lived up to the hype in 2010. He only played the first third of the season before departing for university, but his five sessions left a sizeable impression: he never fell below .840 even within the confines of a session, and half of his games goaltended were in regulation-size nets, including .887 at the DecaSession. The overall 2010 performance of the runner-up, Seamus O’Connor (.837) was also impressively solid. The Irishman easily led BUSH in shot volume and games goaltended this season, yet never let his save percentage slip through the year. In fact, he saved his best performance for the end of the year with an absurd .895 and 145 saves in TWO GAMES. Laird Bilinski’s strong DecaSession performance helped him finish third at .832, and Alex Elischer laid down a rookie campaign for the ages en route to leading VRH with .817 (fourth overall). In total, 16 goaltenders crossed the magical 150-shot threshold to be considered for this award this season, especially impressive considering that four goaltenders took up the bulk of rink time this season.
Ironman of the Year: Oliver Koth-Kappus, VRH/BUSH (273 games played, 3rd title)
The ironman battle was very close this year. It emerged as a five-way battle between Oliver, Bernie Koth-Kappus. Kyle Grenier, Dominik Voser, and Lee Orr. Kyle fell away after July, but Bernie managed to hold a one-game lead over Oliver despite playing the same amount of sessions (a consequence of Oliver’s four BUSH sessions this season, which tended to be shorter in terms of games played). When Bernie wasn’t there at the second-last VRH session, Oliver was. That was the difference. Bernie’s amazing consecutive session streak ended at 38, and Oliver took back the Ironman title for the first time since 2005. Meanwhile, a previously unlikely candidate was right behind them the whole time and nearly caught them at the end, as Dom played 265 games this season, including an amazing 254 of them in goal. The final tally: Oliver 273, Bernie 271, Dominik 265, Lee 256.
Now we get to the awards that YOU voted on, starting with the eastern circuit. There are plenty of familiar faces and repeat winners this year in BUSH, joined by a firebrand who reinvented himself as a true leader of the league and dominated the score sheet while doing it. As well, one of, if not the, all-time greatest goaltenders in Burton history completely reinvented himself as a defenceman. But first, a new award for 2010:
Organiser of the Year: Kyle Grenier (1st award)
A long-overdue award finally making its debut with the end of the 2010 season. Not only was Grenier the top offensive force in BUSH in 2010, he also performed the largest share of session organising. Often organising things on the fly with just a few hours’ notice, Kyle’s efforts to keep BUSH going through the dog days of summer pushed the league toward new volume records even as rosters began depleting. It also gave Lee Orr a nice break this season. Runner-up goes to Nathan Robson, who also threw together a sizeable amount of sessions and helped recruit a handful of new players.
Comeback Player of the Year: K.J. O’Connor (1st award)
Really, there was only one stand-out choice this year. Truth be told, this was a pretty shallow category in both leagues in 2010. That said, K.J.’s miraculous return in January after smashing his left femur to powder in a brutal August car crash would probably win any year. Playing the entire year with an 18-inch titanium rod in your leg is a pretty big feat. The fact that he did it at a 2.60 PPG clip is even more impressive. The rest of the votes (where there were any) tended to be scattered about. Other players receiving first-place votes included Ben de Wit, who came back at Thanksgiving after a year’s absence and matched Pat Elischer in scoring, Colby Olsen, who played the most he’s ever played in ten years, including both Fuller Cup series, and Noel Ballard (your guess is as good as mine; he only started playing as a regular in November 2009).
Most Sportsmanlike Player: Lee Orr (1st award)
Heh. Well, here’s an ego bruise for BUSH: only two players in the entire league had multiple votes for Most Sportsmanlike Player at any level (compare that to seven in the ranks of VRH). This is traditionally a very-VRH dominated category, and never more so than this year. Even on ballots filled out by BUSH players, only TWO votes went to BUSH. Thanks to votes from the VRH side, Lee Orr wins almost by default. Runner-up is Terryn Stenseth, the only other BUSH player who got more than one vote.
Most Improved Player: Nathan Robson (1st award)
Contrast that with Most Improved Player, where there was plenty of competition in BUSH as the quality of defensive play went way up in 2010. Taking all but two of the first-place votes in BUSH, however, was Nathan Robson, the legendary goaltender who decided near the end of 2009 that he was tired of being hit with pucks. He strapped on the blades and slowly progressed from a guy who could barely keep up to decent by the end of 2009. Once the calendar turned to 2010, Nate broke out to the point where he can be considered among the top two or three defensive players in BUSH (perhaps the best on his good days), a terrific passer, and he’s learning to put the puck in the net as well, getting his PPG up to 2.30 for the first time, and leading his first session in scoring this year. His amazingly short transition from barely-able-to-skate to premier defensive ability is a testament to his dedication and innate ability. It’s a shame we won’t see too much of him next year with his relocation to Cranbrook. Runner-up is another worthy candidate (and the 2006 winner of the award), Graeme Orr, who would probably take the all-time Most Improved award. There is no doubt who the best defensive regular in BUSH is anymore; it’s Graeme. Finishing third was Kyle Grenier as he consolidated his position as BUSH’s top offensive force while taking on more defensive responsibilities in the smaller-size sessions this season.
Rookie of the Year: Andy Kieran
The BUSH rookie crop was fairly sparse in 2010, especially compared to last year, or to this year’s ‘big three’ rookies in VRH. That being said, the choice on the BUSH was pretty obvious. Andy Kieran only graced our presence for a month en route to his new home in Tofino, but he put in a yeoman’s effort with 30 games played in that span, including completing a double championship win at the DecaSession, as a member of both the Fuller Cup and Burton Open-winning teams. As well, his friendly presence and demeanour helped lighten the mood at every session he was in. Runner-up was the impressive Tyson Klein, who only played one five-game session, but tore it up for 15 points in the process. Home Hardware impresario Stevie Fergusson also received a first-place vote; his schedule with the store clashes with the majority of sessions, but his occasional visits have show that he does have dual-threat potential.
Dual Threat of the Year: Seamus O’Connor (3rd award)
Probably the most obvious award in either league this season. Seamus O’Connor isn’t just the greatest dual threat of 2010; he’s the greatest dual threat of all-time. He split the season evenly between the two positions of skating goaltending, becoming the first player to play 100 games at each position in a single year. He scored 93 points FROM GOAL. When he skates, he’s still one of the top four in BUSH, and among regular goaltenders was the class of the leagues at .837. Even with ‘only’ 105 games on skates, he still notched a career-high 370 points. Not to mention he became a father for the first time and still found the time to keep up a full-time BUSH appearance schedule. With Justin Gordon and Lorne Bilinski falling away in 2010, Kyle Grenier and Terryn Stenseth limiting their goaltending appearances, and Dom Voser only skating when need be, there really isn’t a true dual threat to match him in either league right now. A distant runner-up was Nathan Robson, who didn’t play a lot of goal this year. If he decides to play more goal again in the future and continues to emerge as a skating threat, there may be a race one day.
Most Outstanding Defenceman: Graeme Orr (1st award)
One of two-ultra tight votes on the BUSH side, the race for the eastern league’s top D-man has to be decided by BUSH first-place votes. This shows a little bit of disconnect between the two leagues: for BUSH defencemen, the top BUSH votes all went to Graeme Orr, while the top VRH votes all went to Nathan Robson if they went anywhere at all. Regardless of order, they went 1-2 on all ballots with multiple BUSH votes, which shows how dominant they were on the point this year. For Graeme Orr, winning his first MOD seems like inevitable destiny; ever since his breakout 2006 campaign, he’s slowly been ascending toward this point. Once his skill caught up to his size and athletic ability, he would be a formidable force, and indeed he is; he is truly one of the best in BUSH. Nathan is a place in his skill development similar to Graeme was in 2006-07 – the secret’s out, and Robson will be a force to be reckoned should he come back to the Arrow Lakes (or if he gets his dream of a Cranbrook league going!).
Most Outstanding Goaltender: Seamus O’Connor (1st award)
Really, you had two choices this year in BUSH: would you go with consistently high play throughout the year, or would you go with the guy who lit it up like few had ever done and left? You took the former. Seamus’ 2010 was indeed superlative: facing a volume of shots that in any other year would be a record total, he powered through it with a .837 save percentage. He was the Most Outstanding Player of the DecaSession. And just to silence the Reitmeier vouchers once the ballots went out, he threw down a .895 on 145 saves in just two games (two!) on regulation nets in the final session of the year. O’Connor also redefined what a goalie could do stick with a stick, nearly picking 100 points from goal this season. Runner-up goes to Taylor Reitmeier, who notched a few first-place votes of his own. While one may go as far as to say he was the best goalie to play in this season, he didn’t play the whole season, and Seamus was nearly as lights-out all year long, a daunting presence and an amazing overall performance in net all season long, which gives him the nod and his long awaiting first MOG award. Honourable mention to Shem Hanna, who took a slight step back from last year as he transitioned to skating but was still among the best BUSH had to offer this year. Kyle Grenier also somehow got a first-place vote here.
Most Outstanding Player: Kyle Grenier (1st award)
On every single ballot submitted, whether from VRH or BUSH players, Grenier was either voted first or second among BUSH players en route to his first-ever MOP award. With Ben de Wit gone, this was the year he was expected to dominate the BUSH scoresheet, and dominate he did. Not only was he consistently first or second in nearly every session, he posted one of the highest season scoring averages in history with 3.58, and embarked on an astronomical streak of 38 consecutive 15-point sessions, something no one has ever come close to; not Elischer, not Rogers, not Sinclair, not Orr. As for the runner-ups, there’s a telling disconnect in perception between the two leagues: every VRH ballot that didn’t go to Grenier went to Lee Orr, who wasn’t even named by anyone in BUSH; every BUSH ballot that didn’t go to Grenier went to Taylor Reitmeier, who wasn’t even named by anyone in VRH.
Most Valuable Player: Kyle Grenier (1st award)
Similar to Most Outstanding Defenceman, this award was decided by BUSH first-place votes, and it again shows an interesting difference in perception between players in the two leagues. Every top BUSH vote from VRH went to Lee Orr; every top BUSH vote from BUSH players went to Grenier. Also telling of a disconnect was that a majority of second-place votes from BUSH players went not to Orr but to Seamus O’Connor. In the end, Kyle Grenier takes home MVP honours for the first time in his career, as he pushed BUSH to a record season with his fiery passion for Burton Hockey. Not only was he the dominant skater in the league all year long, but he also organised the bulk of the sessions, and saved many sessions from cancellation with last-minute telephone heroics. Despite only starting in 2004, and only becoming a regular in 2007, he now finds himself in the top six in all-time scoring. A well-deserved honour for a man whose Burton legacy is now entrenched alongside any of the originals; he joins K.J. O’Connor as one of just two non-Burton-originals to take home the award. Will it be three? Well, you just have to wait until you get to the bottom of the VRH section to see...
First All-Star Team
Kyle Grenier (2nd 1st team, 4th overall)
Seamus O’Connor (both at skater and at goaltender, 5th and 6th 1st team, 9th and 10th overall)
Graeme Orr (1st 1st team, 2nd overall)
Lee Orr (6th 1st team, 8th overall)
A pretty solid top three skating line-up emerged this year; Kyle and Lee were named first on all ballots, and Seamus on all but two. Graeme and Nathan Robson had a close battle for the final skating position. Seamus joins brother K.J. (2007) as the only player to be named to the First Team at two positions in the same year, and joins Lorne Bilinski and Justin Gordon as the only players to be named ten times to an all-star team at any position.
Second All-Star Team
Justin Gordon (7th 2nd team, 10th overall)
K.J. O’Connor (4th 2nd team, 6th overall)
Taylor Reitmeier (goaltender, 1st 2nd team, 1st overall)
Nathan Robson (1st 2nd team, 4th overall)
Troy Waldron (2nd 2nd team, 3rd overall)
With the First Team set, the Second Team fell right in place rather easily. As mentioned above, Justin joins Lorne and Seamus in the ten-time-selection club. After three First Team selections as a goalie, Nathan makes his first skating all-star team. Taylor is the only BUSH player to be named to his first all-star team this year. Interestingly, Oliver Koth-Kappus received a vote for the BUSH first-team for his successful summer sojourn. K.J’s two First Team votes also came from VRH.
This was truly the year that VRH finally became the equal of (and by the end of the year, many would say surpassed) its older counterpart across the mountains. This was a season carried on its back by two incredibly talented and dedicated goaltenders who in the process created a friendly-yet-competitive rivalry for the ages. Add that to more record-setting histrionics from VRH’s most dominant player ever, and the relentless perseverance of two loyal Swabian-Canadian brothers, and it was a season no one will ever forget.
Organiser of the Year: Bernie Koth-Kappus (1st award)
It seems as though this award was meant for Bernie. No one’s come close in the past two years in terms of putting sessions together. Taking over the mantle of organisation from Stefan Klopp, Bernie now has his VRH mailing list running like clockwork, which almost guarantees roller hockey action every weekend. This may be the first of many Organiser awards for our man Bernhart.
Comeback Player of the Year: Tony Sivilay (1st award)
Splitting the awards between both leagues presents an interesting conundrum for VRH: the boom period of the league is so recent that no one’s ever really had the chance to come back from anything. A lot of people opted to skip this part of the ballot altogether on the VRH side, when they did vote, it was for the DecaSession return of our long absent good friend Tony Sivilay, who bought the sweater and made the trip all the way to the West Kootenay to help challenge BUSH in the name of Vancouver Roller Hockey. The only other vote for a VRH player went to runner-up Eric Coutinho.
Most Sportsmanlike Player: Jordan Downey (1st award)
It’s always hard to choose a winner in the category from VRH, simply because there are so many great nominees that it’s hard to narrow down! ELEVEN players were nominated, and five different players received first place votes. It was competitive, but there did emerge somewhat of a consensus around Jordan Downey, who was named in some manner on all but one ballot. His jovial wit, goofball antics, and easy-going attitude brighten up every session he’s at, and his conduct on the rink is absolutely selfless. He also won a lot of admirers when he bolted to the aid of the fallen K.J. O’Connor at the DecaSession, first aid kit in hand, and helped to repair a fairly serious eyelid cut inflicted by an errant stick. The very worthy runners-up include Pat Elischer, who has remained quietly humble despite his impressive accomplishments, the friendly giant of the back end Jordan Barlow, and the happy, fair-minded presences of Dominik Voser and two-time award winner Ryan Disterheft, among others. It was not surprising to see a first place vote from BUSH go to Rob Hajdu, who sacrificed a Fuller Cup championship to help an undermanned BUSH squad in the name of good friends and good hockey.
Most Improved Player: Jordan Barlow (1st award)
Barlow had a strong debut in the last quarter of the 2009, but no one was really prepared for the way he ran the Ambleside court like a field marshal in 2010. By the middle of the season, he was generally considered to be the top defenceman in all of Burton Hockey. Even scarier, he found his scoring touch in the second half of the campaign, and began winning sessions outright. The sky is the limit for the powerful presence from Castlegar. Close behind was the man who finished third in VRH goalscoring, Sam Lam. No longer just a speedy sniper, Sam’s all-around game really emerged this season as he went toe-to-toe with some of Burton’s top scorers all season long and came out ahead more often than not. And he’s only 18; he may be back on this list again next year. Also in the running was Eric Coutinho, who burst from the pack in the last third of the season to begin posting big numbers on the scoresheet week-in, week-out. Perhaps a bit of league disconnect hurt him; Eric picked a fair number of votes from VRH players, including a first-place vote, but none from the BUSH side.
Rookie of the Year: Alex Elischer
Poor Marcus Keighron. If he had shown up almost any other year, this would probably be his award for the taking. Despite a somewhat late start to the season, he finished with 209 points in his rookie year and turned plenty of BUSH heads at Thanksgiving. He just had to show up during the same year as an upstart goalie from Lions Bay named Alexander Elischer, who played nearly 200 games in net, made over 3,000 saves, and nearly set the career shutout record in just one season. Nearly every session he played featured high shot volumes, and he still finished fourth in overall save percentage at .817. It should come as no surprise that Alex and Marcus finished 1-2 on every single ballot. In third place was Thomas Slivinski, who looked poised to give Marcus a run for top skating rookie before he relocated away from the Lower Mainland.
Dual Threat of the Year: Lorne Bilinski (3rd award)
It wasn’t an overly terrific year for dual-position players in VRH, but Lorne Bilinski still managed to solidify his position as VRH’s top dual threat, taking his third career title. His stats took a step back from previous years, but when he was on his game, especially on blades, he was as formidable as ever. If he can keep up a regular schedule in the new year, he will certainly be the favourite to repeat again. The only other player to receive first-place votes was Joern Hornhardt. Honourable mention to Dom Voser, who picked up a fair amount of second-place votes thanks to his excellent goaltending and steady skating.
Most Outstanding Defenceman: Jordan Barlow (1st award)
It was a two-horse race between Barlow and eight-time winner Oliver Koth-Kappus, who were named either first or second on every ballot except one (one second-place vote went to Lorne Bilinski), but Barlow carried the majority of ballots en route to his first MOD award. The control he has begun to possess over the rink, his long and precise reach, and his stonewalling physical presence makes him in the eyes of many VRH’s challenging skater to play against after Pat Elischer. Wily veteran Oliver certainly has not lost anything over the years; indeed, he’s improving and thriving in the higher level of competition both VRH and BUSH are providing; in his four-session BUSH sojourn this year, he was above the 3.00 PPG mark while playing defence.
Most Outstanding Goaltender: Alex Elischer (1st award)
Quite obviously a two horse race between Alex Elischer and Dominik Voser. Both played inhuman amounts of games; both got better as the season wore on; both raised their level of play when the pressure was on. In the end, the numbers went in Alex’s favour, .817-.794, aided by a stellar .896 session near the end of the season. Alex becomes the second rookie to take MOG honours, joining Nathan Robson (2003).
Most Outstanding Player: Pat Elischer (2nd award)
Two years in the league, two Most Outstanding Player awards. The overwhelming unanimous choice, Pat Elischer led VRH in scoring this season despite playing in fewer than half of its games. Recording the highest PPG in Burton Hockey history (3.72), he set the tone early in the season by utterly obliterating the all-time session scoring record with 63 points. In just two seasons, he’s climbed to third in all-time VRH scoring and eleventh overall. It’s rather funny how such a nice guy strikes utter terror into the hearts of his opponents on the rink. It’s Pat’s rarefied air; we’re just looking up at him breathing it. The runner-up? Brother Alex.
Most Valuable Player: Dominik Voser (1st award)
It was a wide-open race this year for VRH MVP, with many valuable candidates. For the first time ever, the MVP award goes to a full-time dedicated goaltender, and ‘dedicated’ is certainly the operative word when you are talking about Dom Voser’s 2010 season. Goaltending more games in one year than anyone had even played in one year before 2010 take true dedication. He also played more games within the confines of VRH than anyone else this year. And not only did he show up, he threw down impressive numbers, including two 180-save sessions, ten shutouts, and over 3,500 saves. In just an 18-month Burton Hockey career, Dom is already the all-time leader in games goaltended, saves, and every session volume milestone from 80-savers to 130-pluses. Before Dom, nailing down a goaltender was the hardest part of organising a session. Now, he’s such a dedicated presence that it’s the last thing anyone worries about. High-quality play and high dedication get you MVP awards. Doing it while playing goal is even more worthy, and that’s why Dom got our vote this year (not to mention being named MVP of both SuperSessions); he was either first or second-place on the VRH side on every ballot from both leagues’ players. Close behind were Pat Elischer, who led the western league in scoring, and the always dependable rocks of the league Oliver and Bernie Koth-Kappus, who once again showed why they may be the best friends Burton Hockey has ever had.
First All-Star Team
Jordan Barlow (1st 1st team, 2nd overall)
Alex Elischer (goaltender, 1st 1st team, 1st overall)
Pat Elischer (2nd 1st team, 2nd overall)
Stefan Klopp (6th 1st team, 9th overall)
Sam Lam (1st 1st team, 1st overall)
Pat was a unanimous first on every single ballot, Barlow was unanimous except for one ballot, and Alex was unanimous except for two (one first-place vote for Dom Voser and one for Bron Mach). It was a rather close battle for the last two spots between Sam, Stefan and Oliver Koth-Kappus. Alex and Sam make their first-ever all-star teams.
Second All-Star Team
Rob Hajdu (1st 2nd team, 1st overall)
Tony Hajdu (1st 2nd team, 2nd overall)
Marcus Keighron (1st 2nd team, 1st overall)
Oliver Koth-Kappus (5th 2nd team, 9th overall)
Dominik Voser (goaltender, 1st 2nd team, 1st overall)
Splitting the all-star teams between both leagues really helps get good players some long-overdue recognition. Combine that with the rise of a new crop of high-calibre talent in VRH, and it shows with Rob, Marcus and Dom all making their first all-star teams this year, joined by two-time all-star Tony and perennial fixture Oliver returning to the all-star line-up after a year’s absence. Honourable mentions go to Andrew Smart and Lorne Bilinski, who both received first- and second-team votes.
Most Dedicated Team
From my perspective, the highest honour in Burton Hockey. Simply put, these are the guys who have been there playing week-in, week-out. There’s no set limit on the number of players that can be named; just the limits players put on themselves by not coming. This year, we have a very large team of twelve players. You can see for yourselves the gap in games played these twelve guys had on the rest of the field. Let’s narrow that gap and make the team even bigger next year; we want all of you on this list!
Jordan Barlow (1st award)
Alex Elischer (1st award)
Kyle Grenier (2nd award)
Rob Hajdu (1st award)
Stefan Klopp (8th award)
Bernie Koth-Kappus (11th award)
Oliver Koth-Kappus (9th award)
Sam Lam (1st award)
Seamus O’Connor (5th award)
Lee Orr (7th award)
Nathan Robson (2nd award)
Dominik Voser (1st award)