2012 Arena League Awards

Now that we have reached the end of the inaugural season of the Nakusp Arena League, it is time to dole out the year-end awards. Yes, it’s a bit odd to be handing out year-end awards in August, but there’s no point in waiting all the way until the end of December just to match it up with the VRH year-end awards, since there’s still lots of VRH (and maybe some BUSH) to be played. It’s time to celebrate the top players and most dedicated figures of the past three months in the Arena!

For previous years' winners, click here.

Organiser of the Year: Zac Wethal (1st award)

Runner-up: Nathyn McInnes

Quite simply, Zac was the entire reason roller hockey started at the Arena in the first place, and it was his presence that guided the league. Never before had a session gotten remotely close to 20 players in the Arrow Lakes outside of interleague play; Zac blew that out of the water with numerous sessions over 20 players, including an incredible 26 players back on 29 May, a Burton record unlikely to be broken. Kudos also go to Nate for stepping in and keeping the ship steady when Zac was not around. Each week, either Zac or Nate were responsible for both opening and closing the rink and for collecting rink fees from the players, which would up being a substantial amount of money by the end of year. Without them, there was simply no access to the Arena, and thus no hockey.

Comeback Player of the Year: Brodie Yano (1st award)

Runner-up: Dallas Sinclair; Others receiving votes: Ryan Struck, Laird Bilinski

After five years away from roller hockey, Brodie returned to an indoor league on a regulation-sized rink with big nets; a big difference from the games he used to play back in Burton. For others, that may have been a huge adjustment, but for Brodie it was nothing, as it was the same rink and same nets he’s been playing in for the past 25 years whether in minor hockey or in Commercial during the winter. After shaking off the roller rust in the first Arena session, he went on to dominate the Arena goal. He was easily the top goalie this season and perhaps even the top player overall. As for the runners-up, Dallas’ comeback was truly remarkable: after six years away from any sort of hockey whatsoever following a massive knee reconstruction, he came back to a rink covered in grime following the Canada Day celebration and still easily led his team in scoring first time out. Ryan’s absence from roller blades was an astounding 12 years, but he grabbed a third star in his lone session on skates this season. Laird spent a good year on the shelf before making his way up from Burton, where he debuted in the Arena with a stellar .851 his first time out.

Most Sportsmanlike Player: Ryan MacDonald (1st award)

Runner-up: Tyson Cann; Others receiving votes: James Hewlitt, Jacob LaPlante, Kellan Nishida, Brett Zeleznik

With so many players this season (46 in total), there were plenty of candidates for this award, as you had every type of personality in the dressing room and on the rink. All six of these guys would have been great choices for this award, quite honestly; they all came to the rink with great attitude session in, session out.

Most Improved Player: Lee Orr (1st award)

Runner-up: Kalum Stevens; Others receiving votes: Ben Gardner

An odd situation where the all-time leading scorer in Burton history somehow takes home the honour of Most Improved Player. After the first four Arena sessions, Lee was nearly invisible, averaging a frustrating half-a-point a game and wondering whether he’d ever adjust to the Arena. Over the course of June, something clicked, and by July, he was not only scoring 2.00 PPG but leading sessions outright. For Kalum, it was a tale of two seasons as well; after taking off a month’s worth of sessions, he came back big at the end of June with a third-star performance.

Rookie of the Year: Zac Wethal (category A), Ryan MacDonald (category B)

Runners-up: Kellan Nishida (category A), Jacob LaPlante (category B); Others receiving votes: Nathyn McInnes (A), Kris James (A), Colton Dachwitz (A); Tyson Cann (B)

This year’s Arena League presents an interesting situation in which to define exactly what constitutes a rookie. Normally, this award goes to the top player who had never before played Burton Hockey before this season. The issue here is that the Arena League was in its first year, and the league traced its origins just as much, or more, from Commercial hockey and the Falcons midgets as it did from Burton; after all, they never counted Gretzky as a rookie in the NHL because he’d already played in the WHA. So for this year and this year only, since next year it won’t be an issue now that the league is established, we have two separate definitions: A) one for players who never played Burton previously, and B) one for players bantam age or younger. It’s a bit weird calling Zac a rookie with all of his hockey experience, but of the players never before featured on this website before this season, the stats say it all; most notably, he was second in PPG in the Arena this year. Kellan was certainly in the mix for the award all season long, placing in the star points in half the sessions and leading the final two sessions of the year. In the second category, Ryan and Jake were the class of the under-17 crowd, and it was a very difficult choice for voters with Ryan likely getting the nod due to playing more games this year and thus having a more consistent presence in the league throughout the season.

Dual Threat of the Year: Kris James (1st award)

Runner-up: Ryan Struck; Others receiving votes: Dugan McInnes

Ah, the dual threats: the guys who save sessions by volunteering to go in net even though they’re usually skaters (or, in Ryan’s case, volunteer to play out even though they’re goalies). Of the six skater-slash-goalies this season, the top dual threat was Kris, who not only had one of the highest PPGs in the entire league but also wound up third in goaltending, including two sessions above .820.

Most Outstanding Defenceman: TIE – Lance Beingessner (1st award); James Hewlitt (1st award)

Others receiving votes: Luke Krbyla, Lee Orr

In 5-on-5 roller hockey, the defencemen often take a back seat to the attacking forwards, especially when the positions often change every time a player subs off. Essentially, this was a three-way vote split between Lance, James, and Luke, with Lee Orr getting consideration as well. Lance and James, the two defencemen who played the most games this season after Lee, ended up tying for first place and thus split the award.

Most Outstanding Player: K.J. O’Connor (2nd award)

Runner-up: Brodie Yano

This category was rather interesting: would the award go to the forward whose stats were far ahead of every other forward, or the goalie whose stats were far ahead of every other goalie? K.J. and Brodie were both dominant all year at their positions and often won games by themselves. With all things being equal in terms of quality of play, the tiebreaker for voters may have been games played, which meant K.J. was showing dominance twice as much. Had Brodie played just a session or two more, perhaps it would have been his. This is K.J.’s second MOP win, his first coming back in the 2007 BUSH season. Grenier and Wethal were the third-place choices on most ballots.

Most Valuable Player: Zac Wethal (1st award)

Runner-up: K.J. O’Connor; Others receiving votes: Ryan Bateman, Kyle Grenier, Kellan Nishida, Lee Orr

What is an MVP? With so many talented players in the league, many qualities came into play for voters. Is it who was purely the best player? Who was the most dedicated player? The most sportsmanlike? Who helped the league the most? Someone who's not necessarily the top in any of those but manages to balance all of them the best? In very tight voting, the first MVP of the Arena League is the man who founded it, Zac Wethal.

First All-Star Team

For the Arena League, five skaters, regardless of position or games played, plus one goaltender were chosen for each All-Star Team. Seven of the eleven players voted onto the teams placed on a roller hockey all-star team for the first time. Lee makes it onto the second team by the skin of his teeth, edging out Colton Dachwitz and Damin Devlin. Also notable is Kris James being voted onto the team both at skater and at goaltender.

Ryan Bateman (1st 1st team, 2nd overall)

Kyle Grenier (4th 1st team, 6th overall)

Kellan Nishida (1st 1st team, 1st overall)

K.J. O’Connor (3rd 1st team, 8th overall)

Zac Wethal (1st 1st team, 1st overall)

Brodie Yano (goaltender, 1st 1st team, 1st overall)

Second All-Star Team

Jesse Cann (1st 2nd team, 1st overall)

Dylan Hascarl (1st 2nd team, 1st overall)

Kris James (1st 2nd team, 1st overall)

Kris James (goaltender, 2nd 2nd team, 2nd overall)

Andrew Likness (1st 2nd team, 1st overall)

Lee Orr (3rd 2nd team, 10th overall)

Most Dedicated Team

The highest honour in Burton Hockey. Simply put, these are the guys who have been there playing week-in, week-out, which is the most important thing you can do for your league – more important than any goal, assist, or save. 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, eleven players played more games than anyone else, and those are the people honoured on this list.

Ryan Bateman (1st award)

Kyle Grenier (3rd award)

James Hewlitt (2nd award)

Ryan MacDonald (1st award)

Dugan McInnes (1st award)

Nathyn McInnes (1st award)

Kellan Nishida (1st award)

K.J. O’Connor (3rd award)

Lee Orr (9th award)

Zac Wethal (1st award)

Brett Zeleznik (1st award)


Lee wrote on August 05, 2012 @ 18:57:50 PST
Nice work Kyle! Great job putting it all together and thanks for everything you do. Thanks also to Zac for setting up the Arena league.
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