The Crusaders awards night may of come earlier than planned, after being knocked out in the first round by the Bonnyville Pontiacs, but their were still plenty of accomplishments to celebrate.
The first award handed out on the night was the Vern Schultz Volunteer of the Year award. The Crusaders had many unbelievable volunteers to choose from, but ultimately the award was handed to Crusader box office attendant Maureen Tomkins. Maureen is the grandmother of former Crusader netminder Matt Tomkins and had been helping out the team for years. She was a elated to be handed the award and even gave a little speech thanking everybody.
Up next were the Crusader player awards. First up was the unsung hero award which again could’ve gone to a number of different players. Tanner Younghans ended up being the victor of the award after a season that saw him score 7 game-winning goals, good for second in the league, he proved to be an instrumental part of the Cru lineup after an offseason trade with the Camrose Kodiaks. His dedication to the organization was highlighted this year by his commitment to NAIT of the ACAC for the 2017/2018 season. For these reasons, Tanner earned his selection as your Unsung Hero for the 16/17 season!
The night continued on and soon after we saw some co-winners. Both Ben Sowa and Chase Torontow were named co-defenseman of the year. The two of them had career years in points and each reached the 200 games played mark in the AJHL, all with the Crusaders. For those reasons, they were both the top defensemen of the year.
Tyler Maltby was handed the Top Goalscorer award after scoring 38 goals: the most in the AJHL. Maltby soon found himself back on the stage, this time joined by Ty Readman after they both received the Top Point scorer award with 68 points a piece.
Other awards given out on the night included: Jacob Thomas became the 2016/17 Most Improved Player, Brandon Vogel was handed the Goaltender of the Year, Brendan Stafford was named the Rookie of the Year, Cam Reagan went home with the Coaches Award, and Brandon Wallis earned the Sportsmanship Award.
The biggest award of the night was not handed out to later on in the evening: the Most Valuable Player. The Crusaders had a number of players deserving of the award, Tyler Maltby after leading the league in goals, Matt Dykstra who was consistently great all season long and captain Ben Sowa who was the Crusaders top scoring defenseman. This years MVP went to Ty Readman. Readman not only led the Cru in scoring, but exemplified on and off the ice what it meant to be a Crusader. Ty excelled on both sides of the puck, played in all situations, and was a calming presence in the dressing room. For these reasons and many, many more, Ty Readman earned his selection as your Crusaders MVP.
After all the awards were handed out, the night was wrapped up with a farewell presentation to the graduating players and speeches from both General Manager Kyle Chase and Captain Ben Sowa.
The evening was an excellent way to wrap up the season. Let’s just hope next season we have to wait a little bit longer for the night.