KIJHL awards proof Brock Palmer is dynamite
Nitros coach Derek Stuart also honoured
Brock Palmer translated a dominating 50-goal, 98-point season into the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s (KIJHL) Most Valuable Player award.
Like the divisional awards, these are voted on by the 20 teams.
The Coaldale, Alta. product is the league’s lone 50-goal scorer, which helped him also earn the league’s Top Scorer Award. He capped off the regular season on a 10-game point streak in which he put up 12 goals and 21 points. He led the league with 13 game stars.
“That is pretty crazy,” said Palmer of being the MVP. “There are some good players in this league. That’s pretty cool, that’s awesome.”
Palmer, who has 237 points in 141 regular season games in three seasons, joked he never thought in a million years that his goal total would surpass his assists.
“It was a pretty crazy year that way. The whole year I just kept getting bounces and bounces. Most of them were pretty lucky,” he said. “They just kept coming.” Palmer credited his scoring prowess to some luck.
“All the ones I should have scored I missed, and then the ones I shouldn’t have, I scored,” he joked.
Compared to last season, Palmer says he’s grown a lot as a player, noting his speed has been better as he focused on that during the off-season, which helped him dominate. He also managed to continue putting up points while playing with a variety of linemates since head coach Derek Stuart likes to change lines frequently.
Palmer was reunited with Keegan McDowell, which he enjoyed as they had a lot of success last season. He also saw time with rookie Beau Larson at the start, as well as Jett Saharchuk, who he loves playing with.
“We have a pretty deep group of forwards,” he said.
What stands out to Palmer about his season is consistency. He was held off the scoresheet just seven times in 49 games. He kicked off the season with a hat-trick and four points. He had two five-point games, the first on Oct. 26 against Revelstoke and the other against Golden on Nov. 25. What he’s loved about the season is the group in the dressing room, who he spends a lot of time with.
Stuart is the other Dynamiter to claim a league-wide award, taking the Coach of the Year honours, to add to his divisional award. Stuart guided the team to first overall with 40 wins.
“Our biggest unexpected challenge was how good our division was this year,” said Stuart. “Four of the top 11 teams are from our division. There weren’t any “easy” points like there had been in years past. We had to earn every divisional point we got.”
Hunter Young of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks earned the Top Goalie Award. Young posted a record of 12-6-2 in 21 games. He had one shutout with a 2.15 goals against average and .937 save percentage. Young also had the best goals saved above average (GSAA) in the league at 23.12.
It’s a special feeling for Young to earn this award.
“I’ve faced quite a bit of adversity throughout my career and I’ve just kept battling and moving forward, so to be recognized for this award means a lot,” says Young, of Okotoks, Alta. “With all the great goalies in this league, it’s just a good feeling to receive this award and makes all the work I’ve put in worth it.”
This has been one of the best season’s Young has had playing – enjoying the ups and downs the Nitehawks have faced.
“My teammates, coaches, and team staff have been amazing and have been a huge part of my success this season,” added Young. “Being a competitive goalie, it’s been great to have people around me who have the same goals and compete level as me. I find that has really helped me reach a higher level as a player and I’m thankful for that.”
Princeton Posse veteran blueliner Noah Brusse, earned the Top Defenceman Award. The 20-year-old from Whistler had a career season with 12 goals and 39 points in 47 games. In 177 career games, Brusse has 20 goals and 83 points to go with 281 penalty minutes.
Brusse’s coach, Mark McNaughton said this about him, when he became the Posse’s all-time franchise leader in games played. “Noah has grown a tremendous amount in his time here. Year one he was coming to us asking if he was going to play or not. Year two was full of big hits, trips to the penalty box and frustrating talks about managing his offensive expectations,” said McNaughton.
“Year three Noah’s role really grew into a top pair defenceman at our level and with that he had to manage the workload and to learn how to be mentally tough even when he was exhausted. His focus this season has been about pushing his team to win since day one and we see the impact that has on his teammates everyday.”
Rookie of the Year honours went to Kelowna Chiefs forward Porter Dawson, who put up 23 goals and 63 points in 47 games, which led all KIJHL rookies in scoring. The Kelowna product finished averaging 1.3 points per game and was poised to reach the 72 points that Ryan Bulach put up for the Sicamous Eagles in the 2005/06 season in 50 games.
In an interview with the KIJHL earlier this season, Dawson said he put pressure on himself following a bad season with the Okanagan Rockets. He knew he had more to give. Dawson believes his willingness to work hard each game is what makes him effective. He also cares to make the right play and be unselfish.
The KIJHL playoffs get underway this evening (Feb. 28).
Lead image: KIJHL leading scorer and MVP Brock Palmer of the Kimberley Dynamiters. KIJHL photo