Chiefs Announce 2021-22 Team Awards
The Spokane Chiefs have unveiled their team awards for the 2021-22 season. The organization hands out eight awards each year: Humanitarian of the Year, Scholastic Player of the year, Ken Rabel Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, John "Hitman" Hern Best Defenseman, Player of the Year and Players' Player.
Humanitarian of the Year
Graham Sward has been selected as the Spokane Chiefs 2021-22 Humanitarian of the Year and named the U.S. Division's nominee for the same honor. Sward is one of four finalists, one from each division in the WHL, for the Western Hockey League's Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy as league Humanitarian of the Year.
The Spokane Chiefs' Humanitarian of the Year award seeks to recognize the Chief who exemplifies excellence both on and off the ice, and serves as a role model and leader to all.
Sward has been a leader on and off the ice this season for Spokane. Named to the Chiefs' leadership group at the start of the year, the 18-year-old defenseman has been a stalwart on the blue line leading Spokane defensemen with 10 goals, 33 assists and 43 points in 57 regular season games.
Sward took charitable initiative on two different charitable endeavors this season: his personal Movember campaign and leading a blood drive, with Brandon Wheat King Jake Chiasson, in their hometown over the holiday break.
With an initial fundraising goal of $700, the Abbotsford, B.C. native created a Movember campaign, growing a mustache in symbolic support of men's health screenings and cancer research.
Sward lost his grandfather to cancer earlier this season, encouraging him to get involved in some way. On his Movember campaign page, his stated goal was to "help raise money for all the grandpas, dads, brothers, sons, coaches and teammates affected by men's cancers," and he was wildly successful as family, friends and fans poured in with support and helped him raise over $3,000.
He has become a Hockey Gives Blood Player Ambassador and helped encourage locals in his hometown to donate on December 22 with Abbotsford Hockey Gives Blood at the Abbotsford Blood Bank.
Scholastic Player of the Year
Spokane Chief Jake Gudelj not only moved away from his North Vancouver, B.C. home to take on his first WHL season as a 16-year-old, but, as with all high school-aged players in the WHL, took on a number of online high school courses. After completing Physics and Social Studies programs, with an average score of 95 percent in the first semester, he has been taking Chemistry and Accounting in the second.
For his efforts, Gudelj has been named the Spokane Chiefs Scholastic Player of the Year.
"Jake's academic performance, especially as a WHL rookie, is extraordinary," Chiefs Education Coordinator Joe Everson said.
Gudelj appeared in 51 games in his first season as a Chief and recorded three goals and six points.
At the end of the season, the league awards the top Scholastic Player of the Year with the Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Trophy. A Chief has won the league honor three times and the league's Scholastic Team of the year once in 2016.
After graduating high school, Gudelj and all Chiefs will have the option to take college courses while still playing in the WHL. For each season played in the WHL, a player is awarded with a one-year post-secondary scholarship, which includes tuition, fees and books.
A player is able to attend any post-secondary or career-enhancing institution of his choice, including universities, colleges, technical institutes, trade schools, or any other institution which will help the player achieve his academic and career goals.
Ken Rabel Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year
Spokane Chiefs captain Bear Hughes has been named the organization's Ken Rabel Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year. Hughes, who recently signed a tryout agreement with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, finished his 20-year-old season as the Chiefs' leading scorer with 24 goals and 67 points.
The Chiefs' recognition is named after Ken Rabel, a former security guard who manned the Chiefs' bench going back to the team's years in the Spokane Coliseum and became a friend to the players. Mr. Rabel always appreciated the players who would play the game in an honest and hard fashion.
In two full seasons as a Chief, Hughes scored 42 goals and dished out 74 assists for 116 points in 127 career games. The Washington Capitals selected the Post Falls, Idaho native in the fifth round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
At the end of the season, the league awards the Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year with the Brad Hornung Trophy. Tyler Johnson is the last Chief to win the league honor, in 2011.
Rookie of the Year
The Spokane Chiefs have named defenseman Saige Weinstein as the organization's Rookie of the Year. Of the 10 first-year skaters on the roster, Weinstein finished third in scoring with 14 points, including 13 assists, and had the second-most games played with 59. Weinstein was one of three 16-year-olds on the roster, joined by Kooper Gizowski and Jake Gudelj.
Both Weinstein and Gizowski were a part of the Canada Black club that won the gold medal at the 2021 Capital City Challenge and missed four Chiefs games.
Weinstein is just the seventh defenseman since 2000 to be named Chiefs' Rookie of the Year and just the fourth 16-year-old blueliner to earn the honor.
John "Hitman" Hern Best Defenseman
After leading the Spokane Chiefs blue-liners in goals, assists and points, Graham Sward has been named the organization's John "Hitman" Hern Defenseman of the Year.
Sward finished his third season as a Chief with a career-high 10 goals, 33 assists and 43 points. Of his 33 assists, which were third-most on the Chiefs, 19 came on the power play and his 24 points on the man-advantage were second only to Bear Hughes' 31.
The Abbotsford, B.C. native finished the regular season ranked among the top 15 defensemen in the Western Hockey League in goals and total points and the among top 10 defensemen in the league in assists.
The 18-year-old was recently rated 93rd overall in the NHL's Central Scouting final listing for the top 2022 NHL Draft Prospects, up from 148th in the mid-term rankings.
Player of the Year
Goaltender Mason Beaupit has been named the Spokane Chiefs Player of the Year. The 18-year-old finished the season 20-22-3-1 with a 3.63 GAA and .893 SV%.
The Surrey, B.C. native was recently rated 5th overall in the NHL's Central Scouting final listing for the top 2022 NHL Draft Prospect goaltenders. Beaupit was on the winning side at the CHL's Kubota Top Prospect Game, stopping all 16 shots he faced in a 3-1 decision for Team White.
Throughout the season, Beaupit faced over 40 shots on goal seven times and made 35 or more saves on 12 separate occasions, going 5-6-0-1 in those match-ups. Fifteen times this season beaupit allowed two or fewer goals, going 11-5-0-0 in those starts.
In his 20 wins, Beaupit had a 2.27 GAA and a .926 SV%.
Over his final 11 starts, with the Chiefs battling for a playoff spot, Beaupit was 6-5-0-0 with a 2.88 GAA and .914 SV%. He won six straight stars from February 25 through March 12.
On the last day of the regular season, with the Chiefs needing a win to clinch a playoff spot, Beaupit made 35 saves in 37 chances to help secure a 4-2 win at Victoria.
Captain Bear Hughes has been selected by his peers as the Spokane Chiefs Players' Player for the 2021-22 season. The honor was voted on by the 25 players on the Chiefs roster at the end of the season.
Hughes was named Chiefs' captain in January and led the team in all offensive categories with 24 goals, 43 assists and 67 points in 64 games, which all set career highs. Hughes, who played in all situations, tied for the team lead with seven power play goals, led the team with 24 power play assists and scored two shorthanded goals.
The Post Falls, Idaho native ended his junior career with 42 goals, 74 assists and 116 points in 127 games as a Chief in two full seasons.
After the season ended, Hughes signed an amateur agreement with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.
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