Oil Kings Announce 2022-23 Team Awards Winners

March 25, 2023 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Edmonton Oil Kings News Release

Edmonton, AB - The Edmonton Oil Kings announced their 2022-23 Season Award winners ahead of their game Saturday afternoon against the Calgary Hitmen.

Every season the Oil Kings hand out the following Awards: Most Valuable Player, Kristians Pelss Memorial Award, Humanitarian of the Year, Top Scorer Award, Top Defenceman Award, Blue Willow Unsung Hero Award, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Player and Scholastic Award.

Below is the complete of this year's winners, along with the players who have won the award in the past.

Most Valuable Player

Gavin Hodnett (Winnipeg, MB) is the Oil Kings Most Valuable Player for the 2022-23 season.

To date, Hodnett leads the Oil Kings in scoring with 42 points (12G, 30A) in just 59 games played this season.

When it comes to the Oil Kings former first-round pick from the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, it's been the consistency in which he has played with this season that has landed him with the Club's most prestigious award.

As for any 16-year-old player in the WHL, there is an adjustment period and Hodnett was no different. After recording just four points (0G, 4A) in the first 15 games of his season, he returned from the 2022 IIHF World U-17 Hockey Challenge in mid-November ready to take over offensively and has gone on to put up 38 points (12G, 26A) over his last 43 games - nearly a 60-point pace over the course of a 68-game schedule.

Past Recipients

2021-22: Dylan Guenther

2020-21: Sebastian Cossa

2019-20: Matthew Robertson

2018-19: Trey Fix-Wolansky

2017-18: Trey Fix-Wolansky

2016-17: Davis Koch

2015-16: Dysin Mayo

2014-15: Tristan Jarry

2013-14: Tristan Jarry

2012-13: Keegan Lowe

2011-12: Michael St. Croix

2010-11: Mark Pysyk

2009-10: Mark Pysyk

2008-09: Torrie Jung

Kristians Pelss Memorial Award

Carter Kowalyk (St. Albert, AB) is the 2022-23 recipient of the Oil Kings Kristians Pelss Memorial Award.

This award is handed out to the player who best exemplifies the traits of late Oil Kings forward Kristians Pelss, a former WHL champion with the Oil Kings and Edmonton Oilers draft pick. He was known for his commitment to hard work on the ice, as well as his dedication to be a great teammate and member of our community off the ice.

Kowalyk earned this award by being an emotional leader for the team.

Through his tenacious defending, physical play and never shying away from protecting his teammates, he has become the ultimate teammate.

This season, at just 17-years-old, he has proven to be an effective shutdown defenceman in the WHL and has often taken on the toughest matchups with the opposition's top players while also always being one of the first players over the boards for a penalty kill.

Away from games, he has carried himself at a professional level by the way he prepares, takes care of his body and hones his craft in practices and video sessions with the coaching staff - by doing this, he has helped lead and guide a large contingent of first-year players and shown them what it means to be an Edmonton Oil King.

Past Recipients

2021-22: Carter Souch

2020-21: Jake Neighbours

2019-20: Ethan McIndoe

2018-19: Scott Atkinson

2017-18: Colton Kehler

2016-17: Davis Koch

2015-16: Aaron Irving

2014-15: Ben Carroll

2013-14: Curtis Lazar

Humanitarian of the Year

Rhett Melnyk (Fort Saskatchewan, AB) is the Oil Kings Humanitarian's of the Year for the 2022-23 season.

Since being acquired by the Oil Kings this past summer, he has made an instant impact on his hometown and made a commitment to give back to the community that raised him.

From minor hockey practices to school visits, blood drives, replacing local basketball nets, signing countless autographs and supporting dressing room attendant Declan at the 2023 Winter Special Olympics, he has truly done it all.

As captain of the Oil Kings, he leads the team not only on the ice, but off it as well, showing through his actions what the standard is for being a member of this organization.

Past Recipients

2021-22: Luke Prokop & Josh Williams

2020-21: Liam Keeler

2019-20: Ethan Cap

2018-19: Will Warm

2017-18: Conner McDonald

2016-17: Tyler Robertson

2015-16: Patrick Dea

2014-15: Travis Ewanyk

2013-14: Riley Keiser

2012-13: Travis Ewanyk

2011-12: Mark Pysyk

2010-11: Adrian Van de Mosselaer

2009-10: Rhett Rachinski

2008-09: Torrie Jung

Top Scorer Award

Gavin Hodnett (Winnipeg, MB) is the recipient of the Oil Kings Top Scorer Award for the 2022-23 season having registered 42 points (12G, 30A) this season, with two games remaining.

The first-year-forward has had one of the best season's ever by a 16-year-old in Oil Kings modern franchise history and becomes just the third-ever rookie to lead the Oil Kings in scoring in a season joining Tomas Vincour (2007-08) and Michael St. Croix (2009-10).

Past Recipients

2021-22: Dylan Guenther

2020-21: Jake Neighbours

2019-20: Riley Sawchuk

2018-19: Trey Fix-Wolansky

2017-18: Trey Fix-Wolansky

2016-17: Davis Koch

2015-16: Brett Pollock

2014-15: Brett Pollock

2013-14: Henrik Samuelsson

2012-13: Michael St. Croix

2011-12: Michael St. Croix

2010-11: Dylan Wruck

2009-10: Michael St. Croix

2008-09: Brenden Dowd & Jeff Lee

Top Defenceman Award

Vojtech Port (Jilhlava, Czechia) is the recipient of the Oil Kings Top Defenceman Award for the 2022-23 season.

After being acquired from the Red Deer Rebels just two games into the season, Port made an instant impact on the Oil Kings blueline.

The smooth skating, puck moving defenceman finished the season as the Oil Kings top point-producing rearguard with 17 points (4G, 13A) in 48 games and is also the fourth highest scoring rookie defenceman in the WHL this year.

Along with his offensive accolades, he was also a calming presence on the Oil Kings back-end through his ability to calmly transport pucks out of the defensive zone.

Since going down with a season-ending injury in February, his impact on the team's d-core has been greatly missed.

In January, he was ranked 157th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming NHL Draft.

Port becomes the first import player in Oil Kings franchise history to be named the Club's Top Defenceman.

Past Recipients

2021-22: Logan Dowhaniuk

2020-21: Matthew Robertson

2019-20: Matthew Robertson

2018-19: Conner McDonald

2017-18: Conner McDonald

2016-17: Will Warm

2015-16: Dysin Mayo

2014-15: Dysin Mayo & Ashton Sautner

2013-14: Cody Corbett & Griffin Reinhart

2012-13: Keegan Lowe

2011-12: Mark Pysyk

2010-11: Mark Pysyk

2009-10: Mark Pysyk

2008-09: Mark Pysyk

Blue Willow Unsung Hero Award

Marshall Finnie (Lethbridge, AB) is the 2022-23 recipient of the Vic Mah Trophy as this year's recipient of the Blue Willow Unsung Hero Award.

In just his first year in the WHL, Finnie has established himself as a punishing force through his physical style of play, which has also led to him becoming an instant fan favourite here in the Kingdom.

He currently sits sixth on the team in scoring with 21 points (7G, 14A).

In addition to his physicality, he has brought an unmatched compete level all season long and has become the team's most reliable faceoff man.

Over his last 12 games, he has won 177 of the 281 faceoffs he's taken (63.0%) and on March 21 in Swift Current, he set a regular-season franchise record for most faceoffs won (23) and taken (35) in a single-game.

Past Recipients

2021-22: Jalen Luypen

2020-21: No recipient

2019-20: Sebastian Cossa

2018-19: Andrew Fyten

2017-18: Tomas Soustal

2016-17: Tyler Robertson

2015-16: Lane Bauer

2014-15: Luke Bertolucci

2013-14: Ashton Sautner

2012-13: Cody Corbett

2011-12: No recipient

2010-11: Travis Ewanyk

2009-10: Braeden Laroque

2008-09: Henrik Tervonen

Rookie of the Year

Gavin Hodnett (Winnipeg, MB) is the Oil Kings Rookie of the Year for the 2022-23 season.

Hodnett enters this weekend eighth in the WHL rookie scoring race with 42 points (12G, 30A) and is the league's fourth highest scoring 16-year-old.

His 42 points is the third most by a 16-year-old in Oil Kings modern franchise history trailing only Michael St. Croix (46 points, 2009-10) and Dylan Guenther (59 points, 2019-20).

Past Recipients

2021-22: Jakub Demek

2020-21: Carson Latimer

2019-20: Dylan Guenther

2018-19: Vladimir Alistrov

2017-18: Matthew Robertson

2016-17: Trey Fix-Wolansky

2015-16: Brayden Gorda

2014-15: Andrew Koep

2013-14: Aaron Irving

2012-13: Edgars Kulda

2011-12: Curtis Lazar & Martin Gernat

2010-11: Griffin Reinhart

2009-10: Michael St. Croix

2008-09: Mark Pysyk

Most Improved Player

Cole Miller (Edmonton, AB) is the Oil Kings Most Improved Player for the 2022-23 season.

The second-year Oil Kings forward has made tremendous strides in his overall game throughout this season and is tracking to become a top-line centermen for the Club next season.

Over his past six games, he has been clicking along at a point per-game pace with six points (3G, 3A) in that span.

In January, he was ranked 179th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming NHL Draft.

Past Recipients

2021-22: Ethan Peters

2020-21: Jalen Luypen

2019-20: Jake Neighbours

2018-19: Carter Souch

2017-18: David Kope

Scholastic Award

Ethan MacKenzie (West Kelowna, BC) is the recipient of the Oil Kings Scholastic Award for the 2022-23 season.

He is currently enrolled in academic classes at Salisbury Composite High School as well as off-campus courses.

"Ethan has been extremely dedicated to his academics, setting high standards for himself," said Oil Kings Education Advisor Sharon Sereda. "As a student-athlete, Ethan manages to budget his time well, with the intense WHL schedule and several hockey commitments, Ethan consistently maintains an honor standing.

"Ethan's teachers and peers have nothing but praise and admiration for Ethan's commitment to his academics and appreciate his perseverance and positive attitude."

Past Recipients

2021-22: Braeden Wynne

2020-21: Ethan Peters

2019-20: Jake Neighbours

2018-19: Jake Neighbours

2017-18: Ethan Cap

2016-17: Ethan Cap

2015-16: Kyle Yewchuck

2014-15: Patrick Dea

2013-14: Dysin Mayo

2012-13: Cole Benson

2011-12: Rhett Rachinski

2010-11: Ryan Dech

2009-10: Mark Pysyk

2008-09: Rhett Rachinski

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