With more than half the minor hockey regular season in the rearview mirror, the race to crown the 2016 HockeyNow Minor Hockey Player of the Year in B.C., Alberta and Ontario is in full swing.
The preliminary lists are beginning to take shape, but there is still lots of time for players in all three regions to make their marks on the season and earn a spot among our 10 provincial finalists come July.
Our Minor Player of the Year Award aims to honour not just great hockey players, but great people as well. Our selection committee, headed by retired NHL defenceman Dave Babych and International Scouting Services founder and head scout Dennis MacInnis, continue to narrow the field in search of the player in each province who best exemplifies what the award stands for. They aren't just looking for talent, but players who work hard in school and have had a positive impact on their communities.
This month's lists are chalked full of young men who are doing their best to excel in all the areas that make our game great, both on and off the ice.
Our search continues down the home stretch as we inch closer to playoffs and as the big announcement nears in July.
Preliminary list BC 2001s, February 2016
Bowen, Jason: Chilliwack A1 (PCBHL)
Tied for scoring lead at recent Tim Jardine Bantam AAA Showcase and selected to All Star team. Equally adept at scoring goals as he is at passing the puck. A well-rounded talent on offence with many weapons in his arsenal.
Bulawka, Max: Bant Prep (CSSBP)
Skilled play making centre with excellent vision and soft hands with the ability to pick apart defenses with his vision and slick passing.
Horning, Connor: POE Bant Prep (CSSBP)
A stay at home D-man. A reliable defensive zone player that can get the puck up quickly to his forwards. Plays with poise and confidence in all situations and can log a ton of minutes when required. Has a very high panic threshold when being pressured by opposing forecheckers.
Leyh, Ethan: Yale Ban. Prep (CSSBP)
Can play with anyone. Good neutral-zone player. Looks for the open man. Reads the play well. Sees the ice. Knows where his teammates are all the time. Excellent Skater. Creates scoring opportunities for his teammates. Good playmaker.
Mutala, Sasha: BWC A1 (PCBHL)
A skilled goal-scorer. Has explosive smooth strides. Very good top speed. Can burn D-men with moves and puck handling. Shoots the puck very well and accurate. Hard to handle if you're a defender.
Rizzo, Massimo: BWC A1 (PCBHL)
One of the most complete bantam players out there. Can do it all in every situation. He wins face-offs. He skates fast and has explosive strides. Good puck protection. Creates scoring chances off the rush or by forcing a turnover from hounding the puck carrier and taking the body. Has a high compete level.
Sukunda, Alek: BWC A1 (PCBHL)
He makes great plays defensively and shuts the top players down. Calm, plays under pressure and very good outlet passes. Plays in all positions and logs top minutes each game. Very reliable. Has top-2 pairing WHL potential.
Svejkovsky, Lukas: Delta Bantam Prep (CSSBP)
Excellent acceleration that he uses to create offensive scoring chances. He has an excellent wrist shot and loves to shoot the puck.
Van de Leest, Jackson: Yale Ban. Prep (CSSBP)
Jumps into the play - good offensive instincts. Knows how to contain his man down low. Makes a good first pass out of his zone. Uses his partner well. Communicates well. Covers for his partner when he is in trouble.
Williams, Josh: Yale Ban. Prep (CSSBP)
Showed star potential. A scoring threat whenever he is on the ice. Reads the play well. Excellent Skater. Strong on his skates. Good anticipation. Plays well away from the puck. Good Shot. Makes soft passes. Finesse player.
Preliminary list AB 2001s, February 2016
Browne, Ethan: SP Flyers (AMBHL)
A PP wizard. This guy is dangerous with any room on the ice. Big solid, balanced center that has some explosive first few steps. Great one-time slap shot, usually from the top of circle on right side.
Byram, Bowen: Leth Gldn Hawks (AMBHL)
Remarkably gifted offensive player with natural play-making ability. An excellent skater with good speed who can change gears without hesitation and loves carrying the puck. Possesses a hard, accurate point shot.
Chorney, Carter: SP Flyers (AMBHL)
Quality two-way player that does everything well. Is adept at taking face-offs, particularly in close and late situations. Has good puck protection abilities and is a solid playmaker.
Dach, Kirby: Fort Saskatchewan (AMHL)
Excellent skating ability and plus speed. Is a crafty offensive player with very good play-making ability that makes those around him better. Possesses naturally-gifted hands and changes speeds effectively.
Dyck, Carson: Leth Gldn Hawks (AMBHL)
Speedy little offensive-minded player with good acceleration and the ability to handle the puck at high speeds. Possesses plenty of creativity, anticipation ability, and hockey sense.
Horon, Michael: Leth Gldn Hawks (AMBHL)
Combative two-way forward that loves to get involved physically and plays well on both sides of the puck. A quality playmaker with underrated skill that can feed his line-mates the puck and has passing ability.
Keeler, Liam: Edm. SSAC (AMBHL)
Natural offensive forward with excellent hockey sense and two-way ability. Smart, heady winger who is always moving his feet, constantly looking to make an impact on the ice.
Krebs, Peyton: Rocky Mtn Raiders (AMBHL)
Creative offensive player with outstanding hockey sense. Always knows where to be on the ice and can create plays out of nowhere thanks to his exceptional anticipation skills and shiftiness. One of the best skaters from his draft class.
Robertson, Matthew: SP Flyers (AMBHL)
The total package on defence. Exhibits the type of poise and composure with the puck that one would expect from a 10-year veteran. Has excellent size and is efficient at clearing the front of the net and gaining possession of the puck in the corners.
Smallwood, Jakin: Leduc Oil Kings (AMBHL)
Well-rounded forward who plays a strong two-way game and has well above-average play-making skills. A strong passer who can find his teammates all over the ice. Is a good neutral zone player.
Preliminary list ON 2000s, February 2016
Busby, Dennis: Barrie (ETAmn)
Excellent two-way defender with superb defensive skills and skating ability. A mobile defender with long, fluid strides and excellent agility. A solid puck-handler that moves the puck up ice efficiently.
Chisholm, Declan: Barrie (ETAmn)
Smart two-way defender with very good mobility and footwork. Played in all game situations and had an impact for Team Canada at the recent 2016 Youth Olympics.
Holmes, Hunter: Niagara North (SCTA)
Solid two way game. Possesses creativity, anticipation and hockey sense. A defensively conscientious player that contributes on both sides of the puck and uses his physicality to make a difference in all three zones.
Lalonde, Owen: Windsor (AliMin)
Excellent two-way defender with good offensive skills and skating ability. Has a good point shot with quality release and can play the point on the power play.
McBain, Jack: Don Mills (GTHLmn)
Very good size and strength center. Captain. Skating is average with choppy stride. Puck and stick skills are very good. Showed good offensive instincts in and around the net. Early OHL pick in 2016 draft.
McShane, Allan: Tor Marlboro (GTHL)
A skilled play making centre with excellent vision and soft hands. A good puck-handler who makes those around him better and is effective at utilizing his teammates. Has underrated goal-scoring ability and a plus shot.
Merkley, Ryan: Tor Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
Excellent skating ability and effortless stride. Can change gears at will without losing a beat, even when carrying the puck. Can find teammates all over the ice with pinpoint precision and accuracy.
Roberts, Connor: Grey-Bruce (SCTA)
A big-bodied centre with natural goal-scoring ability and a plus shot. Extremely effective down low and in front of the goal as a result of his size and puck protection abilities. Very difficult to knock off the puck.
Stratis, Peter: Miss. Rebels (GTHLmn)
One the most complete and OHL-ready of the defenceman. Slick skater able to keep up with anyone. Reads play extremely well. Showed a nice shot that he was able to get off quick. Has the size to excel at the next level and projects as a complete two-way defender.
Vallati, Giovanni: Vaughan (GTHLmn)
Excellent SliverStick showcase - stood out. Best player on average team. Strong two-way game. Good rushing defenseman. Has really improved his skating and overall game since last viewing. Showed very good puck patience while running the PP. Must have played every second shift - I like this player. Early pick.
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