MVP: Sorry Tyson Barrie, you were named the Kelowna Rockets MVP last season but you will have to take a back seat to this man after a sensational first half. Nineteen year-old goaltender Adam Brown is my choice as MVP after 36 games. Brown has been consistent all season long and is the main reason why this team is in the mix in the Western Conference standings. Plagued by giving up soft goals and up and down play last season, Brown has been 'lights out' night after night. The statistics tell the story. Brown is among the top three goaltenders in the WHL in goals against average and save percentage. Those numbers are impressive considering he faces a lot of shots, plays huge minutes and doesn't play in front of star studded defensive core. I wish Adam Brown was two inches taller. If he was, NHL scouts would have to give him a long look. A sensational first half may force scouts to roll the dice on this technically sound goaltender.
Best Defenceman: No question, it's Tyson Barrie. Outside of Brown, Barrie is the Rockets best player. The 19 year-old can control the tempo of the game and makes everyone on his team look better. Why? Barrie has the ability to move the puck up ice by himself when the Rockets are scrambling in their own zone and can quickly put the puck in the hands of awaiting forwards with ease. No one quarterbacks the power play better than Barrie.
Best forward: It's a nice problem to have when you can pick two players as candidates for this award. If I had to pick just one, Mitchell Callahan's strong opening half edges out line-mate Shane McColgan. Why? Callahan brings so many facets to the table. He can score, check and fight. What stands out for me is Callahan's offensive production outside of power play time. Twenty (20) of Callahan's 33 points this season have come even strength.
Top rookie: Considered to have one of the highest hockey I.Q's on the team, 17 year-old Colton Sissons is my selection as first half rookie of the year. Sissons battle level along the wall is tremendous for a first year player. A big body, Sissons is the first to loose pucks and wins more battles than he losses along the boards. You have to remember, Sissons isn't draft eligible until next season. A late birthday in November meant he opened the season at 16. Damon Severson is running a close second to Sissons after a solid first half.
Best hands in-tight: Geordie Wudrick. No one on the Rockets is better at close range than Wudrick. His quick hands with the puck five feet from the net is lethal. Wudrick won't fly by you with his skating ability but when he gains control behind the opposition net, be prepared for something good to happen.
Best role player: Jesse Astles. Yep. The 17 year-old now appears to realize his role on this team. Not afraid to fight, Astles has seven majors this season after recording just four in his rookie campaign. Astles has essentially taken over the role from Mitchell Callahan, who will still fight, but is of greater value with his presence on the ice, not in the penalty box serving a five minute penalty. Callahan has six fighting majors, one fewer than Astles.
Most respected teammate: I had to include this category after an overwhelming majority of players glowingly talked about this teammate. While you don't find his name on the score sheet often, he does whatever is asked of him for the betterment of the team. He is a true leader in every sense of the word and should wear the 'C' next season. Who is this unsung hero? Spencer Main.
Sleeping giant: Brett Bulmer. Once Bulmer adds consistency to his game, look out. When Bulmer is on, he's a game breaker. When he's off, you scratch your head wondering where did this guy go? A good skater, play maker and shooter, Bulmer has it all...plus he's blessed with good size. The complete package? If he figures out what is needed to be consistent every night he will be a top 20 point getter in the WHL. Guaranteed.
Agree? Disagree? Let the debate begin by leaving a comment. This is opinion based. No comment is the wrong answer.
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