I thought it was time to issue my first half team awards at the 36 game mark.
Here are my winners. If you disagree, leave a comment and tell me what you see.
MVP: Colton Sissons.
The 18 year-old leads the Rockets in goals (20), power play goals (10) and is the teams most consistent worker. He is hard on pucks, will engage you in the corner and never gives up no matter what the scoreboard indicates. The youngest captain in Kelowna Rockets history, Sissons is attempting to become the first forward since Scott Parker to be taken in the opening round of the NHL draft.
Runner up: Shane McColgan. McColgan leads the team in points, something he accomplished as a 17 year-old last season. On most nights, McColgan is just behind Sissons in the hard work department. His 26 assists leads the team in that category.
Most Improved: Cole Martin.
Not much was expected from the 17 year-old American when he cracked the opening day roster. His, as cool as a cucumber exterior, and willingness to compete has seen the Arlington Texas resident make huge strides on a young defensive core. Choosing to swim rather than sink in the deep waters he entered as a WHL rookie, Martin is proving he can play with the big boys despite weighing just 170 pounds.
Runner Up: Jesse Lees.
Lees has played in just 16 games because of injury and the under 17's. If Lees was healthy and had played more, he could have been my winner at mid season. Every time I see him play I see a huge upside.
Best Defenceman: Cole Martin.
Martin logged big minutes on a recent Saskatchewan road trip and played against the other teams top lines. Not bad for a 17 year-old who still needs to fill out. Forget the point totals. They are irrelevant. A minus 1 rating for someone who has played 34 games is impressive. Watch specifically how Martin recovers after being beat. No Rockets defender does it better in recovering after being caught flat footed.
Runner Up: Damon Severson. You can't ignore his 20 points and hard shot. Severson will be a high draft pick and will likely be a shoe-in to win the award next season.
Unsung Hero: Mitchell Chapman.
With the trade of Colton Jobke to Regina, the 19 year-old was relied upon to play an increased shutdown role. Rarely on the score sheet, Chapman blocks shots, fights the other teams toughest player and does whatever the coaches ask of him.
Runner Up: Carter Rigby. The 17 year-old's 10 goals after 29 games is impressive. With 16 points, Rigby is the top scorer among first year players and has arguable one of the heaviest shots on the team. Rigby could be more selfish and shoot the puck more and rarely fights, but when he does, it shows that he is not a one trick pony. Rigby is also showing success at the face-off circle.
Rookie Of The Year: Tyson Baillie.
Just 15 when the season started, this rookie forward continues to improve at an impressive rate. With six goals in 35 games, Baillie isn't having the offensive success he had when he led the team in pre-season scoring, but Baillie leads the team in plus-minus with a +9. Baillie's leadership role at the Under 17's will only help his game. Every time I see him play, I think of Tyler Spurgeon.
Runner Up: Cole Martin.