Doug Birks Division Award Winners


Each year, the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League presents seven awards for on-ice excellence: Most Valuable Player, Top Scorer, Top Defenceman, Top Goaltender, Rookie of the Year, Most Sportsmanlike Player and Coach of the Year. Winners are named from the four divisions prior to the start of KIJHL Playoffs, with overall league award winners named the first week of April.

Monday, February 19 – Eddie Mountain Division

Tuesday, February 20 – Bill Ohlhausen Division

Wednesday, February 21 – Neil Murdoch Division

Thursday, February 22 – Doug Birks Division

Today, we recognize the award winners for the Doug Birks Division.

Most Valuable Player
Daniel Kroon
Sicamous Eagles
In his second season with the Eagles, the Calgary product played a big factor in the Eagles being one of the KIJHL’s best teams. Kroon set career high’s in all offensive categories as he collected 24 goals, 21 assists for 45 points in 44 games, while playing an average of 16:27 a game. Those totals ranked Kroon, who had a plus-12 rating,  18th amongst the league’s best and he had two game-winners and 21 power-play points. 

Kroon was important to special teams as he averaged 3:55 of playing time on the power-play and 2:08 short-handed according to Hudl Instat data. He was very strong in the faceoff circle at 59 per cent and averaged 13 puck battles a game, winning 50 per cent. He spent 43 per cent of the time in the offensive zone, while playing 29 per cent in the defensive zone.

Kroon was head coach-GM Nick Deschenes’ mid-season choice for team MVP.

“He plays the game the right way and is being rewarded now on the stats sheet,” said Deschenes. “He has always been a positive factor in our season.”

Top Scorer
Hayden Evans &
Owen Dewitt
Sicamous Eagles
The rookies led the Eagles in points with 50. Evans had 26 goals and 24 assists in 43 games, while Dewitt collected 19 goals and 31 assists in 44 games. Both represented the Eagles and KIJHL in the British Columbia Hockey Conference Prospects Game in Kamloops in November.

Evans (2006-born), a Revelstoke product, had four game-winners and 16 power-play points while playing an average of 17:04 a game and earned a plus-18 rating. He was a key figure on the specialty teams playing 3:25 on the power-play and 1:18 on the penalty kill. He won 47 per cent of faceoffs and spent 35 per cent of the time playing in the offensive and defensive zone. He averaged 12 puck battles a game, winning 52 per cent of them.

Hayden Evans

Rookie of the Year
Owen Dewitt
Sicamous Eagles

Dewitt (2007-born) is a local product, who scored four game-winners and collected 13 power-play points, while playing an average of 18:01 and had a plus-16 rating. He too was key on the special teams with 3:40 of playing time on the power-play and 1:49 on the penalty-kill. He won 55 per cent of faceoffs and averaged 14 puck battles – winning 50 per cent of them.
Most Sportsmanlike Player
Jalen Davidson
Chase Heat
The Calgary product averaged 12 puck battles a game and won 50 per cent and did so while only taking four penalties eight minutes, while averaging 16:48 of playing time. Davidson was also key for the Heat in the dot, winning 58 per cent of faceoffs. He had nine goals and 33 points in 43 games, tying him with teammate Kaleb Preymak for points.

Davidson was also counted on for special teams play as he averaged 4:38 on the power-play and 1:16 short-handed.

Top Defenceman
Mikkel Hrechka
Revelstoke Grizzlies

The Moose Jaw, Sask. product led the Grizzlies with 34 points in 39 games, which was second among KIJHL defencemen, while playing an average of 21:52 a game, including 4:26 on the power-play and 2:57 short-handed. He averaged seven shots a game. Eighteen of his points came on the man-advantage and he finished with a plus-six rating.

Hrechka averaged 15 puck battles a game, winning 50 per cent of them and had 1.67 hits a game.

Top Goaltender
Jozef Kuchaslo
Revelstoke Grizzlies
The KIJHL’s reigning Top Goalie went 19-8-0 in 28 games with his 19 wins being second best in the league. He played 1,681 minutes and had the second best goals against average at 1.96, and the third best SP at .932.

In scoring areas, Kuchaslo has a SP of 87 per cent, 75 on breakaways and he averaged 2.7 brilliant saves per game.

Coach of the Year 
Jiri Novak
Revelstoke Grizzlies

The Czechia native led the Grizzlies to the second best record in the league at 34-8-1-1 in 44 games in his first season as Head Coach. Under Novak, the Grizzlies were the third highest scoring team with 193 goals and allowed the fewest – 83. The tandem of Jozef Kuchaslo and Louis Adler combined for a 1.85 goals against average, falling just shy of the record set by the Osoyoos Coyotes in 2015/16 when they had a 1.79 GAA in 52 games after allowing 93 goals. 

The Grizzlies were also excellent on specialty teams finishing with the No. 1 penalty-kill at 90.1 per cent – 21-for-225 and their power-play was fifth best at 22.6 per cent – 53-for-234.

Novak was part of the KIJHL Prospects team coaching staff for the BCHC Prospects Game.

Matt Timmins photo/Grizzlies Facebook page