Regina Pats forward Sam Steel named WHL player of the year

Steel named WHL player of the year

CALGARY — Sam Steel didn’t go into the 2016-17 season expecting to win the Western Hockey League scoring title. That’s exactly what happened and the 19-year-old forward was rewarded for his efforts on Monday by winning the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s player of the year.

“I didn’t come in thinking that at all,” said Steel, who beat out Mathew Barzal of the Seattle Thunderbirds to win the award. “I didn’t want to come into the season with lofty goals like that. I was just focusing on helping the team win. When you do that, the other things will fall into place.”

Steel, from Sherwood Park, Alta., registered 50 goals and 131 points in 66 games in the regular season to win the Bob Clarke Trophy as the league’s top scorer.

“When you get to play on a team as good as I did, you get some individual success, so I’m just happy to be a part of it,” said Steel, who was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round, 30th overall, of the 2016 NHL Draft.

Steel and the Pats will take on Barzal and the Thunderbirds in the WHL final, which begins on Friday and Saturday with the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Regina.

“There’s a lot of excitement within the team and I think within the city,” said Steel, who has put up eight goals and 24 points in 17 playoff games with the Pats so far. “We’re all looking forward to getting going and it’s going to be a great series.”

Pats general manager and coach John Paddock was named executive of the year and coach of the year for his part in Regina’s league-leading 112-point season.

“Good players make coaches successful,” Paddock said of Steel. “He’s exactly what people told me when I took the job a couple weeks before I ever saw him. He’s a franchise player. We happen to have at least a couple on our team and they play together to try to win.”

While Barzal finished as runner up to Steel, his Seattle teammate Ethan Bear was selected as the WHL’s top defenceman.

“There’s a lot of great defencemen in this league and to be chosen, it feels really good and to be recognized for my hard work this season, it’s very special to me and my family and I’m very proud of myself,” said Bear, who has been out of the lineup since hurting his hand in Game 3 of Seattle’s third-round win over the Kelowna Rockets in six games.

Bear is hoping to return to play for the Thunderbirds in the league final against the Pats.

“I’m definitely getting very close,” he said. “I think we’ll determine in probably warmup next game. I’ve been able to skate and I’ve been able to shoot and I’ve been able to pass. We’ll go from there.”

A pair of back-to-back winners were honoured as Carter Hart of the Everett Silvertips took home the goaltender of the year award for the second straight season, while Tyler Wong of the Lethbridge Hurricanes was named humanitarian of the year once again.

“It’s a really big honour,” said Wong, who commended the public relations team in Lethbridge for helping him execute his vision. “They spend so many hours at the rink just setting community events up. All the crazy ideas I dreamed up over the five years I’ve been there, they’ve put into work and I just show up and kind of smile and sign autographs.”

Other awards went to Aleksi Heponiemi of the Swift Current Broncos as rookie of the year, Tyler Steenbergen of the Broncos as most sportsmanlike player and Brian King of the Silvertips as scholastic player of the year.

The Victoria Royals were named the scholastic team of the year, the Pats won the WHL business award and Brett Iverson was chosen as top official.

Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

B.C. needs Disability Act: Victoria council

Council motion asks province to make B.C. barrier free

Victoria Police meet Aboriginal activists for afternoon flick

The group gathered as part of ongoing series of events supporting reconciliation efforts

Sooke hires two additional firefighters

Ben Temple and Grayson Kerr began Nov. 6

EMCS Sr. Girls volleyball team making Sooke history

Team headed to compete in Island championships for first time in 15 years this weekend

Dance Victoria Nutcracker contest returns to Oak Bay village

Find Mr. Nutcracker and Tommy Tempo now through Nov. 26 for chacne to win ballet tickets

100,000 bulbs shine bright for Lights of Hope

St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver launched its annual campaign to raise funds for equipment, research

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Weekend hit list: Things to do in Greater Victoria

FRIDAY Find Mr. Nutcracker and his cousin Tommy Tempo as they visit… Continue reading

Uptown’s Christmas Tree Light Up is Saturday night

Uptown assembling 54-foot-tall tree for fifth annual Light Up

Nasty note on B.C. windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Port Alberni resident robbed with weapon, thieves steal thousands

Most of the stolen currency is in Canadian $100 bills. The police investigation is ongoing.

Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

Most Read