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OCN’s Keeper nominated for CJHL Top Defenceman award

The accolades continue for OCN Blizzard’s standout defenceman Brady Keeper, who is one of five players nominated for the CJHL Top Defenceman Award. A candidate from each of the 10 leagues that comprise the CJHL was nominated by their respective leagues for six national awards. The winner of each respective category will be announced during the week of May 8-12, heading into the RBC Cup.

Keeper, who turns 21 next month, was recently awarded the MJHL MVP and Top Defenceman honours, in addition to being named a first-team all-star defenceman. He was also selected the MJHL Defenceman of the Month on three occasions.Keeper led all MJHL defenceman in goals with a total of 23 and finished with 48 points in as many games. He had an outstanding playoff run, finishing third in playoff scoring with 16 points (4-12) in 15 games.

Keeper, who hails from Cross Lake, is also a positive role model for other Indigenous youth. His play has earned him a NCAA scholarship to the University of Maine next season.

The other Top Defenceman nominees are:

AJHL: Cale Makar, Brooks Bandits: The Brooks’ blueliner was named AJHL MVP and the league’s top defenceman. The 18-year-old from Calgary, Alta., is projected by NHL Central Scouting as a potential first round draft pick in the upcoming 2017 NHL Entry Draft as he was slotted ninth overall among North American skaters. Had a 75-point season on the blueline for the AJHL champion Bandits. Led all league D-men in scoring and was sixth in sixth overall among all skaters. Also served as captain of Canada West at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge and was selected to Team West for the 2017 CJHL Prospects Game. Makar is currently committed to the NCAA Division I University of Massachusetts on scholarship to begin his NCAA hockey career.

BCHL: Jake Stevens, Victoria Grizzlies: Stevens elevated his game in his second BCHL season, amassing eight goals and 45 assists for 53 points while playing all 58 regular-season games. He saw significant ice time for Victoria in all situations, yet spent a mere 14 minutes in the penalty box. The 20-year-old D-man hails from Naperville, Ill. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound blueliner’s play helped the Grizzlies to the Island Division title in the BCHL. Stevens has received a scholarship to St. Lawrence University for 2017-18 where he will attend school and skate for the Saints’ men’s hockey program.

LHJAAAQ: Jonathan Fillion, Collège Français de Longueuil:  The veteran defenceman was an offensive force for his squad in 2016-17 while still providing top-end play in his own zone. Eyed as a robust and intelligent player with an exceptional vision of the game, Fillion was selected as the most valuable player in the LHJAAAQ and also earned a place on the league all-star team. Was also named defenceman of the year in the LHJAAAQ where he led all rearguards in not only his league but across the entire CJHL with an impressive 103 points in just 49 games on 30 goals and 73 assists. 20-year-old hails from Ste-Catherine, Que.

OJHL: Brennan Roy, Cobourg Cougars: Skating for the RBC Cup-host Cobourg Cougars, Roy tied for the league scoring lead among blueliners with 57 points. Picked up OJHL 1st Team All-Star honours. The 20-year-old from Iroquois Falls, Ont., led all OJHL defencemen with 43 assists this season while also providing a stabilizing force in the defensive zone and logging heavy minutes on the blueline. League North-East Conference Player-of-the-Month for October was a member of Team OJHL Oates at the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge and also suited up for the OJHL all-stars that played Canada East in a WJAC tune-up.

SJHL: Eric Sinclair – Flin Flon Bombers: Captured SJHL top defenceman honours for a second straight year. Sinclair was a point-per-game performer in the league after starting the 2016-17 season with the Melfort Mustangs, who he helped lead to a Canalta Cup championship the year before. Suiting up in a combined 46 contests with both Melfort and Flin Flon, the now 21-year-old from Kenora, Ont., registered 51 points, including 17 goals. He led all SJHL D-men in tallies, assists and points. Sinclair will continue his hockey career in the NCAA this fall as he attends the University of Alaska-Anchorage in the fall on scholarship and play for the Seawolves.