Winnipeg Blues’ Dexter Kuczek is one of five players named a finalist for the CJHL Most Valuable Player award.
In his final year of Junior A hockey, Kuczek went out in real style winning the MJHL scoring race by a single point: 37 goals, 92 points in 59 games. The native of Winnipeg was a major force behind the Blues’ offensive attack this season reflected in recording 27 multiple-point games ─ highlighted by 10 powerplay goals.
At the end of the MJHL regular season, the big forward was voted league MVP, winning the Steve “Boomer” Hawrysh Award, in addition to being named the MJHL’s first all-star team. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Kuczek was recently named the RBC Player of the Month for January, in addition to twice winning the Recycle Everywhere MJHL Player of the Week honour.
He started his MJHL career with the Portage Terriers and played there from 2013-15. From there, he joined the Selkirk Steelers for two seasons before being traded to Winnipeg in 2016. Kuczek, who hopes to play U-Sports hockey next fall, said he’s learned a lot from his MJHL experience.
The other nominees are:
Chris Van Os-Shaw, Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
BIO: Van Os-Shaw of the Spruce Grove Saints was the 2017-18 AJHL Scoring Champion and winner of the Ernie Love Trophy. Van Os-Shaw completed the regular season with 51 goals, 46 assists and 97 points. He reached and surpassed the 50-goal mark in his final week of the regular season, a benchmark that was last set by Mark Letestu (Bonnyville Pontiacs / Columbus Blue Jackets) in 2005-2006. He led the league in goals, points, average points per game and with eight game-winning goals. The Regina, Sask., product was also named the 2017-18 AJHL MVP and recipient of the Alberta Old Time Hockey Players Trophy. Chris was recognized as the Viterra AJHL Star of the Game 15 times throughout the regular season, captured the Canalta Hotels AJHL Player of the Week Award twice (January 8-14, 2018 and February 28-March 2, 2018) and won the Alberta Ford Dealers AJHL Player of the Month Award in January 2018. Was acquired from the SJHL in the pre-season. Recorded 100 points in 96 SJHL games. Van Os-Shaw has committed to NCAA D-I Minnesota State in Mankato, Minn., where he will skate for the Mavericks program in the WCHA.
Jasper Weatherby, Wenatchee Wild (BCHL)
BIO: Weatherby drastically improved on his numbers from last year, tripling his goals output and doubling his points total. He finished with a league-best 37 goals and 74 points and was rewarded for his efforts with the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy as the BCHL’s most valuable player, as well as the Brett Hull Trophy for the league’s leading scorer. Weatherby put up a season-high five points on Sept. 29 in an 11-2 Wenatchee win over the Cowichan Valley Capitals, scoring a hat trick and adding two assists. He matched these numbers again on Nov. 10 in a 9-2 win over the West Kelowna Warriors. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound forward from Lummi Island, Wash. was on fire to start the season as he had points in Wenatchee’s first seven games, piling up 12 points over that stretch. He is committed to play for the University of North Dakota for the 2018-19 season.
Andrew Petrucci, Toronto Patriots (OJHL)
BIO: The 20-year-old jumped from 58 points in 2016-17 to a league-best 100 this past regular season. He won the OJHL scoring crown on the final night of the year, scoring twice to edge Aurora Tigers captain Jack Bricknell by one point. Petrucci has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Rochester Institute of Technology next season where he will attend school and play for the Tigers program who compete out of the Atlantic Hockey conference. Petrucci was voted MVP of the OJHL by a panel of general managers and media representatives.
Layne Young, Battlefords North Stars (SJHL)
BIO: 1997 F Young from Frenchman Butte, Sask., had a season that was as prolific as any in recent memory. Young joined a select group of 100-point season players, becoming the first to do it since Travis Eggum and Marc-Andre Carre in 2010-11. By contrast, the leading point getter a season ago had 79. Young’s 100+ points represented a contribution of almost 50% of all North Star offense. He was also a model of consistency, finishing in the top two of league scorers in each month of the season. Teams held Young off the scoresheet only seven times all year (through 56 games), that included a rare three games in a row in mid-November. He had points in 16 straight to end the year. Young was SJHL Rookie of The Year in 2015-16 and ends his career with 253 points in 169 games.
Earning honourable mention for the CJHL MVP Award were: David Jankowski, Hawkesbury Hawks (CCHL); Philippe Pelletier-Leblanc, Flames de Gatineau (LHJAAAQ); T.J. Shea, Summerside Western Capitals (MHL); Connor Lovie, Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL) & Jacen Bracko, Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL).
The CJHL MVP Award recipient will be announced Friday, May 18 at the RBC Awards Banquet in Chilliwack, B.C.