Oil Kings announce 2022-23 Team Award winners

Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Oil Kings announced their 2022-23 Season Award winners ahead of their game Saturday afternoon against the Calgary Hitmen.

Every season the Oil Kings hand out the following Awards: Most Valuable Player, Kristians Pelss Memorial Award, Humanitarian of the Year, Top Scorer, Top Defenceman, Unsung Hero of the Year, Top Rookie, Most Improved Player and Scholastic Player of the Year.

Below is the complete list of this year’s winners, along with the players who have won the award in the past.

Most Valuable Player

Gavin Hodnett presented Most Valuable Player by Oil Kings General Manager Kirt Hill

Gavin Hodnett (Winnipeg, MB) is the Oil Kings Most Valuable Player for the 2022-23 season.

To date, Hodnett leads the Oil Kings in scoring with 42 points (12G, 30A) in just 59 games played this season.

When it comes to the Oil Kings former first-round pick from the 2021 WHL Prospects Draft, it’s been the consistency in which he has played with this season that has landed him with the Club’s most prestigious award.

As for any 16-year-old player in the WHL, there is an adjustment period and Hodnett was no different.  After recording just four points (0G, 4A) in the first 15 games of his season, he returned from the 2022 IIHF World U-17 Hockey Challenge in mid-November ready to take over offensively and has gone on to put up 38 points (12G, 26A) over his last 43 games — nearly a 60-point pace over the course of a 68-game schedule.

Past Recipients
2021-22: Dylan Guenther
2020-21: Sebastian Cossa
2019-20: Matthew Robertson
2018-19: Trey Fix-Wolansky
2017-18: Trey Fix-Wolansky
2016-17: Davis Koch
2015-16: Dysin Mayo
2014-15: Tristan Jarry
2013-14: Tristan Jarry
2012-13: Keegan Lowe
2011-12: Michael St. Croix
2010-11: Mark Pysyk
2009-10: Mark Pysyk
2008-09: Torrie Jung

Kristians Pelss Memorial Award

Carter Kowlayk presented Kristians Pelss Memorial Award by Oil Kings Head Equipment Manager Rogan Dean

Carter Kowalyk (St. Albert, AB) is the 2022-23 recipient of the Oil Kings Kristians Pelss Memorial Award.

This award is handed out to the player who best exemplifies the traits of late Oil Kings forward Kristians Pelss, a former WHL champion with the Oil Kings and Edmonton Oilers draft pick.  He was known for his commitment to hard work on the ice, as well as his dedication to be a great teammate and member of our community off the ice.

Kowalyk earned this award by being an emotional leader for the team.

Through his tenacious defending, physical play and never shying away from protecting his teammates, he has become the ultimate teammate.

This season, at just 17-years-old, he has proven to be an effective shutdown defenceman in the WHL and has often taken on the toughest matchups with the opposition’s top players while also always being one of the first players over the boards for a penalty kill.

Away from games, he has carried himself at a professional level by the way he prepares, takes care of his body and hones his craft in practices and video sessions with the coaching staff – by doing this, he has helped lead and guide a large contingent of first-year players and shown them what it means to be an Edmonton Oil King.

Past Recipients
2021-22: Carter Souch
2020-21: Jake Neighbours
2019-20: Ethan McIndoe
2018-19: Scott Atkinson
2017-18: Colton Kehler
2016-17: Davis Koch
2015-16: Aaron Irving
2014-15: Ben Carroll
2013-14: Curtis Lazar

Humanitarian of the Year

Rhett Melnyk presented 2022-23 Humanitarian of the Year by Oil Kings Community Relations Coordinator Heather Lefebvre

Rhett Melnyk (Fort Saskatchewan, AB) is the Oil Kings Humanitarian of the Year for the 2022-23 season.

Since being acquired by the Oil Kings this past summer, he has made an instant impact on his hometown and made a commitment to give back to the community that raised him.

From minor hockey practices to school visits, blood drives, replacing local basketball nets, signing countless autographs and supporting dressing room attendant Declan at the 2023 Winter Special Olympics, he has truly done it all.

As captain of the Oil Kings, he leads the team not only on the ice, but off it as well, showing through his actions what the standard is for being a member of this organization.

Past Recipients
2021-22: Luke Prokop & Josh Williams
2020-21: Liam Keeler
2019-20: Ethan Cap
2018-19: Will Warm
2017-18: Conner McDonald
2016-17: Tyler Robertson
2015-16: Patrick Dea
2014-15: Travis Ewanyk
2013-14: Riley Keiser
2012-13: Travis Ewanyk
2011-12: Mark Pysyk
2010-11: Adrian Van de Mosselaer
2009-10: Rhett Rachinski
2008-09: Torrie Jung

Top Scorer 

Gavin Hodnett presented 2022-23 Top Scorer Award by Oil Kings General Manager Kirt Hill

Gavin Hodnett (Winnipeg, MB) is the Oil Kings Top Scorer for the 2022-23 season having registered 42 points (12G, 30A) this season, with two games remaining.

The first-year-forward has had one of the best season’s ever by a 16-year-old in Oil Kings modern franchise history and becomes just the third-ever rookie to lead the Oil Kings in scoring in a season joining Tomas Vincour (2007-08) and Michael St. Croix (2009-10).

Past Recipients
2021-22: Dylan Guenther
2020-21: Jake Neighbours
2019-20: Riley Sawchuk
2018-19: Trey Fix-Wolansky
2017-18: Trey Fix-Wolansky
2016-17: Davis Koch
2015-16: Brett Pollock
2014-15: Brett Pollock
2013-14: Henrik Samuelsson
2012-13: Michael St. Croix
2011-12: Michael St. Croix
2010-11: Dylan Wruck
2009-10: Michael St. Croix
2008-09: Brenden Dowd & Jeff Lee

Top Defenceman 

Vojtech Port presented 2022-23 Top Defenceman Award by Oil Kings Vice Chair, Governor and 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Kevin Lowe

Vojtech Port (Jilhlava, Czechia) is the recipient of the Oil Kings Top Defenceman Award for the 2022-23 season.

After being acquired from the Red Deer Rebels just two games into the season, Port made an instant impact on the Oil Kings blueline.

The smooth skating, puck moving defenceman finished the season as the Oil Kings top point-producing rearguard with 17 points (4G, 13A) in 48 games and is also the fourth highest scoring rookie defenceman in the WHL this year.

Along with his offensive accolades, he was also a calming presence on the Oil Kings back-end through his ability to calmly transport pucks out of the defensive zone.

Since going down with a season-ending injury in February, his impact on the team’s d-core has been greatly missed.

In January, he was ranked 157th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming NHL Draft.

Port becomes the first import player in Oil Kings franchise history to be named the Club’s Top Defenceman.

Past Recipients
2021-22: Logan Dowhaniuk
2020-21: Matthew Robertson
2019-20: Matthew Robertson
2018-19: Conner McDonald
2017-18: Conner McDonald
2016-17: Will Warm
2015-16: Dysin Mayo
2014-15: Dysin Mayo & Ashton Sautner
2013-14: Cody Corbett & Griffin Reinhart
2012-13: Keegan Lowe
2011-12: Mark Pysyk
2010-11: Mark Pysyk
2009-10: Mark Pysyk
2008-09: Mark Pysyk

Unsung Hero of the Year

Marshall Finnie presented 2022-23 Unsung Hero of the Year by Oil Kings Assistant Coach Serge Lajoie

Marshall Finnie (Lethbridge, AB) is the 2022-23 recipient of the Unsung Hero of the Year.

In just his first year in the WHL, Finnie has established himself as a punishing force through his physical style of play, which has also led to him becoming an instant fan favourite here in the Kingdom.

He currently sits sixth on the team in scoring with 21 points (7G, 14A).

In addition to his physicality, he has brought an unmatched compete level all season long and has become the team’s most reliable faceoff man.

Over his last 12 games, he has won 177 of the 281 faceoffs he’s taken (63.0%) and on March 21 in Swift Current, he set a regular-season franchise record for most faceoffs won (23) and taken (35) in a single-game.

Past Recipients
2021-22: Jalen Luypen
2020-21: No recipient
2019-20: Sebastian Cossa
2018-19: Andrew Fyten
2017-18: Tomas Soustal
2016-17: Tyler Robertson
2015-16: Lane Bauer
2014-15: Luke Bertolucci
2013-14: Ashton Sautner
2012-13: Cody Corbett
2011-12: No recipient
2010-11: Travis Ewanyk
2009-10: Braeden Laroque
2008-09: Henrik Tervonen

Top Rookie

Gavin Hodnett presented 2022-23 Top Rookie Award by Oil Kings Head Coach Luke Pierce

Gavin Hodnett (Winnipeg, MB) is the Oil Kings Top Rookie for the 2022-23 season.

Hodnett enters this weekend eighth in the WHL rookie scoring race with 42 points (12G, 30A) and is the league’s fourth highest scoring 16-year-old.

His 42 points is the third most by a 16-year-old in Oil Kings modern franchise history trailing only Michael St. Croix (46 points, 2009-10) and Dylan Guenther (59 points, 2019-20).

Past Recipients
2021-22: Jakub Demek
2020-21: Carson Latimer
2019-20: Dylan Guenther
2018-19: Vladimir Alistrov
2017-18: Matthew Robertson
2016-17: Trey Fix-Wolansky
2015-16: Brayden Gorda
2014-15: Andrew Koep
2013-14: Aaron Irving
2012-13: Edgars Kulda
2011-12: Curtis Lazar & Martin Gernat
2010-11: Griffin Reinhart
2009-10: Michael St. Croix
2008-09: Mark Pysyk

Most Improved Player

Cole Miller presented 2022-23 Most Improved Player Award by Oil Kings Development Coach Ladislav Smid

Cole Miller (Edmonton, AB) is the Oil Kings Most Improved Player for the 2022-23 season.

The second-year Oil Kings forward has made tremendous strides in his overall game throughout this season and is tracking to become a top-line centermen for the Club next season.

Over his past six games, he has been clicking along at a point per-game pace with six points (3G, 3A) in that span.

In January, he was ranked 179th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the upcoming NHL Draft.

Past Recipients
2021-22: Ethan Peters
2020-21: Jalen Luypen
2019-20: Jake Neighbours
2018-19: Carter Souch
2017-18: David Kope

Scholastic Player of the Year 

Ethan MacKenzie presented 2022-23 Scholastic Player of the Year by Oil Kings Education Advisor Sharon Sereda

Ethan MacKenzie (West Kelowna, BC) is the recipient of the Oil Kings Scholastic Player of the Year for the 2022-23 season.

He is currently enrolled in academic classes at Salisbury Composite High School as well as off-campus courses.

“Ethan has been extremely dedicated to his academics, setting high standards for himself,” said Oil Kings Education Advisor Sharon Sereda.  “As a student-athlete, Ethan manages to budget his time well, with the intense WHL schedule and several hockey commitments, Ethan consistently maintains an honor standing.

“Ethan’s teachers and peers have nothing but praise and admiration for Ethan’s commitment to his academics and appreciate his perseverance and positive attitude.”

Past Recipients
2021-22: Braeden Wynne
2020-21: Ethan Peters
2019-20: Jake Neighbours
2018-19: Jake Neighbours
2017-18: Ethan Cap
2016-17: Ethan Cap
2015-16: Kyle Yewchuck
2014-15: Patrick Dea
2013-14: Dysin Mayo
2012-13: Cole Benson
2011-12: Rhett Rachinski
2010-11: Ryan Dech
2009-10: Mark Pysyk
2008-09: Rhett Rachinski

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