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BCHL announces year-end individual award winners for 2023-24

The BCHL has announced the winners of its year-end awards for the 2023-24 season.

Award winners were determined after a vote was conducted between the 17 B.C. head coaches and general managers.

Vern Dye Memorial Trophy (Most Valuable Player)

Caden Cranston (F) โ€“ Surrey Eagles

Cranston finished as the BCHL’s leading scorer in 2023-24, leading the pack with 86 points in 51 regular-season games for the Eagles who ended the campaign sitting first overall in the standings. His 56 assists were the most in the BCHL, while his 30 goals were fourth.

The Merrimack College commit was deadly on the power play this season, leading all players with 31 points and 24 assists with the man advantage and helping the Eagles achieve the best power-play conversion rate in the league at 30.6 per cent.

Cranston also scored clutch goals all year long, leading the BCHL with eight game-winners on the year.

The Rochester, N.Y. product went on multiple long point streaks this year, the lengthiest being 12 and 11 game streaks. On Feb. 25 and March 1, Cranston put up 11 points in two games, notching a season-best six-point effort in a win over the Victoria Grizzlies, followed by a five-point performance against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Cranston is the second Eagles player to take home the trophy, joining John McNabb who won in 1999.

Runners up: Felix Caron (West Kelowna), Aaron Schwartz (Surrey)

Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy (Rookie of the Year)

Chase Pirtle (F) – Victoria Grizzlies

Pirtle led all rookies in scoring in 2023-24, finishing his inaugural BCHL campaign with 52 points in 54 games. His 25 goals were also the most among first-year players, while his 27 assists were third. Pirtle’s point total was tops on the Grizzlies and tied him for 12th overall in the league.

The 2005-born forward was held off the score sheet in his first two games in the league, then went on a tear that lasted the entire season. Pirtle scored his first two goals in the league in a Sep. 29 win over the Powell River Kings, then followed that with a three-point outing against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Oct. 1.

The Cornell University commit finished the year with points in 12 of his final 15 regular-season games, piling up 17 points over that stretch.

Pirtle is the sixth Grizzlies player to win the award and the third in a row, after Oliver Auyeung-Ashton won in 2023 and Matthew Wood took it home in 2022. A Victoria player has won the award five of the past six times it was handed out.

Runners up: Will Ingemann (Penticton), Jack Pridham (West Kelowna)

Michael Garteig Trophy (Top Goaltender)

Ajeet Gundarah – Surrey Eagles

In 33 regular-season appearances, Gundarah led the BCHL with a .931 save percentage and 25 wins. He also finished with a 2.14 goals-against average, which was second best in the league.

Gundarah won his first nine starts of the season, helping the Eagles win 12 straight as a team to start the campaign. During that stretch, the Richmond, B.C. native let in more than two goals on only one occasion.

He registered two shutouts during the year, one coming in a 6-0 win over the Langley Rivermen on Dec. 30 where he made 25 saves and the other in a 1-0 victory over the Nanaimo Clippers where he stopped all 34 shots he faced.

Gundarah is the second Eagles goaltender to take home the trophy, joining Michael Santaguida who won in 2013.

Runners up: Will Ingemann (Penticton), Eli Pulver (Salmon Arm)

Campbell Blair Trophy (Top Defenceman)

Isaiah Norlin – West Kelowna Warriors

Norlin led all BCHL defencemen with 48 points in 51 games in the regular season. His 12 goals on the year were tied for the third most among blueliners, while his 36 assists were also third best.

The Clarkson University commit started the season on a four-game point streak and never slowed down after that. His best stretch came from Dec. 16 to Jan. 26 where he had points in seven of nine contests, totaling 16 points over those games. Part of that streak included back-to-back games where he contributed three assists in wins over the Penticton Vees and Prince George Spruce Kings.

A big part of Norlin’s production came on the power play where he piled up 21 of his 48 points, scoring four times and adding 17 assists with the man advantage.

This is the fifth time a Warriors defenceman has won this award and the first since 2021 when Tyson Jugnauth took home the honour.

Runners up: Tristan Allen (Salmon Arm), Brett Merner (Nanaimo)

Bob Fenton Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike Player)

Ryden Evers (F) – Surrey Eagles

Awarded to the player who exhibits the fundamental aspects of sportsmanship, while excelling at the game, Evers wins the trophy after scoring 53 points in 53 contests and taking zero penalties during the season.

His point total was the third highest on the Eagles and tied him for 10th overall in league scoring.

Evers had a signature performance on Feb. 10 in a 6-5 overtime win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs where he had three points, a goal and an assist in regulation and another helper on the winner in extra time. The 18-year-old also scored two goals in a game on four different occasions, all of which resulted in Surrey wins.

Evers is the fifth Eagles player to win this award and the first since current NHLer Danton Heinen won it in 2014.

Runners up: Callum Arnott (Penticton), Aaron Schwartz (Surrey)

Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy (Coach of the Year)

Cam Keith – Surrey Eagles

Keith led the Eagles to the best record in the BCHL (44-8-2-0) and the Ron Boileau Memorial Trophy as the top regular-season team. Surrey won 12 straight games to start the year and never relinquished their number-one position after that.

The Eagles had the most goals for in the league, averaging 4.17 per game, while also holding teams to the second-fewest goals against, averaging 2.37 during the season, giving them a league-best plus-97 goal differential.

They were also one of the most disciplined teams in 2023-24 as well, taking 475 minutes in penalties, which was the second fewest.

Surrey was a force on special teams in 2023-24, leading the BCHL in both power-play conversation rate (30.6 per cent) and penalty kill percentage (83.2 per cent).

Keith is the fifth Eagles head coach to win the award and the first since Matt Erhart won in 2012.

Runners up: Simon Ferguson (West Kelowna), Fred Harbinson (Penticton)

Non-Voting Awards

Brett Hull Trophy (Top Scorer)

Caden Cranston (F) – Surrey Eagles

51GP – 30G – 56A – 86PTS

Wally Forslund Trophy (Best Goaltending Duo)

Awarded to the goaltending duo from the team with the lowest goals-against average.

Will Ingemann & Andrew Ness – Penticton Vees

116 team goals against (2.15 average)