The Western Hockey League handed out its conference awards this past week and one of them was a member of the Portland Winterhawks.
After arriving as a list play in 2016, Jake Gricius was given an Alternate captain status as seems to be with the overage players. Gricius took it one step further this past season though as he worked with athletes in the Specialty Athletic Training. This organization works with those who may be disabled from ADHA, Alzheimer’s Disease, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome, Parkinson’s Disease, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Williams Syndrome and Diabetes to name a few. The one-to-one training and group training they provide allow the participants physical fitness and self-esteem building. Gricius got involved this past summer coordinating efforts with owner Ryan Lockard and the two were able to combine their efforts. Jake toured one housing unit with the team offering autographs, photo ops and then helped lead the class during planned workout sessions.
Jake has been a part of several Winterhawks events and was part of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club event “Shop With A Hawk” over the past four seasons. The Western Hockey League bestowed upon him the WHL Western Conference Humanitarian Award.
In the Eastern Conference, 17-year-old Riley Fiddler-Schultz from the Calgary Hitmen took home Humanitarian of the Year for his work with Fidds Friends, which worked with the Boys and Girls Club to see games. He used his father’s pickup truck for the Veterans Food Bank to fill it and then distribute the product. He took the lead in the involvement with the Hitmen and Mental Health Awareness.
Both Gricius and Fiddler-Schultz are in the running for the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Award to be presented on May 12. The last Winterhawks player to win this award was Braydon Coburn in 2004.
The WHL also awarded Dennis Williams of the Everett Silvertips the Western Conference Coach of the Year Award and Brad Lauer of the Edmonton Oil Kings the Eastern Conference Coach of the Year. Seattle Thunderbirds were awarded the Business of the Year for the Western Conference while Lethbridge Hurricanes took home the honors for the Eastern Conference. Scholastic Player of the Year honors went to Kamloops Blazers Goaltender Dylan Garand for the Western Conference, and the Regina Pats’ Jakob Brook was bestowed the honor for the Eastern Conference.
With the NHL Draft sent for late May during what would have been the now cancelled Memorial Cup, the final North American scouting rankings were announced.
Seth Jarvis remains the top Winterhawks player at #11. Other Winterhawks eligible to be drafted are: Cross Hanas #58, Simon Knak #81, Jonas Brondberg #115 and Robbie Fromm-Delorme #196. Even though these are the scouting rankings, players have moved considerably when it comes to the draft as teams look to something they need when their turn comes around or through a trade of picks which has happened many times before.
The WHL also announced its first- and second-team All-Stars. The teams were listed to show what fantasy teams would have played.
For the Western Conference, John Ludvig on defence and Seth Jarvis as a forward were named. Others include Goaltender Dustin Wolfe of the Everett Silvertips along with forwards Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers and Adam Beckman of the Spokane Chiefs. Ty Smith, defenceman of the Chiefs, was also nominated.
In the East, Goaltender Jiri Patera and defenceman Braden Schneider of the Brandon Wheat Kings, defenceman Calen Addison and forward Dylan Cozens represented the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Forwards James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Aliaksei Protus of the Prince Albert Raiders were named as well.
The Second Team Western Conference saw Joel Hofer of the Portland Winterhawks listed, with Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants and Jake Christiansen of the Everett Silvertips on defence. Forwards Zane Franklin of Kamloops Blazers, Bryce Kindopp of the Everett Silvertips and Eli Zummack of the Spokane Chiefs were listed as well.
The Eastern Conference second team saw Max Paddock of the Prince Albert Raiders along with Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Matthew Robertson and Alex Cotton of the Lethbridge Hurricanes being named. Forwards Mark Kastelic of the Calgary Hitmen, Peyton Krebs of the Winnipeg Ice and Riley Sawchuk also from the Edmonton Oil Kings got the nod.