MEDICINE HAT, AB — It came earlier than the Tigers would have liked but on Thursday night the team wrapped up their 2016-17 campaign with their annual Year End Reception and Awards Banquet.
Taking home MVP honours was graduating Kamloops, BC native Chad Butcher who amassed 103 points during the regular season.
“There’s some pretty cool names on the trophy, some guys I looked up to a little bit so it’s definitely cool and rewarding,” said the 21-year-old who spent his entire WHL career with the Tigers following the ceremony.
“To be able to reach the 100 point milestone was an important goal for me this year and I’m pretty happy that I was able to do that, a lot of thanks goes to my teammates and linemates, couldn’t have reached it without them.”
Fellow graduating player and Tigers captain Clayton Kirichenko was fittingly awarded the Gerard Moyer Leadership Award as well as the Cliff Bast Memorial Best Defenceman Award.
“It’s obviously an honour,” said the Sherwood Park, AB product. “Especially looking back and seeing all the greats that have wore the ‘C’ for such a historic organization.”
Left winger Mark Rassell won the most hardware during the banquet by having his name etched onto four trophies.
The 36 goal scorer came away with the Trophy World Most Goals award, Aldo’s Shoe Repair 3 Star recognition, MacLean Wiedemann Lawyers LLP Most Improved Player honour, and the 20/20 Vision Care Community Service award which he shared with goalie Nick Schneider, marking the third straight year he’s been recognized for his community involvement.
“It’s something that I love to do,” said Rassell. “It’s an honour to receive that award.”
Rassell finished the regular season with 36 markers, 23 more than his campaign the year before.
“My mother, my older brother Zach were texting me at the start of year when I had a hot start and they said ‘I think you can lead the team in goals’ and I didn’t believe them,” said Rassell. “The Tigers have such a rich history in this franchise and there are so many great players that have come and gone and to be a part of that, it’s an honour.”
Another multi-award winner Thursday evening was import player John Dahlstrom who won the Guttormson & Co. Playoff MVP award and MY96 Rookie of the Year with fellow European Kristians Rubins.
“Since (the) first day we’ve been drafted here we’ve been talking to each other, we’ve built up a good friendship with each other so it’s good to finish it like this.”
With the award banquet signifying the finish of the year for the squad, Kirichenko says it’s the little things he’ll remember the most as his time as a Tiger comes to a close.
“Just everyday coming to the rink; the jokes, the laughter, all the pranks, the banter. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling of coming to the rink every day and seeing the boys.”