Normally just before the playoff start, the Lethbridge Hurricanes take a moment to honor a few players with their year-end awards. With the season cut short during this pandemic, a ceremony was not able to take place. So we are here to hand out our awards for the Hurricanes.
Now just a friendly reminder these are not team picked awards but awards picked by the writer.
We would like to start by honoring and thanking the three overage players who finished their WHL careers with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Brett Davis – The hardworking winger was acquired from the Red Deer Rebels shortly before the trade deadline made an immediate impact both on-and-off the ice for the Hurricanes. He quickly became a fan favorite and provided some much needed secondary scoring. In 20 games with Lethbridge, he scored 16 times and collected 25 points. Those points included five powerplay goals. Davis also jumped in and was among the team leaders in faceoff percentage at 52.9%.
Ty Prefontaine – Named co-captain during the season and it evident why he was chosen. The bruising defencemen could be seen on-and-off the ice helping younger players learn. He appeared to enjoy interactions with the fan and was terrific in the community, which included school visits. Not overly-gifted offensively he amassed 70 points in his 255 games played. He was more well known for his shut down abilities. Prefontaine was counted on to go head-to-head with the opponents’ top line.
Koletrane Wilson – The fourth-year player from Edmonton, AB got better each season. The six-foot-three defencemen was a force in his own end and late in his time with Lethbridge, developed into a more well-rounded defenceman. Wilson was just over a half a point per game player this past season collecting 33 points in 61 games played. He could always be seen with a smile on his face, his presence will be missed around the rink.
Stick taps to all three players on their WHL careers.
Now time to dive into the winner of this year’s awards, Starting with the top forward on the team.
Top Forward: Oliver Okuliar – The import forward may be a surprise pick for this award but it is with good reason. The Slovakian finished second in goals with 33 and fifth in assists with 35. giving him 68 points in just 55 games. Okuliar is only one of two players on the team to finish in the top-5 in goals, assists, points, powerplay points, and game-winning goals. Not bad numbers for the first year WHL player.
Top Defencemen: Alex Cotton – The elevation this season was not hard to find in Cotton’s game, he ran the team’s top powerplay alongside fellow defencemen Calen Addison. The true test for the Langley, BC native was when Addison was away at the World Junior Championships, a test he passed with flying colors. Cotton finished the season as the WHL scoring leader amongst defensemen with 20 goals and 67 points in 63 games played. He finished the season third on the Hurricanes in scoring. A good season for the 2020 NHL draft-eligible rearguard.
Top Goalie: Carl Tetachuk – It was hard to decide between the two goalies on the Hurricanes this season. Tetachuk just edged out Bryan Thomson for the honors this season. Thomson faired well but it was hard to ignore the season Tetachuk put together. At times this season he was amongst the WHL top-ten netminders in both save percentage and goals-against average. Finishing the season with 21 wins including three shutouts, the Lethbridge product was everything the team wanted and needed in the net. Tetachuk was a big reason the Hurricanes sat in a playoff spot for the entire season.
Rookie of the Year: Zack Stringer – Plenty of choices for this award this season. Lethbridge had 12 different rookies suit up, nine of which played more than 22 games. So any number of guys could have taken this award home. Stringer led all rookies in scoring on the team with 34 points in only 48 games as he missed a handful of games with an injury. Those 34 points were still good enough for eighth in overall team scoring. By season’s end, Stringer had found himself on the top line with Dylan Cozens and Oliver Okuliar. The promising forward showed great poise and didn’t shy away when things got tough, there is a bright future ahead for the 2021 draft-eligible winger.
Most Improved: Alex Cotton – Well what more can be said that wasn’t in his defencemen of the year award win. It was quite a jump in production from season-to-season for Cotton. In the 2018-19 season, he had only 11 points in 54 games, just two of which were goals. In 2019-20 he recorded 67 points, which is an increase of 56 points. He greatly improved his points per game as last season he averaged .20 compared to the 1.06 this season. His play away from the puck was much improved as well. Cotton was relied on in all situations as coach Brent Kisio had a lot of confidence in him.
Hidden Gem: Ty Nash – Playing in 59 games this season, the first-year player from Arizona faired well in the role he was given on the team. Nash is a promising player that showed his skills in a variety of situations. His best attribute is his forechecking abilities and a no-quit attitude. The son of former NHLer Tyson Nash you can see where he gets it all from. Scoring 15 points this season there is tons of room to grow and that is the reason he caught our eye. Watch for big things to come for the Scottsdale native.
Team M.V.P.: Dylan Cozens – Absolutely no surprise here. Cozens was named co-captain along with Prefontaine this season and was able to find another level. Coming off being selected seventh overall in the 2019 NHL entry draft by the Buffalo Sabers, he showed why he was worthy of the selection. The Yukon native led the Hurricanes in all offensive stats except powerplay goals, (Okulair took the honor with 11). His 85 points had him finish seventh in WHL scoring in just 51 games. With 38 goals, he tied with two others for fifth in the WHL. Cozens was the heart and soul of this team and it showed both on and off the ice.