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The 2023/24 Kimberley Dynamiters Awards ceremony

Another regular season has come and gone, and as the Kimberley Dynamiters gear up for the playoffs and another run at the championship, the organization took time on Sunday, Feb. 18 to honour the many accomplishments of the players on this season’s roster.

It takes a tremendous host of dedicated individuals to support a hockey team, including sponsors, the board of directors, the billet organizers and billet families, the coaching and training staff, the volunteers, fans and many more. This group was honoured in the speeches of Dynamiters president James Leroux, head coach and general manager Derek Stuart and team captain Carson Cleland.

Cleland also recognized the dedication of Neil Rye, who has been with the team for over 30 years, saying that when he was befallen with illness for part of the season, the team really realized just how much he does for them. He also thanked Scotty McLellan, the team’s motivational speaker.

READ MORE: Neil Rye named KIJHL Volunteer of the Year

“Thank you to my parents and family for supporting me through my wishes to play junior hockey for the past three years,” Cleland said. “Without their support I probably wouldn’t have come here and I would never have been able to call myself a Kimberley Dynamiter, which is something I will hold a lot of meaning and pride to with me over the rest of my life.

“To the rest of the parents on the team, you have all raised stand-up kids with unreal characters, because of your efforts I am able to leave this town with more than a handful of people I’m proud to call my brothers.

“All of the people I mentioned have made my experience and my teammate’s experience filled with long-lasting memories all of which we will not forget any time soon, because of guys, myself and my team have been able to call Kimberley a home away from home and a place that will always be a part of our lives. So thank you all once again for your dedication to the players and the organization.”

The first award of the night, Most Popular Player as voted by the fans, went to Tristan Weill and it would not be his only time up to the stage that night. Weill was also presented with the awards for Best Forward, Leading Scorer, Most Valuable Player for the team, as well as MVP for the entire Eddie Mountain Division.

“Our MVP had a season to remember,” Stuart said, and indeed he did. Weill finished the regular season with 38 goals and 33 assists for 71 points in 36 games played. He averaged 1.97 goals per game, which had he played as many games as the player who did win the overall points award, would have put him at 87 for the season, 12 points in the lead. Unfortunately he missed some games due to illness and injury and Stuart said the team did “a great job of learning to win without him,” but added that he is a game changer and key part of their success.

Weill also had 12 power-play goals, 10 game winners and scored three points or more in a game 16 times, including a five-point game against Princeton on Dec. 3.

The Most Scholastic Player went to Conner Grainger, who managed a 3.4 GPA through a full slate of classes.

Tyler Lindal was named Most Improved Player. Assistant Coach Carson Loftsgard presented the award, highlighting Lindal’s self awareness and ability to take feedback from coaches or teammates, and said that although sometimes in Junior Hockey, players can “get tricked into thinking they’re done and they can’t get any better,” there is a ton of space for them to continually improve.

Assistant Coach Byron Garrels presented the award for the Most Sportsmanlike Player to Carter Hensch, joking that the staff just “picked a guy they only had to scream at … one or two times this year,” which he said is “really good for this group of hyenas.” He highlighted Hensch’s competitive attitude, discipline and how he manages to rarely put himself out of position.

READ MORE: The 2022/23 Kimberley Dynamiters Awards Ceremony

Jackson Murphy was the recipient of the Community Service Award and was recognized by Stuart for how he helped out at Save-On-Foods on the first Tuesday of every month, attended elementary schools to interact with the students, took part in multiple Terry Fox Runs and, most impressively, spent countless time helping out the U9 Minor Hockey team on ice during practices all season.

Nate Murdoch was this year’s Unsung Hero, with Stuart saying he embodied the definition of “someone who sacrifices themselves for the good of the group without getting recognition.”

Matt Fleet was named Most Inspirational, with Stuart commenting that he “has a very positive attitude, is a great guy and an unbelievable teammate,” adding he won by quite a few votes.

This season’s Rookie of the Year award went to Callan Valstar.

“Being a rookie on a team with 16 vets is probably not an easy task,” Stuart said. “This was the hardest award to choose because there are more than a few that could have won it. Our decision basically came down to a player who has contributed consistently since he got here and has done so throughout the season.”

Trey Stephenson won the award for Best Defenceman, as he led the defensive core in goals scored, penalty minutes and total time on the ice.

The coaches had such a tough time choosing this season’s Coaches Awards they decided to give it to two players: Kade Leskosky and Carson Cleland. Stuart said Lesksoky got the award for “how much he’s matured and learned to put the team first, aside from being one of our best and most consistent players.”

He highlighted the fact that Cleland was unanimously chosen as team captain back in September, and since his arrival in Kimberley three years ago, “entails everything a Dynamiter should be,” sacrificing his body, playing through injuries others would not and averaging close to 20 minutes per game.

Leskosky was also honoured with his entry into the Century Club, presented to players who have reached 100 or more points in their regular seasons with the Dynamiters. Leskosky is one of 17 players in the history of the Dynamiters to join the Century Club.

Finally the 20-year-old players were honoured with Dynamiters jerseys: Carson Cleland, Matt Fleet, Conner Furukawa, Liam Furlong, Kade Leskosky and Jake Watson.

Now the focus is round one of the playoffs, which begins Friday, Feb. 23 against Columbia Valley.

About the Author: Paul Rodgers

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