The SIJHL announced Friday that Jake Witherspoon of the Fort Frances Lakers has been named the inaugural recipient of its Trainer/Equipment Manager of the Year Award.
This honour is being presented in recognition of an individual on the training and/or equipment staff of one of the SIJHL’s member clubs for their efforts during the season in this capacity.
“The SIJHL would like to congratulate Jake on being selected the inaugural honouree of this award,” SIJHL commissioner Bryan Graham said in a press release.
“No one in hockey works harder than the trainers and equipment managers,” Graham lauded.
“We commend each of the them in the league for their diligent efforts throughout the season.”
Lakers’ head coach/general manager Wayne Strachan also complimented Witherspoon for his contributions with the squad this season.
“We were very pleased Jake stepped up to take on the role on as team trainer this season,” Strachan remarked.
“He made everything flow a lot easier this year. He was in full control of all aspects a trainer has to deal with and their duties,” he lauded.
“The players liked and respected him and he even helped in practice from time-to-time.
“We appreciate Jake’s efforts and we congratulate him on receiving this award,” Strachan added.
Last Wednesday, the SIJHL also announced that Derek Sweet-Coulter of the Red Lake Miners earned the Coach of the Year Award for the 2018-19 regular season.
Sweet-Coulter earned the honour over fellow finalists Wilson Housley (Thief River Falls Norskies) and Rob DeGagne (Thunder Bay North Stars) in voting completed by each of the SIJHL’s six clubs.
As both head coach and general manager, Sweet-Coulter led the Miners to a franchise-record 38 wins during the campaign while finishing with an overall record of 38-15-3-0.
The 79 points Red Lake collected on the season also was a single-season best for the organization.
The day prior, the SIJHL announced Miners’ forward Bryce Young has been named the league’s Mallon’s Corporate Impressions/Play It Again Sports Most Valuable Player for the 2018-19 regular season.
Young, who became the first Miners’ player to garner the accolade, earned the honour over fellow finalists Keighan Gerrie (North Stars) and Eric Stout (Dryden GM Ice Dogs) in voting completed by each of the league’s six clubs.
The 19-year-old The Pas, Man. product had a tremendous campaign in the SIJHL, while also leading his club in offensive production.
His 60 goals during the regular season were the second-most markers in a single campaign by any skater in league history and he also went on to add 41 assists for a total of 101 points.
Young also topped all SIJHL skaters in both power play and short-handed tallies with 15 and seven, respectively, while chipping in with five game-winning markers.
Among his other notable accomplishments in 2018-19 were registering a point on over 36 percent of his team’s tallies during the year, topping the league in short-handed points with nine, along with being named to compete in the SIJHL’s annual All-Star Game–where he dished out a pair of assists.