He’s looking forward to the future after having his season end so abruptly, but Noah Loveday still is thankful for everything he has experienced.
Despite the SIJHL season being cancelled early due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, Loveday was able to reap one final reward for his solid junior ‘A’ career as the Fort Frances Lakers’ captain was honoured as the league’s Most Improved Player for the 2019-20 season back on March 16.
The 20-year-old Fort Frances native earned the award over fellow nominees Xavier Halterman of the Dryden GM Ice Dogs and Nick Harder of the Thief River Falls Norskies, in voting completed by each of the SIJHL’s member clubs.
“It’s a huge honour,” Loveday said of being honoured as the SIJHL’s MIP.
“You know, I’ve spent the last three years in this league and to get recognized for the progress I’ve made was really nice. I looked back [at the list] of former winners and there was some pretty good past Lakers on there, so I’m honoured to be mentioned in the same air.”
Seeing action in 48 games during the year, Loveday produced 17 goals and 21 assists for the Lakers, which marked a 17-point improvement for himself as compared to the 2018-19 season.
His contributions also saw him set personal single-season bests in tallies, helpers and points.
Loveday led Fort Frances in game-winning markers with five and that total had him finishing tied for fourth-best among all SIJHL skaters in that department.
This marks the fourth time in league history a Lakers’ player has garnered these laurels as Loveday joins former Lakers Miles Nolan (2014-15); Mason Meyer (2013-14) and Colton Spicer (2012-13) on that list.
“It’s well deserved. Noah had a great year for the team and it’s good to see him get recognized by the league for his hard work,” said Lakers’ head coach and general manager Wayne Strachan.
“Over his three seasons with our program, you always knew what you were getting every time he stepped on the ice.
“His work ethic, his attention to detail and his willingness to do anything to improve or help his team win, were easy to see,” he lauded.
“Whether it was taking or making a hit to make a play, throwing his body at a puck to block a shot, or scoring a big goal, he was in the game and making an impact.”
In three years with the Lakers, Loveday registered 37 goals and 50 assists across 145 games.
He also added two markers in 11 career playoff games.
“I think the sense of pride and my work ethic, I tried to do things the right way,” Loveday said about what stood out to him most about his time in the SIJHL as he reflected back on his junior ‘A’ career.
“I really thought we had a shot to make a run in the playoffs, so it’s unfortunate that we never got to see how we could do.
“Personally, I know I gave my best every single night and that’s all you can really ask for.”
Strachan also felt sorry that Loveday’s season and junior ‘A’ career got cut short.
“I feel for him with the season coming to an end the way it did. Hosting [the Dudley-Hewitt Cup] this year should have been his reward for working so hard for the Lakers the last three years,” said the Lakers’ bench boss.
“He will be hard to replace,” he admitted. “You don’t often find players that understand the game and use their ability and leadership to get the most out of their teammates.”
Moving forward, Loveday said that he plans on attending university somewhere in Canada and trying to get on with a collegiate hockey team.
“I’ll have to talk to some teams or some schools and then I’d have an idea,” he noted.
“I’ll work with Wayne and we’ll see what happens.”