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Canadians hand out hardware as season comes screeching to a halt

Team awards handed out at impromptu final team gathering

The West Division Regular Season Champion Rayside Balfour Jr. A Canadians' season ended on Thursday, March 12, less than one hour prior to the start of their West Division semi-final play-off series with the Soo Eagles. 

As disappointing as the decision was to end the season, the Canadians organization is fully dedicated to the health and safety of players, fans and the wider community.

“With the onset of the COVID-19 virus that ended our season, I would like to reach-out and sincerely thank our fans that supported the Canadians this season” said team director Blaine Smith. “Our crowds increased by 33 per cent from the start of the season thanks to the hockey fans of Rayside Balfour and some very supportive businesses. We welcomed over 500 fans to two of our home games this season and the team enjoyed providing some significant financial support to the Chelmsford Food Bank in December as well as the NOFCC with a highly successful Super Mario Jersey promotion in February.”

“Most importantly, the development of our players was outstanding thanks to an amazing group of young players and returning veteran players that came together and finished the second-half of the season as the winningest team in the NOJHL,” Smith said. “I would like to extend a sincere congratulations to our players, our coaching staff and all of our team personnel including General Manager Jeff Forsyth for recruiting a terrific young Jr. A team for the hockey fans of Greater Sudbury to enjoy.”

At an impromptu final team gathering at the Chelmsford Arena on March 13, Canadians’ GM Jeff Forsyth and the Canadians coaching staff announced this year’s Player Award recipients:

Most Valuable Player: David Bowen
The 19 year-old veteran goaltender had an outstanding season including a shut-out win over the CHL’s top-ranked Ottawa 67s team as a call-up with the OHL Sudbury Wolves in February. Bowen finished the regular season with a 18-5 win-loss record, a 2.65 goals against average and a .924 save percentage to finish fifth overall in the NOJHL Top Goaltending category.

Top Scorers: Nicholas Degrazia and Mitchell Martin
The young first-year players enjoyed amazing success this season and led the team with 61 points to finish tied for sixth-place in NOJHL scoring. Both players were honoured with NOJHL Monthly Recognition awards. DeGrazia was also named to Team Canada East in the World Jr. Challenge Cup tournament.

Top Rookies: Nicholas Degrazia and Mitchell Martin
The young first-year players led all NOJHL rookies in scoring with 61 points. DeGrazia is a draft selection of the Sudbury Wolves from the Thunder Bay Kings program, while Sudbury-born Mitchell Martin recently signed a Standard Player Agreement with the OHL Kitchener Rangers.

Top Defenceman: Zachary Snow
The 20-year-old veteran defenceman was the Canadians’ team Captain and led the Canadians in scoring from the defensive position with 37 points in 50 games. Snow concluded a 3-year Jr. A career with the Canadians and was named as a NOJHL Top Performer of the Month this season.

Scholastic Award: Joel Mongeon
The 19-year-old veteran defenceman was a stalwart on the blueline for the Canadians and could be depended upon in all situations. The local graduate from the Sudbury Nickel Capitals program attends Laurentian University full-time and has achieved outstanding grades in the Science program at LU.

Most Sportsmanlike: Dylan Bertrand
The first-year 17-year-old player from Thunder Bay made a solid impact on the Canadians blueline this season. Bertrand finished the regular season with 5 goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 48 games. Self-discipline was a big part of Dylan’s game with only 10 minutes in penalties.

Community Service: Samuel Vachon
The 17-year-old first-year forward from Cochrane, Ontario enjoyed a solid season with the Canadians with eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 45 games. Vachon is a draft selection of the OHL Sudbury Wolves. Vachon donated much of his free time to the youth of our community including: attending practices with teams from Rayside Minor Hockey as well as supporting other community functions on behalf of the Canadians.

Most Improved Player: Matthew Belanger
The 18-year-old first-year forward made the jump from the Sudbury High School league last season and became one of the Canadians’ most prolific goal scorers. The Sudbury native finished the season with 49 points in 54 games including a staggering 28 goals. Belanger finished 5th overall in team scoring.

Best Overall Forward: Ben Hatanaka
The 20-year-old forward from Burlington enjoyed another outstanding season as he wrapped-up his two year Jr. A career with the Canadians. Hatanaka finished the season with 52 points in 55 games including a team-leading 45 assists. The consummate leader also played defence when called-upon by the coaching staff and quarter-backed the Canadians power play.

Hardest Working Players: Mathieu Dokis-Dupuis and Brady Maltais
The 19-year-old veteran forwards led the Canadians and their young players on-and-off the ice this season with their outstanding work ethic and dedication to the team. Dokis-Dupuis finished the season with 52 points in 50 games while Maltais finished the year with 46 points in 45 games.

Team Leadership Award: Greg Arnburg
The 20-year-old veteran defenceman from Oshawa, Ontario arrived in Rayside in January and in two short months made an incredible impact on the organization. The rugged rearguard recorded 10 points in just 18 games and battled for his team and teammates at every opportunity. Arnburg’s outstanding leadership, communication skills and his commitment to his new team and community were exemplary.