WESTLOCK – The success of a hockey team is often rooted in the time and commitment spent by players, coaching staff and volunteers on and off the ice.
The Westlock Warriors Senior ‘AA’ hockey team recognized its players and the community for their contributions to a successful 2021-2022 regular and post-season, at the club’s first awards banquet at the Memorial Hall April 30.
The Warriors handed out hardware in several categories including volunteer of the year, No. 1 Warrior fan, top scorer, top defenseman, hardest working Warrior, rookie of the year, community involvement and most valuable player, among other categories.
Team president and captain Mike Ivey opened the awards portion by thanking the many volunteers, coaching staff and fans who helped make it a great season.
“It takes quite a few people to run a hockey team and do game day events … we couldn’t have done it without our volunteers,” said Ivey. “A big thanks to our fans for sticking with us and cheering us on all the way this year.”
The Warriors also acknowledged the dedication and hard work of those behind the scenes and the support from fans, in addition to the commitment of the players themselves.
“Over the years we’ve had a fantastic group and it keeps growing, keeps getting better,” said Ivey. “We had a very successful season compared to most — we’re usually done in January … but we made it all the way to the semifinals. We’re very proud of our group.”
It was the first time the eight-year history of the senior men’s hockey club that they’ve held an awards ceremony and banquet.
Kyle Dronyk won the top scorer award and was the team’s MVP this season.
“I was just happy to be playing hockey again. Coming in I didn’t know what to expect,” said Dronyk. “It was a pretty good year.”
The 22-year-old former Lloydminster Bobcats defenseman (AJHL) played as a forward for the Warriors this year. And credited his teammates with his success.
“I’m the one that won the award, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, my linemates. They’re really the ones that contributed to the award,” he said.
Rookie of the year and top defenseman Clayton Eisler was a difference maker on the blueline this season and noted his two-way playing ability, calmness and patience with the puck on the back end.
“I try to be as good of an overall player as I possibly can be,” said Eisler.
The 25-year-old former Saskatchewan junior hockey player (SJHL) also credited his teammates and the chemistry between them for the awards and recognition.
“Winning the awards is very cool and I feel very honoured to be recognized but hockey is a team sport and without your teammates you can’t really do a whole lot out there,” said Eisler. “We have a lot of very good guys in the dressing room. It’s very easy to make the drive out from Edmonton and do a 9:30 p.m. practice or show up to 8:30 p.m. games.”
Ivey said the night was a great way to thank players, volunteers, coaching staff and fans for their support and hard work throughout the regular season and post-season.
“We got a lot of guys that deserve these awards,” said Ivey, noting the 28-man roster this season. “Halfway through the year we really found our groove — we had a great group, we worked hard. We started winning quite a few games near the end of the season and we went into the playoffs feeling really good about it,” he added, noting a sweep of Morinville in the first round followed by a close battle against the Lacombe Generals in the semifinals.
“We gave Lacombe a heck of a series. To be in the semis was a big change for us because in past years we have missed the playoffs, or we have lost in the first round so we’re on the up.”
Volunteer of Year: Denise Boulerice
No. 1 Warrior Fan: Matt Steinbring
Junior Warrior Award: Linden Provencal
Warriors Scholarship: Kasyn Pipke and Zachery Cartier
Community Involvement: Nathan Brown
Top Scorer: Kyle Dronyk
Hardest Working Warrior: Scott Ivey
Unsung Hero: Josh Kaliel
Top Defenseman: Clayton Eisler
Defensive Player of Year: Kellan Cornelis
Rookie of the Year: Clayton Eisler
Most Valuable Player (MVP): Kyle Dronyk