When contacting the players who win the HockeyNow Minor Hockey Player of the Year awards, one fact clearly stands out.
The players, and their families, all understand the significance of the honour.
"All you have to do is take a look at the people who have won the award in the past and it's obvious that it means a lot to the boys to be part of the fraternity," said Jim Hughes, the father of this year's Ontario Player of the Year, 16-year-old Jack Hughes.
Jack joins a pair of 15-year-olds on this year's HockeyNow honour list, as Kaiden Guhle (Alberta) and Justin Sourdif (B.C.) complete our annual trifecta.
And that famous fraternity?
Just take a look at the list.
Karl Alzner, Mathew Barzal, Curtis Lazar, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Morgan Rielly, Griffin Reinhart – all previous and proud winners of the HockeyNow Player of the Year award. All of the above are either established NHLers, or young players just beginning to carve out their careers in the best league in the world. This past June, in fact, two more HockeyNow Player of the Year alumnus were front and centre at the NHL Draft in Chicago. Gabe Vilardi (Ontario, 2015) was selected 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings, while Jaret Anderson-Dolan (Alberta, 2014) was also picked by the Kings, getting snapped up with the 41st choice.
Now, this year's winners get a chance to tell their stories.
Jack Hughes, a high-scoring centre for the Toronto Marlboros who had to deal with the pressure of performing in the huge wake of another famous Marlie grad – a guy by the name of Connor McDavid.
Kaiden Guhle, a hard-hitting, fast-skating defenceman with the Okanagan Hockey Academy Edmonton Bantam Preps who's doing a great job following in the footsteps of his big brother.
Justin Sourdif, an impressive power forward who leans on a hard-working dad who never even played hockey to help him get to where he wants to go.
You'll also read the exclusive scouting reports on this year's HockeyNow class from ISS (International Scouting Services) Hockey. ISS founder and Director of Scouting, Dennis MacInnis, plays a huge role in determining the yearly winners of the award, which emphasize "leadership, hockey ability and school and community participation.” A final nomination list of players is tabulated and a trio of players from three provinces are then selected as the ultimate winners.
But, to be honest, HockeyNow also comes away from the process feeling like winners.
After all, there's nothing better than making that initial telephone call and breaking the news to excited young men and their families.
"Congratulations, you've been named the HockeyNow Player of the Year."
It's a hockey fraternity that just keeps on growing, and it's a pleasure to celebrate their success.
So, with that in mind, we invite you to sit back, get comfortable and read on.
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