The Quesnel Millionaires gathered just before the playoffs for the annual awards banquet to recognize outstanding achievements.
The top prize of the evening, the most valuable player award, went to Skyler Smutek, captain of the Millionaires and to Rigby Burgart.
Smutek was also recognized as the team’s top defenceman.
“It’s a great honour,” Smutek said, to be recognized in the same breath as previous recipients of the MVP award.
“It feels good.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
Rigby Burgart also received the unsung hero award.
Recognized as a physical player, Burgart was a little surprised by the recognition, but nonetheless appreciative.
“It’s nice to be recognized,” Burgart, a product of Fort St. James, said.
“This is where everything started for me,” Burgart said, referring to his first season as a Millionaire in the 2007-2008 season before spending two seasons with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.
“I love playing here and I kind of felt obligated to come back.
“My junior career started here so I thought I may as well finish it here.”
Rookie of the year honour went to Derek Huisman and David Thompson.
“They both worked hard every day,” Smutek said.
“I look to them to have great futures in Quesnel.”
“He’s [Huisman] scored some pretty key goals for us this year,” Daryl DeVries said of his linemate who was sidelined by a broken jaw.
“He deserved it for sure.”
Co-winner Thompson, was also effusive in his praise for Huisman.
“He’s a great player, he really deserved this,” Thompson said.
Thompson, a native of Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania, said he was honoured by the recognition.
“I’m glad, as a rookie I just wanted to work hard,” he said.
That is exactly what Thompson did for the Mills, work hard ane he turned out to be the most consistent defenceman on the year.
Thompson admits there were several adjustments he had to make as a rookie playing junior A hockey, the biggest of which was the intensity of the game.
“It’s just something I had to get used to,” he said with a shrug of the shoulders.
Spencer Graboski received the top scorer award with 15 goals and 21 assists.
“I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Graboski acknowledged.
“They pretty much did all the work.”
Graboski, in his second year with the Millionaires, almost doubled last year’s output (19 points), a goal he set for himself at the beginning of the season.
Most improved player award went to Bradley Buckingham.
“We sent him back to junior B for a month and when he came back he was a completely different player,” Hedley said.
“He’s come a long way,” linemate Taylor Orser added.
Most sportsman like award went to Daryl DeVries.
DeVries said he was honoured by the award, but at the same time recognized it would lead to some unwanted attention from his teammates.
“I’m getting bugged by the guys a little about it,” DeVries said with his trademark smile.
The Mills also recognized the 20-year-olds on the team, Smutek, Burgart and Orser, who are in their final year in the BCHL.
Orser, who joined the team late in the season, said he was impressed with the atmosphere around the Millionaires.
“We have great support from the community, win or lose, which is unbelievable,” Orser said.
“It’s been a blast.
“There’s a lot of potential in the dressing room and they’re great guys on the ice and off the ice.”
Smutek, who will be playing for the University of Connecticut Huskies next season, also said he was leaving with good memories despite the difficult season.
“I just love it here,” he said.
“From the organization to the guys on the team, even the rink.
“It’s going to be pretty sad when I don’t get to call Quesnel home anymore.”
Other awards handed out included the most dedicated award to Chris Kerr, the scholastic award went to Anderson White, the team ambassador award went to Thomas Hardy and Michael Spring was named the fan favourite.