Less than 24 hours after establishing a new Summerland Steam single season points record with 69, the spotlight was back on Cody Swan.
After the Williams Lake product closed out the season with 23 goals and 69 points in 48 games, he was named the team’s most valuable player during the organizations awards banquet on Feb. 24.
“It’s nice to receive the award, but again it’s just a testament to the great players I played with this year,” said Swan, who broke Jack Mills’ record of 67 points from 2015-16. “Thanks to them.”
The 19-year-old said his focus this season was to improve his defensive game. Scoring has never been an issue. Last season as a rookie in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, Swan posted 21 goals and 55 points in 47 games with the Steam. He got his first taste of the KIJHL action with the 100 Mile House Wranglers, playing four games and chipping in two points over the two previous seasons. Swan said the Steam’s coaching staff have been great in working with him.
He liked hearing his name called for MVP, but added many of his teammates could have earned it.
Tyson Conroy was named most improved player. He was pleased to earn the award and that the coaches felt he deserved the recognition.
“I was really appreciative of the award,” says Conroy, adding he worked on his defensive game after previously being a forward in minor hockey. “I think I got better on this with the help of the coaches.”
Conroy focused on closing his gaps and making an effective first pass out of the defensive zone.
“You have to make sure that is crisp. It was hard to get used to from being a centreman,” he says. “It’s a lot different play.”
The fan favourite award is shared by a pair of linemates in Liam McLaren and Cairo Rogers, who form an effective line with Morey Babakaiff.
“It’s awesome. I think our line this year was an energy line. That kind of got the crowd into the game,” says Rogers, who chipped in eight goals and 14 points with 162 penalty minutes to lead the team. “We were always right in the middle of everything. It’s pretty awesome to see that there are some people out there that enjoyed watching us play. It’s a nice complement to have.”
“It’s kind of cool being the guys that like to stir the game up and be physical and work hard all the time,” said McLaren, who put up 12 goals and 22 points with 133 penalty minutes. “Just have the fans always going I guess. Everyone is always cheerful and excited to watch us play. That’s the nice part of it.”
And now the line is ready for the part of the season Rogers says they are built for – playoffs. They go to the net and battle for pucks, get greasy goals.
“That is a huge part of playoffs is getting to those dirty areas,” he adds.
Both felt that their line showed how effective they can be when playing between whistles and not engaging in opponent chatter, as they did against Osoyoos on Feb. 23. They combined for five points with Babakaiff netting two goals and McLaren one. Babakaiff finished the season with 15 goals and 28 points along with 155 penalty minutes.
Other award winners included Ty Banser for most sportsmanlike, top defence went to Ryan Allen and rookie of the year to Mitch Gove.