City minor hockey association recognizes its standouts

Chris Quigley
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Dan Whitten will not only be a high school graduate this year, but also a graduate of the Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association.

“The last year you want to finish strong,” he said. “I wanted to make sure my last year was fun.”

Whitten did all that, and more, obviously as he captured the Don Brown Memorial Award as the midget player of the year Wednesday night at the association’s second awards banquet of the season at Corner Brook Regional High School. A separate banquet for the Timbit and novice age groups was held Monday evening.

“It’s an incredible feeling, I’ve got to say,” said Whitten of his award. “It’s a pleasant surprise, for sure.”

He will be heading to Fredericton, N.B. in the fall to pursue leadership studies at the University of New Brunswick. With his minor hockey days now over, he said he wants to stay involved in the game to some degree, maybe in a recreational league at the university.

“I’d say I’ll just keep up with it for fun, maybe as a de-stresser,” Whitten said. “The love of the game is still there, so I don’t plan to give it up quite yet.”

Karli Gale, a 15-year-old Grade 10 student at Corner Brook Regional High, was awarded the Fred Price Award as senior female player of the year.

“Oh my God, I was shaking a lot,” Gale said. “I’m just really thankful for it.”

She began playing hockey about “five or six years ago,” in the atom division, where she competed mainly against boys. This was the first year she played in an all-female division.

“(Female hockey) has changed a lot,” she said. “It’s gotten more competitive since back then and there are a lot more girls playing now.”

The division has an under-20 cutoff, so Gale plans on being on the Pepsi Centre ice again next season — and beyond.

“I’ve got a couple of years left yet,” she said.

Aaron Mercer’s name will likely also become a familiar one, as the peewee netminder took home the Joshua King Memorial Award for goalie of the year.

All goalies from all divisions were eligible for the honour, so Mercer wasn’t expecting his name to be called.

“I was actually really surprised,” he said, noting the bantam Corner Brook team won at provincials, while his team didn’t, so he expected bantam goalie Brad Power to receive the award.

“He’s a really good goalie,” Mercer said. “I thought he was going to win it.”

A goalie for the past five years, he was first inspired to don the pads by watching goalies like Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. Now, this award serves as its own inspiration.

“Definitely, because it means I’m the top goalie for the year,” he said.

“So now I’ll try to keep getting it every year.”

The following are other winners from the Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association’s awards banquet on Wednesday night:

Junior female player of the year — Grace Hatcher

Atom player of the year (Michael Martin Memorial Award) — Ben Smith

Peewee player of the year (Harold Pike Memorial Award) — Alex Griffin

Bantam player of the year — Ryan Roche

Official of the year (Gary Callahan Award) — Joel Hatcher

Sponsor of the year (EL Bugden Award) — Corner Brook West Sports Club

Volunteer of the year (Joe Gallant Memorial Award) — Serena Applin

Coach of the year — Brad Penney

Special recognition — Tracey Hatcher

Organizations: Corner Brook Minor Hockey Association, Corner Brook Regional High School, University of New Brunswick Pepsi Centre Montreal Canadiens

Geographic location: Fredericton, Corner Brook

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