Best of the West 2013

February 17, 2013 

No fans, no media, no scouts. The Best of the West voting is done by the insiders — players, management and broadcasters from the 10 clubs in the Western Conference of the Western Hockey League.

Therein lies the appeal, and why this marks the 25th edition of the poll.

The Victoria Times-Colonist in British Columbia founded the survey in 1989. At the request of the Times-Colonist, the Herald took over the poll in 1994 after the Victoria Cougars left Vancouver Island for Prince George.

This year, 52 ballots were returned, one less than last season.

In the early years of the poll, clubs asked individual players to vote on each of the 20 categories. Now, many organizations break into groups of three or four to collaborate on a ballot.

To prevent ballot-box stuffing, voters were not permitted to select anyone from their own organization. Teams with key players moved at the trade deadline were asked to vote on rosters as of mid-January.

Voters ranked the Top 4 in each category, resulting in a 4-3-2-1 point system. On a few ballots, some categories listed fewer than four names.

In the Top Referee category, a quarter of the 208 possible entries were left blank.

The figures listed are the percentage of points possible.

For example, Portland’s Seth Jones received 30 of a possible 52 first-place votes in the Best Pro Prospect category.

The clubs represented are a combination of the B.C. Division (Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Prince George Cougars, Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals) and the U.S. Division (Everett Silvertips, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans).

Statistics listed are through Friday’s games.

Best Fans

Everett • 53.6%

Last year, Tri-City ended Everett’s six-year reign, but the Silvertips fans are back on top, more than 4,800 loud and proud every night.

Also
Tri-City . . . . 52.1%
Spokane . . . . 42.1%
Portland . . . . 41.9%
Kelowna . . . . 30.9%
Vancouver . . . . 15.9%
Victoria . . . . 12.4%
Kamloops . . . . 11.4%
Seattle . . . . 0.07%
Prince George . . . . 0.007%

Past winners
2012, Tri-City; 2006-11, Everett; 2005-03, Kelowna; 2002-1999, Prince George; 1998-94, Portland; 1993, Seattle.

Top Executive

Bruce Hamilton, Kelowna • 76.72%

Several good years of bantam drafts have the Rockets sitting atop the B.C. Division and second in the West.

Also
Craig Bonner, Kamloops . . . . 52.4%
Tim Speltz, Spokane . . . . 40.9%
Bob Tory, Tri-City . . . . 26.6%
Cameron Hope, Victoria . . . . 18.8%
Scott Bonner, Vancouver . . . . 10.3%

Past winners
2012-11, Bob Tory, Tri-City; 2010-2008, Scott Bonner, Vancouver; 2007, Bob Tory, Tri-City; 2006, Scott Bonner, Vancouver; 2005-03, Bruce Hamilton, Kelowna. 2002-01, Mike Moore, Kamloops.

Top Coach

Ryan Huska, Kelowna • 76.4%

After a slow start to the season, the Rockets have taken off, including a 23-game win streak on home ice.

Also
Don Nachbaur, Spokane . . . . 58.6%
Guy Charron, Kamloops . . . . 47.7%
Jim Hiller, Tri-City . . . . 28.7%
Dave Lowry, Victoria . . . . 27.1%
Travis Green, Portland . . . . 11.2%

Past winners
2012, Guy Charron, Kamloops; 2011, Don Nachbaur, Spokane; 2010-09, Don Hay, Vancouver; 2008, Don Nachbaur, Tri-City; 2007, Dean Clark, Kamloops. 2006, Don Hay, Vancouver. ; 2005, Jeff Truitt, Kelowna. ; 2004-03, Marc Habscheid, Kelowna. ; 2002, Ed Dempsey, Prince George.

Best Overage Player

Justin Feser, Tri-City • 77.4%

Tied for 6th in league scoring, but first among overage players with 32 goals and 45 assists.

Also
Troy Rutkowski, Portland . . . . 50.1%
Brenden Kichton, Spokane . . . . 47.5%
Brendan Ranford, Kamloops . . . . 33.1%
Alex Gogolev, Victoria . . . . 18.5%
Mac Carruth, Portland . . . . 10.8%

Past winners
2012, Adam Hughesman, Tri-City; 2011, Tyler Johnson, Spokane; 2010, Shane Harper, Everett; 2009, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Vancouver; 2008, Colton Yellow Horn, Tri-City ; 2007, Aaron Gagnon, Seattle ; 2006, Adam Cracknell, Kootenay; 2005, Adam Courchaine, Vancouver; 2004, Ryan Kinasewich, Tri-City.

Most Valuable to Team

Justin Feser, Tri-City • 64.6%

Leads the team in goals (32), assists (45) and points (77). Has played 306 consecutive games.

Also
Brenden Kichton, Spokane . . . . 44.8%
Colin Smith, Kamloops . . . . 38.1%
Eric Comrie, Tri-City . . . . 16.6%
Myles Bell, Kelowna . . . . 15.7%
Alex Gogolev, Victoria . . . . 15.2%

Past winners
2012, Brendan Gallagher, Vancouver; 2011-10, Calvin Pickard, Seattle; 2009, Dustin Tokarski, Spokane; 2008, Oscar Moller, Chilliwack; 2007, Aaron Gagnon, Seattle; 2006, Carey Price, Tri-City. ; 2005-04, Nigel Dawes, Kootenay; 2003, Kiel McLeod, Kelowna; 2002, Dan Hamhuis, Prince George.

Top Defensive Forward

Taylor Peters, Portland • 71.1%

Winterhawks have allowed just 2.27 goals per game. Peters is a plus-26 with 2 short-handed goals.

Also
Justin Feser, Tri-City . . . . 47.8%
Colton Sissons, Kelowna . . . . 43.1%
Mike Aviani, Spokane . . . . 19.5%
Dylan Willick, Kamloops . . . . 14.8%
Brendan Rouse, Vancouver . . . . 8.3%

Past winners
2012, Chase Schaber, Kamloops; 2011-09, Tyler Johnson, Spokane; 2008, Mario Bliznak, Vancouver; 2007, Alex Aldred, Tri-City; 2006, Tyler Spurgeon, Kelowna ; 2005, Adam Taylor, Kootenay; 2004, Cam Paddock, Kelowna; 2003, Ryan Cuthbert, Kelowna.

Best Stay-At-Home D-Man

Tyler Wotherspoon, Portland • 50.1%

Has a plus-48 rating, tops among league defensemen, but more impressive is his paltry 20 penalty minutes.

Also
Tyler Hansen, Kamloops . . . . 30.2%
Sam Grist, Kamloops . . . . 29.1%
Joel Edmundson, Kamloops . . . . 26.9%
Zach Yuen, Tri-City . . . . 17.4%
Daniel Gibb, Prince George . . . . 15.4%

Past winners
2012, Corbin Baldwin, Spokane; 2011-10, Jared Cowen, Spokane; 2009, Tyler Myers, Kelowna; 2008, Luke Schenn, Kelowna; 2007, Brett Festerling, Vancouver ; 2006, Mark Fistric, Vancouver ; 2005-04, Shea Weber, Kelowna. ; 2003, Matt Spiller, Seattle ; 2002-01, Kurt Sauer, Spokane.

Best 16-Year-Old

Tyler Sandhu, Everett • 56.8%

Second-leading scorer for 16 year olds in the Western Conference with 11 goals and 12 assists.

Also
Rourke Chartier, Kelowna . . . . 51.5%
Joe Hicketts, Victoria . . . . 50.5%
Payton Lee, Vancouver . . . . 28.6%
Jordan Thomson, Kamloops . . . . 12.4%
Ty Mappin, Everett . . . . 10.8%

Past winners
2012, Alex Forsberg, Prince George; 2011, Derrick Pouliot, Portland; 2010, Shane McColgan, Kelowna; 2009, Brett Connolly, Prince George; 2008, Tyson Barrie, Kelowna; 2007, Kyle Beach, Everett ; 2006, Thomas Hickey, Seattle; 2005, Zach Hamill, Everett; 2004, Gilbert Brule, Vancouver ; 2003, Mike Card, Kelowna.

Top Rookie

Seth Jones, Portland • 88%

The projected first-round pick in this year’s NHL draft, is third among league D-men in scoring (44 points), with a plus-34 rating.

Also
Oliver Bjorkstrand, Portland . . . . 46.9%
Roberts Lipsbergs, Seattle . . . . 35.1%
Mirco Mueller, Everett . . . . 24.8%
Parker Bowles, Tri-City . . . . 14.5%
Alexander Delnov, Seattle . . . . 14.4%

Past winners
2012, Tim Bozon, Kamloops; 2011, Sven Bartschi, Portland; 2010, Nino Niederreiter, Portland; 2009, Brett Connolly, Prince George; 2008, Jamie Benn, Kelowna; 2007, Kyle Beach, Everett ; 2006, Peter Mueller, Everett ; 2005, Andrej Meszaros, Vancouver; 2004, Gilbert Brule, Vancouver ; 2003, Jonas Johansson, Kamloops.

Best Goaltender

Eric Comrie, Tri-City • 71.6%

The Pickards are gone. Comrie took over with a 2.62 GAA and a .915 save percentage before an injury ended his season.

Also
Jordon Cooke, Kelowna . . . . 67.6%
Mac Carruth, Portland . . . . 58.1%
Cole Cheveldave, Kamloops . . . . 22.9%
Patrik Polivka, Victoria . . . . 15.6%
Austin Lotz, Everett . . . . 10.3%

Past winners
2012-10, Calvin Pickard, Seattle; 2009-08, Chet Pickard, Tri-City; 2007-06, Carey Price, Tri-City; 2005, Jeff Glass, Kootenay; 2004, Kelly Guard, Kelowna; 2003, Billy Thompson, Prince George ; 2002, Shane Bendera, Kelowna.

Hardest Shot

Myles Bell, Kelowna • 73.3%

Was second in this category last year. The voting shows it’s not wise to be a hero and block one of his shots.

Also
Seth Jones, Portland . . . . 38.1%
Landon Oslanski, Everett . . . . 28.6%
Brenden Kichton, Spokane . . . . 16.6%
Troy Rutkowski, Portland . . . . 16.2%
Damon Severson, Kelowna . . . . 9.3%

Past winners
2012, Joe Morrow, Portland; 2011, Sena Acolatse, Prince George; 2010, Kevin Connauton, Vancouver; 2009, Jamie Benn, Kelowna; 2008, Dan Gendur, Everett. ; 2007-06, Roman Teslyuk, Tri-City; 2005, Dustin Byfuglien, Prince George; 2004, Richie Regehr, Portland , 2003, Matt Spiller, Seattle; 2002, Josef Balej, Portland.

Best Skater

Colin Smith, Kamloops • 39.2%

Weaved his way up and down the ice with the greatest of ease for 37 goals and 92 points — third best in the league.

Also
Derrick Pouliot, Portland . . . . 26.3%
Justin Feser, Tri-City . . . . 20.1%
Malte Strömwall, Tri-City . . . . 18.1%
Seth Jones, Portland . . . . 17.5%
Alessio Bertaggia, Spokane . . . . 15.1%

Past winners
2012, Ryan Murray, Everett; 2011, Tyler Johnson, Spokane; 2010, Prab Rai, Seattle; 2009-08, Thomas Hickey, Seattle; 2007, Michael Grabner, Spokane; 2006, Ryan Russell, Kootenay ; 2005-04, Shawn Belle, Tri-City ; 2003, Scottie Upshall, Kamloops. ; 2002-01, Josef Balej, Portland.

Top Faceoff Man

Taylor Peters, Portland • 64.7%

Possession of the puck leads to goals, which the Winterhawks have scored a league high 265.

Also
Justin Feser, Tri-City . . . . 49.5%
Colin Smith, Kamloops . . . . 27.3%
Luke Lockhart, Seattle . . . . 25.4%
Colton Sissons, Kelowna . . . . 20.5%
Mike Aviani, Spokane . . . . 17.8%

Past winners
2012, Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City; 2011-09, Tyler Johnson, Spokane; 2008, Mario Bliznak, Vancouver; 2007, Aaron Gagnon, Seattle; 2006, Tyler Spurgeon, Kelowna; 2005, Adam Taylor, Kootenay ; 2004, Jarret Lukin, Kamloops; 2003, Blake Robson, Prince George.

Most Underrated Player

Justin Feser, Tri-City • 49.8%

Ran away with the voting. Leads the Americans in scoring (77 points) — almost 30 points better than the next guy.

Also
Mitch Holmberg, Spokane . . . . 19.2%
Taylor Peters, Portland . . . . 19.1%
Zach Franko, Kelowna . . . . 18.9%
Todd Fiddler, Spokane . . . . 17.1%
Myles Bell, Kelowna . . . . 12.8%

Past winners
2012, Patrick Holland, Tri-City; 2011, Adam Hughesman, Tri-City; 2010, Shane Harper, Everett; 2009, C.J. Stretch, Kamloops; 2008, Colin Long, Kelowna ; 2007, Brock Nixon, Kamloops ; 2006, Ian McDonald, Tri-City; 2005, Clayton Stoner, Tri-City ; 2004, Shea Weber, Kelowna ; 2003, Tyler Mosienko, Kelowna.

Most Accurate Shot

Ty Rattie, Portland • 67.2%

Won for second year in a row. Fourth in league scoring with 86 points, including 35 goals.

Also
Myles Bell, Kelowna . . . . 52.8%
Todd Fiddler, Spokane . . . . 28.9%
Mitch Holmberg, Spokane . . . . 21.7%
Colin Smith, Kamloops . . . . 16.3%
Justin Feser, Tri-City . . . . 14.6%

Past winners
2011-10, Ryan Howse, Chilliwack; 2009, Jamie Benn, Kelowna; 2008, Colton Yellow Horn, Tri-City; 2007, Aaron Gagnon, Seattle; 2006, Justin Keller, Kelowna ; 2005-04, Nigel Dawes, Kootenay; 2003, Kiel McLeod, Kelowna; 2002, Josef Balej, Portland.

Most Irritating Player

Brendan Leipsic, Portland • 44.3%

Leads the league in scoring with 101 points, but runs his mouth as much as he scores.

Also
Carter Proft, Spokane . . . . 23.7%
Mike Aviani, Spokane . . . . 22.4%
Tyler Stahl, Victoria . . . . 20.9%
Kale Kessy, Kamloops . . . . 19.9%
Chase Souto, Kamloops . . . . 15.2%

Past winners
2012, Brad Ross, Portland; 2011, Curt Gogol, Chilliwack; 2010, Kyle Beach, Spokane; 2009, Zack Dailey, Everett; 2008-07, Garet Hunt, Vancouver; 2006-05, Brandon Dubinsky, Portland; 2004, Simon Ferguson, Kelowna. 2003, Blake Robson, Prince George; 2002-00, Brandin Coté, Spokane.

Toughest Player

Tyrell Goulbourne, Kelowna • 43.9%

Size isn’t everything. He’s laid a beat down on the rest of the wannabes. Has 18 fights to his credit.

Also
Lucas Grayson, Everett . . . . 42.4%
Mitch Elliot, Seattle . . . . 29.1%
Keegan Kanzig, Victoria . . . . 24.7%
Lukas Walter, Tri-City . . . . 21.5%
Jesse Mychan, Tri-City . . . . 19.9%

Past winners
2012, Josh Caron, Everett; 2011, Sena Acolatse, Prince George; 2010, Tayler Jordan, Portland; 2009, Ryley Grantham, Kelowna; 2008, Benn Olson, Seattle; 2007-06, Matt Kassian, Kamloops; 2005, Triston Grant, Vancouver; 2004, Cam McCaffrey, Tri-City; 2003-02, Darren McLachlan, Seattle; 2001, Derek Boogaard, PG.

Best Pro Prospect

Seth Jones, Portland • 82.7%

The son of a second-round NBA draft pick, is ranked No. 1 on the midseason NHL Draft Prospects Big Board.

Also
Ty Rattie, Portland . . . . 35.9%
Nic Petan, Portland . . . . 27.6%
Eric Comrie, Tri-City . . . . 19.4%
Shea Theodore, Seattle . . . . 17.1%
Ryan Murray, Everett . . . . 12.5%

Past winners
2012, Ryan Murray, Everett; 2011, Ryan Johansen, Portland; 2010, Nino Nieder-reiter, Portland; 2009, Evander Kane, Vancouver; 2008, Oscar Moller, Chilliwack; 2007, Peter Mueller, Everett; 2006, Carey Price, Tri-City; 2005-04, Braydon Coburn, Portland; 2003, Scottie Upshall, Kamloops; 2002, Dan Hamhuis, Prince George.

Most Improved Player

JC Lipon, Kamloops • 51.2%

Went from fifth last year to first. He also went from 19 goals to 30 (so far) and 65 to 77 points — all in 50 games.

Also
Nic Petan, Portland . . . . 47.8%
Todd Fiddler, Spokane . . . . 37.1%
Jackson Houck, Vancouver . . . . 13.5%
Myles Bell, Kelowna . . . . 13.3%
Cole Ully, Kamloops . . . . 10.1%

Past winners
2012, Ty Rimmer, Tri-City; 2011, Brendan Ranford, Kamloops; 2010, Brendan Shinnimin, Tri-City; 2009, C.J. Stretch, Kamloops; 2008, Colin Long, Kelowna; 2007, Brock Nixon, Kamloops. ; 2006, Ian McDonald, Tri-City; 2005, Aaron Gagnon, Seattle; 2004, Brad Schell, Spokane; 2003, Jesse Schultz, Kelowna; 2002.

Top Referee

Pat Smith • 34.7%

Another down year for officials — a quarter of the ballots were left blank. Won for the third year.

Also
Steve Papp . . . . 27.7%
Brett Montsion . . . . 23.6%
Sean Raphael . . . . 10.7%
Jason Cramer . . . . 10%
Brett Iverson . . . . 8.8%

Past winners
2010-08, Andy Thiessen; 2004-07, Rob Matsuoka; 2003-01, Kevin Acheson; 2000-1999, Kelly Sutherland; 1998-93, Tom Kowal. ; 1992-91, Brad Davis.

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