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Warriors Mateychuk, Yager nominated for Western Hockey League awards

Mateychuk named East Division nominee for defenceman of the year, Yager for rookie of the year; Tetachuk, Firkus jnamed Division All-Stars

After the kind of season they put together, it should come as no surprise that Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Denton Mateychuk and forward Brayden Yager find themselves up for Western Hockey League awards.

The WHL announced Thursday afternoon that Mateychuk was the East Division’s nominee for the Bill Hunter Trophy as defenceman of the year, while Yager will be up for the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year when the 2022 WHL Awards Show streams live on Wednesday, June 1.

The league also revealed its Division all-stars for the 2021-22 campaign, with Mateychuk landing First Team honours alongside goaltender Carl Tetachuk and forward Jagger Firkus on the Second Team.

To say the least, it was an absolute breakout season for the 17-year-old Mateychuk. After contending for the scoring lead among WHL defencemen for much of the season, he finished with 13 goals and 64 points and is ranked ninth among North American skaters for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.

The Dominion City, Man. product also played in the CHL / NHL Top Prospects Game and drew rave reviews for his performance as captain of Team White.

Also nominated are Kaiden Guhle (Edmonton Oil Kings, Central Division), Gannon Larocque (Victoria Royals, B.C. Division) and Olen Zellweger (Everett Silvertips, U.S. Division).

Yager picked up right where left off after a star-making turn in the East Division Hub last season, and he etched his name in the Warriors record books because of it. 

The Saskatoon product finished the season with 34 goals and 59 points, breaking Theoren Fleury’s decades-old record for most points by a 16-year-old. The third-overall pick in the 2022 WHL Bantam Draft also surpassed Brayden Point’s point total at that age. All told, Yager so far has 41 goals and 77 points in 87 WHL games.

Also up for the honour are Owen Pickering (Swift Current, Central Division), Andrew Cristall (Kelowna Rockets, B.C. Division) and Kevin Korchinski (Seattle Thunderbirds, U.S. Division).

Tetachuk’s selection to the Second All-Star Team came after a stellar campaign where he appeared in a career-high 53 games, putting together a 2,82 goals against average and .913 save percentage over that span. 

The overager from Lethbridge also recorded three shutouts and was named the WHL Goaltender of the Month in February as the Warriors continued their post-trade deadline run.

Firkus’ selection was also of little surprise given the 17-year-old’s impressive production right from the start of the season. The Irma, Alta. product led the Warriors in scoring with 36 goals and 80 points on the season and was ranked 33rd overall among North Americans in the NHL mid-season Draft rankings.

That number will likely get a lot smaller after what Firkus did at the Top Prospects Game, where he had a goal and an assist and was named Team White’s Player of the Game.

Joining Mateychuk as First Team All-Stars are goaltender Daniel Hauser (Winnipeg), defenceman Carson Lambos ( Winnipeg), forward Connor Bedard (Regina), forward Kyle Crnkovic (Saskatoon) and forward Matthew Savoie (Winnipeg).

Joining Tetachuk and Firkus are defenceman Ryker Evans (Regina), defenceman Chad Nychuk (Brandon), forward Ridly Greig (Brandon) and forward Tristan Robins (Saskatoon).