Rayside Balfour Canadians of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League finished the halted 2019-2020 season — per the COVID-19 virus — as West Division champions.
And not only has the team taken to thanking its fans and supporters for a successful season under the first year ownership of Mark Burgess, RBC has also confirmed its player award winners for the 2019-2020 campaign.
“With the onset of the COVID-19 virus that ended our season, I would like to reach out and sincerely thank our fans who supported the Canadians this season,” began RBC senior advisor and managing director Blaine Smith.
“Our crowds increased by 33 per cent from the start of the season thanks to the hockey fans of Rayside Balfour and some very supportive businesses.
“Most importantly,” added Smith, “the development of our players was outstanding thanks to an amazing group of young players and returning veteran players that came together.”
As for the Rayside Balfour award winners, they are as follows.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: DAVID BOWEN — The 19-year old veteran goaltender had an outstanding season including a shutout win over the Canadian Hockey League’s top-ranked Ottawa 67s as a call-up with the Ontario Hockey League Sudbury Wolves in February. Bowen finished the NOJHL regular season with a 18-5-0 win-loss record, a 2.65 goals against average and a .924 save percentage.
TOP SCORERS: NICHOLAS DEGRAZIA and MITCHELL MARTIN — The rookie skaters enjoyed sizzling success and led the team with 61 points apiece to finish tied for sixth-place in NOJHL scoring. Both were also named as RBC’s top rookies.
TOP DEFENCEMAN: ZACHARY SNOW — The 20-year old veteran was the Canadians captain and led all defenders in scoring with 37 points.
SCHOLASTIC AWARD: JOEL MONGEON — The veteran defenceman attended Laurentian University with outstanding grades.
MOST SPORTSMANLIKE: DYLAN BERTRAND — The rookie defender had 15 points in 48 games while spending only 10 minutes in the penalty box.
COMMUNITY SERVICE: SAMUEL VACHON — The young forward and OHL draft pick of the Sudbury Wolves donated much of his free time to the youth of the community.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER: MATTHEW BELANGER— The 18-year-old forward made the jump from the Sudbury high school league and became one of the Canadians most prolific players with 28 goals, 21 assists, 49 points in 54 games.
BEST OVERALL FORWARD: BEN HATANAKA — The 20-year-old forward from Burlington enjoyed another outstanding season as he wrapped up his two year career with the Canadians by netting 52 points in 55 games.
HARDEST WORKING PLAYERS: MATIEU DOKIS-DUPUIS AND BRADY MALTAIS.
TEAM LEADERSHIP AWARD: GREG ARNBURG.