Last season, Tristan Keck was playing High School Hockey in Morris. This season, he was the best newcomer in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
It was quite a jump and quite an accomplishment.
“It’s kind of an amazing story,” said Winkler Flyers head coach Ken Pearson. “The high school program is pretty good but it’s a big jump to go from there to this level. It’s also a big change in style. He has to play at both ends of the rink within our system. In high school, it was ‘Hey Tristan, go get the puck and score.’ He’s made an incredible adjustment.”
On Friday, the diminutive centre/rightwinger was named winner of the Vimce Leah Trophy, emblematic of rookie of the year in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for the 2012-13 season.
“It’s been a good year and I’m pleased with how things have gone,” Keck said. “My goal was to try to get a point a game and I’ve accomplished that so far. So yeah, it’s been a good year.”
On the day he was named the MJHL’s top rookie, Keck, 17, had 24 goals and 52 points after 51 games. The runners-up for the Leah Trophy were two outstaidng players – defenseman Justin Baudry of the Steinbach Pistons and the gifted Garrett Johnston of the Swan Valley Stampeders.
As for the jump he had to make to win the top rookie award, Keck had nothing but kudos for the provincial high school league.
“High School hockey was a good level of play, I enjoyed it,” said Keck, who once played a nine-minute shift at Morris High School. “Yeah, I got to play a lot in high school and that was great, but I’m not unhappy with the icetime I’ve been getting here in Winkler.”
Keck was one of six trophy winners announced on Friday. According to the news release sent out by the MJHL, here are the other winners:
Guillaume Naud, 20, of the Dauphin Kings has been named the MJHL’s most valuable player. Naud, who hails from Quebec City, has been awarded the Steve “Boomer” Hawrysh Award, given annually to the MVP winner.
“All the award winners should be extremely proud of themselves,” MJHL Commissioner Kim Davis said today. “All of the award winners were selected based on voting by the coaches of our league.”
Runners-up for the MVP were Parker Thomas of the Selkirk Steelers and Kajon McKay of Portage Terriers.
Top Goaltender: Adam Iwan, Portage Terriers
Iwan, 19, has been outstanding this season, reflected in a 20-12 record and 3.04 GAA. The Winnipeg product has a .905 save percentage this season.
The runners-up were Jeremy Pominville of the Dauphin Kings and Justin McDonald of the OCN Blizzard.
Top Defenseman – Brian Kozak Trophy: Tanner Butler, Dauphin Kings.
The 19-year-old native of Souris, has been outstanding along the blueline, and also has an offensive flare reflected in 42 points (six goals and 36 assists) after 51 games.
The runners-up were Josh Elmes of the OCN Blizzard and Tanner Jago of the Winkler Flyers.
Hockey Ability – Lorne “Windy” Lyndon Trophy: Connor Cleverley, Winnipeg Blues.
Cleverley, 20, hails from Winnipeg and has been a key figure in the Blues’ offensive attack this season. He has 34 goals and 60 points after 51 games.
The runners-up were Jory Mullin of the Winkler Flyers and Brett Pinkerton of the Waywayseecappo Wolverines.
Coach of the Year – Portage Terriers “Muzz McPherson” Award: Don MacGillivray, Winnipeg Blues.
This award is named after colourful Murray (Muzz) McPherson, who led the Portage Terriers to a Centennial Cup championship in 1972-73. McPherson would be impressed with the outstanding coaching performance of MacGillivray, who has more than 500 career wins in the MJHL.
The runners-up were Paul Dyck of the Steinbach Pistons and Blake Spiller of the Portage Terriers.