GM Ice Dogs earn MVP, goaltender and coach of the year

By Michael Christianson

With the SIJHL playoffs set to begin March 29 at home for the Dryden GM Ice Dogs more accolades have been given to the team on their incredible regular season.

The Superior International Junior Hockey League announced Tuesday that Dryden GM Ice Dogs forward Braeden Allkins has been named the SIJHL’s Mallon’s Corporate Impressions/Play It Again Sports Most Valuable Player for the 2016-17 season.

Allkins garnered the accolades over fellow MVP finalist Jared Virtanen of the Fort Frances Lakers. Nicholas Nigro of the Thunder Bay North Stars was also a nominee for the award in voting completed by each of the league-member clubs.

The 20-year-old from Golden, B.C., led the SIJHL in both goals and points during the campaign as he notched 53 tallies while chipping in with 44 assists for 97 points overall.

His totals set a new Dryden franchise mark for goals and points in a single season and he also led the way in SIJHL power play markers with 16 and game-winning goals with eight while tying for first in shorthanded efforts with four.

By scoring 53 times it marked the second-highest total in the entire 132-team Canadian Junior Hockey League in 2016-17.

Goaltender Patrick Zubick has been named the SIJHL’s top goaltender for the 2016-17 season.

In 29 appearances during the campaign, the 20-year-old Castlegar, B.C., product posted a solid 21-4-3-0 record and led all SIJHL netminders in both goals-against average and save percentage at 2.30 and .931 respectively.

“I was pretty happy, obviously it’s nice the recognition but it’s more or less an indication of how good we are as a team this year, making life easy on the goalie so it’s a nice team award I like to think of it,” said Zubick.

A team effort and an experienced goalie in Ben Dennis gave Zubick the last piece he needed for a successful season.

“Benny has been awesome,” said Zubick. “It’s been nice to have a great 1B goalie out there too who can give you some nights off and to have a good guy like him around the room, the impact he has had is beyond words, having a good second quality goalie on the back end is huge for any team.”

Also this year Dryden GM Ice Dogs coach Kurt Walsten earned the top prize of SIJHL coach of the year.

Team president Mike Sveinson praised his coach for being prepared on day one.

“Every season we start with an advantage because we have Kurt here,” said Sveinson. “He’s a tireless recruiter, a respected bench boss and game planner and an extremely loyal member of the Ice Dogs staff. I’m happy for him that this year the league sees what I’ve seen for a long time now. This is the best coach in the SIJHL”

Walsten said the award was a team effort, from the players to the staff and everyone involved in hockey operations.

“If it wasn’t for Mike Sveinson none of this would be possible, along with everyone else, Mark Crespeigne as a coach and Neil Bruetsch as a trainer, when they’re doing their job it makes my job easier but without Mike Sveinson doing what he does maybe I never could of done what I’ve done with the players here.”

Walsten also wanted to point out the hard work of Director of Player Personnel/Equipment Manager, Darren Oliphant and team trainer Derek Oullette.

The Ice Dogs will take on the Fort Frances Lakers in the semifinal playoffs.

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