By Chris Marchand
It was an evening for celebration and remembrance as the Dryden GM Ice Dogs reminisced on another SIJHL Championship winning season and looked ahead to hosting the Dudley Hewitt Cup in the weeks ahead.
The local Junior ‘A’ hockey club hosted their annual awards banquet at Best Western, April 26.
The elation of a back-to-back Bill Salonen Cup win was tempered by no shortage of adversity over the season like the unexpected loss of longtime trainer Jimmy Wright, challenges with player turnover and a vicious final series with the Thunder Bay North Stars.
Team Captain and retiring 20-year old Trevor Kavanaugh says he had to come home to find that which he has been seeking throughout his junior hockey career.
“Going into last year’s off-season I knew I only had one more shot at winning a championship,” said the Eagle Lake First Nation resident in his address to the crowd of teammates, billet families and Ice Dogs volunteers. “Since Dryden was hosting the Dudley, I thought it would be great to play in front of a home crowd — just how it all started growing up. Then my Dad had a critical accident that left him vulnerable and had me questioning my final year. The thought of being away from him when he was in that condition was unbearable. Getting traded to the Ice Dogs was the best news I could have heard.”
Even on a roster brimming with local talent, it was Woody Galbraith who captured the hearts of Ice Dogs family and fans. Galbraith took home the Community Spirit Award, the Coaches Award and the new Jim Wright Memorial Award for fan favourite.
The other big winner of the evening was no surprise, Jacen Bracko earned Most Valuable Player honours after a league leading 48 goals and 33 assists in the regular season. SIJHL defenseman of the Year Cory Dennis also garnered team honours.
Playoff MVP honours were shared by Ted Davis and goaltender Landon Pavlisin. Rookie of the Year was Evan Walls. Local boy Trey Palermo took home Most Sportsmanlike.
When the ‘Dogs finally do hang up their skates for the season, they will bid farewell to six 20 year-old players who are graduating out of junior hockey, including Trevor Kavanaugh, Tristan Simm, Cory Dennis, Tristan Knott, Jacen Bracko and Woody Galbraith.
General Manager Mike Sveinson hopes the community will get behind their local club for the Dudley Hewitt Cup which has been in development for a long time.
“This was a season like no other,” said Sveinson. “There was no off-season — for a lot of us it began in late 2016. We were working on it behind the scenes before we were sure we even had it and it’s been full-speed ahead until now. It’s been a long road.”