WHL names Division nominees for Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy
Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today the 2021-22 Division nominees for the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the WHL’s Executive of the Year.
WHL Division Awards are voted upon by General Managers.
All individual WHL Division Award winners will be eligible for the overall WHL Awards, to be announced June 1, 2022.
WHL Executive of the Year Nominees
B.C. Division – Bruce Hamilton – Kelowna Rockets
Central Division – Brent Sutter – Red Deer Rebels
East Division – Matt Cockell – Winnipeg ICE
U.S. Division – Bil La Forge – Seattle Thunderbirds
WHL Executive of the Year Nominee Biographies
Matt Cockell (Winnipeg ICE): The Winnipeg ICE finished the 2021-22 Regular Season with the best record in the WHL, finishing the season with 53 wins and 111 points. Cockell’s prior work at the WHL Draft table came to fruition in 2021-22, with former first-overall pick Matthew Savoie leading all WHL rookies in scoring with 90 points, and the ICE completing the campaign with a +165 goal differential. Cockell orchestrated a trio of notable mid-season moves, acquiring Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Jack Finley, veteran forward Chase Wheatcroft and defenceman Tanner Brown to round out the Winnipeg roster.
Bruce Hamilton (Kelowna Rockets): The Kelowna Rockets logged their seventh 40-win season in the past ten years, and under Hamilton’s guidance enter the WHL playoffs as the second-place Club in the B.C. Division. Hamilton added a pair of NHL prospects in forward Colton Dach and goaltender Talyn Boyko over the course of the campaign, also helping usher along the future in 16-year-old Andrew Cristall, who set a franchise record for players of his age with 28 goals during the Regular Season.
Bil La Forge (Seattle Thunderbirds): Tasked with restocking the Thunderbirds cupboards following a WHL Championship five years ago, La Forge has quietly built one of the deepest lineups in the League. Buoyed by seven NHL prospects including mid-season acquisition Lukas Svejkovsky, Seattle finished the season with a 44-18-4-2 record, good for the fourth seed in the Western Conference. The list of NHL prospects is likely to grow this summer; the Thunderbirds had three players participate at the Kubota CHL / NHL Top Prospects Game this past March.
Brent Sutter (Red Deer Rebels): The Red Deer Rebels underwent a transformation in the summer of 2021 thanks to moves made by Sutter on the ice and behind the bench. The hiring of 2017 WHL Champion Steve Konowalchuk as head coach, coupled with savvy acquisitions like veteran forward Liam Keeler and 19-year-old goaltender Connor Ungar helped usher in a new era of success in Red Deer, as the Rebels finished the 2021-22 Regular Season with 94 points, the fifth-highest total in the Club’s 30-year history.
About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 375 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.