By Nick Patterson Herald writer
The 2013 Best of the West poll was released over the weekend. The poll is conducted annually by the Tri-City Herald. A total of 20 categories were voted on by the Western Conference’s players, management and broadcasters.
The Everett Silvertips came out on top in two categories. Winger Tyler Sandhu, who’s tied for first in scoring among 16-year-olds in the Western Conference, won the Best 16-Year-Old category. Sandhu received 56.8 percent of the possible point total, narrowly edging out Kelowna forward Rourke Chartier (51.5 percent) and Victoria defenseman Joe Hickets (50.5 percent).
Everett also reclaimed its spot atop the Best Fans category. The Tips won six straight years from 2006-11 before being beat out by Tri-City last year. This year Everett received 53.6 percent to Tri-City’s 52.1 percent.
Several other Everett players made the top six in categories. Winger Lucas Grayson was second in Toughest Player; defenseman Landon Oslanski was third in Hardest Shot; defenseman Mirco Mueller was fourth in Top Rookie; center Ty Mappin was sixth in Best 16-Year-Old; and Austin Lotz was sixth in Best Goaltender. Defenseman Ryan Murray, whose season came to an end because of a shoulder injury in October and is no longer in the league, still ended up sixth in Best Pro Prospect, a category he won last year.
The big winner this year was Tri-City’s Justin Feser. The 20-year-old center finished on top in three categories, being named Best Overage Player, Most Valuable to Team and Most Underrated Player. He also finished second in Top Defensive Forward and Top Faceoff Man, and third in Best Skater.
Portland had the other two multi-category winners. Center Taylor Peters beat out Feser for Top Defensive Forward and Top Faceoff Man. Defenseman Seth Jones was named Top Rookie and Best Pro Prospect.
The other category winners were: Portland’s Tyler Wotherspoon in Best Stay-At-Home Defenseman; Tri-City’s Eric Comrie in Best Goaltender; Kelowna’s Myles Bell in Hardest Shot; Kamloops’ Colin Smith in Best Skater; Portland’s Ty Rattie in Most Accurate Shot; Portland’s Brendan Leipsic in Most Irritating Player; Kelowna’s Tyrell Goulbourne in Toughest Player; Kamloops’ JC Lipon in Most Improved Player; Kelowna’s Ryan Huska in Top Coach; Kelowna’s Bruce Hamilton in Top Executive.
Pat Smith was voted the Top Referee. It was noted that a quarter of the participants left that answer blank.
Around the WHL
Rumblings have begun about the WHL heading back to Winnipeg. Winnipeg radio station CJOB reported that the owners of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets inquired about purchasing a WHL team. Two WHL teams, the Calgary Hitmen and the Edmonton Oil Kings, are owned and run by the NHL teams in their cities, with whom they share arenas. Winnipeg hasn’t had a WHL franchise since the Winnipeg Warriors in 1983-84. Currently there is just one WHL franchise in Manitoba, the Brandon Wheat Kings. ? Vancouver picked up a notable commitment when 15-year-forward Alex Baer, considered by some as the top freshman player in Minnesota, signed an education contract with the Giants. Baer was not selected in the 2012 bantam draft. ? Tri-City goaltender Troy Trombley, who spent training camp and the preseason with Everett and was brought in mid-season by the Americans, won his first start of the season when the Americans topped Western Conference-leading Portland 6-2 on Friday, then followed that up Saturday by posting his first career shutout when Tri-City beat Spokane 6-0.
Points — Brendan Leipsic (Portland) 103; goals — Leipsic, Nicolas Petan (Portland) 41; assists — Leipsic 62; penalty minutes — Carter Proft (Spokane) 171; wins — Cole Cheveldave (Kamloops), Luke Siemens (Prince Albert) 30; goals against average — Tristan Jarry (Edmonton) 1.56; save percentage — Jarry .938.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.