BLOG: Silvertips clean up in Western Conference awards

EVERETT — The WHL announced its conference all-stars and award winners Wednesday and the Everett Silvertips were well-represented.

Goaltender Carter Hart was named the Western Conference Goaltender of the Year for the third straight year and was also honored as the Western Conference Player of the Year. He was the first-team goaltender on the Western Conference all-star team. Hart was named WHL Goaltender of the Month three times this season and led the league in save percentage (.947), goals-against average (1.60) and shutouts (seven). He also won a gold medal while backstopping Team Canada to the World Junior Championship in January. Hart also won the CHL Goaltender of the Year award following the 2015-16 season.

“Definitely it’s an honor to get recognized for those awards, but we finished first in the Western Conference this year,” Hart said. “That kind of goes to show what type of team we have and the group of guys that we’ve got, and it’s exciting now that we’re in playoff mode and everyone is excited to see what’s going to happen now.”

Everet general manager Garry Davidson had more effusive praise for Hart, whom he called a “franchise player.”

“There have been times this year where he’s absolutely been dominant and I believe he was very, very worthy of this,” Davidson said. “It’s the first time I’ve been involved with a goalie who has done what he’s done.”

Everett forward Patrick Bajkov was named a Western Conference second-team all-star after an overage season in which he rewrote the Silvertips offensive record book. He finished with 33 goals and 67 assists to become the organization’s first 100-point man and broke franchise record for career goals, career assists, career points and assists in a season. Bajkov recently signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Florida Panthers.

First-year Everett head coach Dennis Williams was named the Western Conference Coach of the Year as he led the team to its second consecutive U.S. Division title and sixth overall. The Tips finished with 47 victories, the second-most in franchise history. The Tips ended the year by winning 43 of their final 48 games after beginning the season 4-9-1. The team also set a franchise record with 246 goals.

Not to be outdone, Davidson was named the Western Conference Executive of the Year. Davidson made his big moves to upgrade the Everett roster when he added forward Garrett Pilon and defenseman Ondrej Vala. Davidson made the deal early and thereby avoided paying the high prices that other general managers made at the deadline. Davidson also complementary pieces in forwards Spencer Gerth, Luke Ormsby, Ethan O’Rourke and Bronson Sharp, and defenseman Jameson Murray.

“The big thing is that all those awards, for me, are tied to the hard work of people that surround us – players, scouts, everybody – which I think is the same for all the guys that have been nominated,” Davidson said. “It’s the good, hard work of lots of people. But again it’s nice to be recognized by your peers.”

The WHL Conference Awards are voted upon by all WHL general managers and head coaches.

All individual WHL Conference Award winners will be eligible for the overall league awards at the 2018 WHL Awards luncheon in Red Deer, Alta., on Wednesday, May 2.

For the latest Silvertips news follow Jesse Geleynse on Twitter.

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