EVERETT — Carter Hart doesn’t put much stock in individual accolades, but the Western Hockey League decided otherwise.
Hart, the Everett Silvertips’ Most Valuable Player, was also named the WHL Western Conference Goaltender of the Year, the league announced Wednesday. In addition, defenseman Noah Juulsen earned All-Western Conference second team honors.
Hart will now go against pal and Moose Jaw goalie Zach Sawchenko for the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy for the top netminder league-wide. The WHL will announce that winner on May 4.
“It’s definitely a great honor, but you look at the year that we’ve had and it reflects on how good of a year we’ve had,” Hart said. “A lot of people counted us out and expected us to finish in the lower half the conference and even in the lower half of the division.”
No Silvertip has ever won the Del Wilson Trophy. In fact, the Silvertips haven’t had a WHL award-winner since Kyle Beach won the Jim Piggott Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 2007.
Hart finished the year with a league-best 35 wins, was second in goals-against average (2.14), games played (63) and minutes played (3,693), tied for second in shutouts (six) and fifth in save percentage (.918).
“He’s worked very hard at his game,” Everett head coach Kevin Constantine said. “It was visible at 15. Not single-handedly, but he was a big part of a playoff series win over Spokane last year as a 16-year-old and followed that up now with his second full year in the league doing a fantastic job. He was our MVP for a reason. He is a good goalie and we were very dependant on him during the year.”
Yet the question remains whether or not Hart will play this weekend. He missed the Tips’ final four games with a lower-body injury and hasn’t played since Everett’s March 12 loss at Tri-City.
He also has not practiced with the Tips this week.
“You’re going to have to talk to coach about that,” Hart said, when asked about his weekend availability.
Constantine said there was no update on Hart’s status.
Juulsen was Montreal’s first-round draft pick in last June’s NHL draft and finished with seven goals and 21 assists in 63 games.
“He’s such a committed player so he takes — in an appropriate way — he takes the game very seriously whether it’s practice or video or a meeting or learning or being corrected or being critiqued,” Constantine said. “He works hard at the game and I love how he plays. He brings a very warrior-like (attitude). He’s battle-ready almost all night. He loves the physical part of the game. He’s a bit of a throwback in how he likes to play the game.”
The Abbotsford, B.C., native missed several games due to his attendance at training camp for Team Canada’s World Juniors team in December.
“It means a lot,” Juulsen said. “I think I had a pretty good season and I think I worked pretty hard this year.”
Players named to the Western Conference first team included Hart, Victoria defenseman Joe Hicketts, Seattle defenseman Ethan Bear, Kelowna forward Tyson Ballie, Seattle forward Mathew Barzal and Tri-City forward Parker Bowles. … Earning second team honors were Juulsen, Kamloops goalie Connor Ingram, Spokane defenseman Jason Fram, Victoria forward Tyler Soy, Prince George forward Chase Witala and Kamloops forward Collin Shirley. … Other Western Conference nominees for WHL awards include Victoria’s Cameron Hope (Executive of the Year), Dave Lowry (Coach of the Year), Soy (Most Sportsmanlike Player), Matthew Phillips (Rookie of the Year) and Hicketts (Top Defenseman and WHL Player of the Year).
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