Everett Silvertips’ Olen Zellweger breaks away with the puck during the game against the Seattle Thunderbirds at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Everett Silvertips’ Olen Zellweger breaks away with the puck during the game against the Seattle Thunderbirds at Climate Pledge Arena on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Silvertips’ Zellweger named WHL Defenseman of the Year

The 18-year-old Anaheim Ducks draftee is the first Everett player to ever win the award.

CALGARY, Alberta — Olen Zellweger already made Everett Silvertips history during the 2021-22 WHL season. Wednesday night he did it again.

Everett’s star defenseman became the first Silvertip ever to be named the WHL Defenseman of the Year as he was awarded the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy during the league’s awards ceremony, which was held virtually Wednesday night.

Zellweger, an 18-year-old native of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, was nominated for the award by being named the U.S. Division’s Defenseman of the Year. He won the award ahead of the B.C. Division’s Gannon Laroque (Victoria), the Central Division’s Kaiden Guhle (Edmonton) and the East Division’s Denton Mateychuk (Moose Jaw).

“I’m very honored to take this award for best defensman in the WHL,” Zellweger said during his acceptance speech. “I couldn’t have gotten here without my teammates, coaching staff and everyone involved in Everett. I also want to thank my parents and billet family for always keeping me prepared and ready to go to perform at the highest level I can. It was a great season and I’m very honored to have played with the team there. It’s a team award if anything.”

Zellweger had the best offensive season ever by an Everett defenseman. Despite appearing in just 55 games, Zellweger led the league in points by a defenseman (78), and his points per game (1.42) were the most by a WHL defender in 32 years. His point total also set a new single-season franchise record for points by a defender.

“Olen did an unbelievable job for us this season,” Everett coach Dennis Williams said in a press release. “He’s worked incredibly hard to get to where he is. His attention to detail, his hockey IQ, his compete, it’s what separates him as a player. We’re very proud of all that he’s been able to accomplish.”

By being named the WHL Defenseman of the Year Zellweger, who was a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL draft by the Anaheim Ducks, is now eligible for the CHL’s Defenseman of the Year award, where he’ll be up against the winners from the OHL and the QMJHL.

Everett was also named the WHL’s Business of the Year. It is the third time in the franchise’s 19-season history that the Tips won the award, joining 2009-10 and 2018-19.

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