First for Rocket Euro

Calvin Thurkauf recorded a Kelowna Rockets franchise first.

A native of Zug, Switzerland. Thurkauf became the first European import named the team's most valuable player.

Thurkauf grabbed the award during the club's annual awards ceremony Sunday afternoon at the Kelowna Community Theatre.

A first round selection in the 2015 import draft (59th overall), the 19-year-old led the team in goals with 33, and finished second in scoring with 70 points.

Thurkauf called the selection a great honour.

"I couldn't have done it without the team. Every opportunity comes with my linemates," said Thurkauf.

"Merks (Nick Merkley) and Reid (Gardiner) have been awesome the whole year, and I can really profit off their game. I think us as a line have been very productive, and I can't thank them enough for this opportunity."

Thurkauf's game really took off the beginning of December, prior to leaving for the World Junior Championships.

From that point to the end of the season, Thurkauf led the club with 24 goals and 49 points over 36 games. He was also effective on the penalty kill and hard on the forecheck.

Thurkauf said he always knew he had a good shot, but said he started using it more before Christmas and, the more confidence he got with it, the more he realized he could help the team.

Kole Lind walked away with two awards Sunday. He was the team's leading scorer with 86 points and was also named the most improved player.

Lind went nine games without a goal before hitting the scoresheet in both weekend wins over Vancouver.

He said it was good to get his groove back, but gave some of the credit to his mom who came into town for the weekend.

Other award winner Sunday include:

  • Cal Foote - top defenceman
  • Cal Foote - plus/minus leader
  • Konrad Belcourt - scholastic player
  • Nick Merkley - humanitarian
  • Nolan Foote - top rookie
  • Lucas Johansen -  most sportsmanlike
  • Devante Stephens - unsung hero
  • Rodney Southam - top defensive forward

The Rockets get back to work Monday as they prepare to face the Kamloops Blazers in the opening round of the playoffs.

The opening two games of the best-of-seven first round series go Friday and Saturday at Prospera Place. Games three and four are in Kamloops next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The teams went the full seven games last year, with Tomas Soustal scoring in overtime of game seven for the Rockets.

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