Cooke cream of Rockets crop
Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet
Rockets goaltender Jordon Cooke was named team MVP...
Photo: Wayne Moore - Castanet
...while teammate Rourke Chartier took home three awards including top defensive forward and most sportmanlike
Jordon Cooke stood out above the rest.
On a team devoid of star quality, the 20-year-old netminder was deemed to be the most valuable to his team.
Cooke, a native of Leduc, AB, was named Most Valuable Player for the Kelowna Rockets during their annual awards ceremony Sunday at the Kelowna Community Theatre.
Prior to the announcement, head coach Ryan Huska said a season like the Rockets had, establishing numerous franchise and individual records, selecting individual award winners was no easy task.
Cooke was surprised it was his name that was called.
"Considering the team we have on any given night there was always that guy that stood out," understated Cooke.
"On the team we have anyone could win. That's just the way it goes."
Cooke finished in the top five in all important goaltender categories in the Western Hockey League.
He was second in wins (39) and goals against average (2.28), fourth in save percentage (0.924) and fifth in shutouts (4).
"It's a feel good award," Cooke says of the honour.
"To win an award like this in an organization like this with all the players that have won it before is a tremendous honour. But I'll say it til I'm blue in the face, I couldn't have won it without my team."
The Rockets tandem of Cooke and Jackson Whistle also finished third in goals allowed, just behind Edmonton and Victoria.
Cooke was also named the Rockets Humanitarian of the Year.
Rockets sophomore Rourke Chartier heard his name called three times during Sunday's ceremony.
Chartier was named the Rockets Top Scholastic Player, Most Sportsmanlike Player and top defensive forward.
"It's a special time of the year. Especially with playoffs coming it's nice to have a day to celebrate our accomplishments over the year," says Chartier.
"It's a team sport though. I don't try to look too much into these awards."
Looking back, Chartier says his first two years with the Rockets have been something special.
"I came in here as a 16-year-old just trying to learn my way a bit and we had 52 wins," says Chartier.
"You're thinking coming in I don't know if we can do that again but we can try. We lost a couple of good leaders but I think we knew all along we had something special and the way the boys clicked this year was nice."
Other award winners Sunday included:
- Rookie of the Year - Nick Merkley
- Top Defenceman - Damon Severson
- Top plus/minus - Cole Martin
- Leading Scorer - Myles Bell
- Unsung Hero - Cole Martin
Martin, who finished the season with a franchise record +61, learned later in the day that he also finished as the top plus-minus player in the WHL.
Edmonton defenceman Ashton Sautner was also a +61 entering the final game of the season Sunday but ended the game a minus two in a 5-0 loss to Red Deer.
After a day of reflection and celebration the Rockets now turn their attention to the Tri-City Americans, their first round playoff opponent.
"After last year we know we can't take anyone lightly but at the same time we have to be confident in who we are and what we can bring," says Chartier of the first round series.
"As long as we bring our A-game We should be alright."
A year ago the Rockets faced a Seattle team that finished 50 points below them in the standings and dropped the first three games before roaring back to win the series in seven.
Ironically, the Americans also finished 50 points behind the league champion Rockets.
While they set franchise record with 57 wins and 118 points, Cooke says that goes out the window starting Saturday.
Cooke says once the playoffs begin teams will be gunning for them as they had during the regular season.
"It's unbelievable but as Husk (Ryan Huska) said when playoffs start it doesn't mean anything," says Cooke.
"I think from the start of the year we've had that bullseye. Coming off the year last year we were expected to have a good team and this entire year we've been playing with a bullseye. It's in the back of our minds that we have to perform well and show why we have 118 points. It's a whole new season now."
The first two games of the opening round are set for Saturday (7 p.m.) and Sunday (5 p.m.) at Prospera Place.
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