The Quesnel Kangaroos held their annual awards banquet on Wednesday night (June 26) at the Billy Barker Hotel and Casino.
It has been almost four months since they dispatched of the Terrace River Kings to win their first CIHL playoff championship, and although it was raining outside, the mood was still quite high.
Five tables of players gathered to talk about the summer and their families, while taking the odd pot shot at each other. For many of them, it was their first time getting together since hoisting the cup on the West Fraser Centre’s ice.
Club president Tyler Coleman took to the stage to tell a few jokes at the expense of a couple players before a delicious buffet was properly attended to.
Once everyone had their fill, it was time to announce the awards.
Most Popular Player went to Tommy Grant, who was unable to attend the ceremony. The offensive juggernaut set the playoffs afire this spring with many multi-goal games.
The club’s netminder won Most Valuable Player honours. In his first season with the club, Brandon Peacock provided some more-than-solid goaltending.
The Top Scorer Award went to Alessio Tomassetti. With captain Waylon L’Heureux out for most of the season with a broken arm, Tomassetti had to take on a major leadership role in the 2018-19 season, and nothing leads a team quite like putting the puck in the net. His 18 goals and 13 assists were good enough for second in the league.
Rounding out the awards, Top Defenseman went to Ryan Reynolds; Rookie of the Year was awarded to Chad Kimmie, and Most Dedicated Player went to Jonathan Belyan.
Head coach Harley Gilks, who handed out the awards, says it was good to see his players again and points out the importance of showing some recognition for their efforts this year.
“Getting awards like this, whether you’re a young kid or a grown man, it still has the same effect on you; it means — heck yeah! — I did what I could do, so it has a lot of meaning for sure.”
For all the Roos fans wondering whether the team will be able to repeat their remarkable run last year, Gilks insists they can count on another great season.
“We have a few more young players coming that play some good hockey, so we’re going to pick up right where we left off.”
Waylon L’Heureux agrees the team is looking for strong.
“We have some new blood coming to the team,” he says, “There are a couple Quesnel boys that are coming out of junior that are pretty interested in playing, so we’re looking forward to getting them in here.
“It should be a competitive team.”
L’Heureux, who has been the team’s longest-serving captain, took to the stage to make a big announcement to those assembled.
While he still believes he can be a valuable member of the team, he will not be wearing a letter on his chest this season.
“My arm’s still been bugging me after eight months, and it’s probably only sitting at about 60 per cent right now strength-wise, and last year, I didn’t feel right because I hurt it in the first month, so we played the whole year without a captain on the ice, which I think it important,” he said.
He added since there is a good chance that he will not get to play every game this year, he believes it is time to let somebody else take on the captain role of the team.
“It’s a hard thing for me to do because once you’re at my age and you stop playing hockey, you usually can’t play it again competitively like this.
“I still think I can play, but I think it’s better to not have that role.”
For anyone looking to be a part of the team’s success this year, the Roos are looking to fill a couple of very important behind-the-scenes roles.
The Quesnel Kangaroos are looking for a treasurer, as well as for someone to organize all the volunteers, scorekeepers, referees and ticket booth attendants.
Contact the team through their Facebook page or tell one of the players next time you see them around town if you are interested in playing a vital role in running the squad.