EDMONTON – Three Alberta hockey players highlight the list of 2016-17 major award winners announced today by Canada West.
University of Alberta Panda forward Kennedy Ganser is the Canada West Rookie of the Year in Women’s Hockey, while Mount Royal’s Sarah Weninger is the Student-Athlete Community Service honouree. In Men’s Hockey, University of Saskatchewan netminder Jordon Cooke was named Goalie of the Year.
Ganser, a former Team Alberta forward from Provost, led all Canada West rookies with 17 points this season, suiting up in all 28 games. Her 17 points were two more than UBC Thunderbird Mairead Bast, of Red Deer, while her seven goals were tied with Manitoba Bison Sheridan Oswald for tops among rookies. Ganser also showed her potential as a strong two-way forward, adding 84 shots and a +13 rating this season. Ganser is now the Canada West nominee for the U SPORTS Rookie of the Year.
“Kennedy has been a tremendous addition to our roster. She is the kind of player that coaches can build a program around. She has a high degree of skill and a hockey IQ to match. These abilities have made her a strong addition to all of our specialty situations,” said Howie Draper, head coach of the Pandas. “Despite her smaller stature, she competes like a giant on both sides of the puck. She is already and will continue to be a tough player to play against in the next four years of her career.”
Weninger, a fifth-year forward from Lethbridge, excelled both on and off the ice at Mount Royal. She finished tied for MRU’s scoring title this season, registering nine goals and four assists in 25 games.
Off the ice, Weninger is involved in several volunteer initiatives, including Hockey Alberta’s Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) program, which uses the game of hockey to teach life-skills and empower Canada’s marginalized youth. In addition to her involvement with HEROS, Weninger also attended Hockey Alberta’s Future Leaders Camp, which helps prepare coaches to play an active role in Hockey Alberta programs and within their communities.
Academically, Weninger has achieved a combined GPA of 3.66 over her last two academic semesters and is on pace to be an Academic All-Canadian this season. Weninger now moves forward as the conference nominee for the Marion Hilliard Award as the nation’s top student-athlete.
“Sarah is extremely committed to try and better those around her, whether it is in the hockey community, or life in general,” said Scott Rivett, head coach at Mount Royal. “Her relationship with HEROS is truly remarkable. Sarah has brought other players from our team out to work with them and many are continuing to build their own relationships with these kids on a weekly basis and are having a true impact in their lives. We raised over $3,000 and created an evening for these kids that most have never experienced and it was in large part to all the work that Sarah has put in.”
For a second consecutive season Jordon Cooke has been named Canada West’s top goalie, after posting a 19-4-1 record, 1.94 GAA, and .929 SV%. The Leduc native was the backbone of Saskatchewan’s tremendous campaign, which saw the Huskies claim the conference regular season title for a second straight season.
2016-17 has been a phenomenal season for Cooke, as the Leduc, Alta. product was also named to Canada’s team at the Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland over the holiday break. Cooke’s four shutouts this season tied the Canada West single-season record, and his seven career shutouts are the most among any active Canada West goalie.
Cooke now moves forward as the conference nominee for the U SPORTS Goaltender of the Year award, which has been won by a Canada West goalie all but once since being created in 2009-10, including last season by Cooke.
"Last year, Jordon stood out in his first full-year as our No. 1 goaltender. He helped calm a young team, leading us to the Canada West pennant," said Dave Adolph, head coach at the University of Saskatchewan. "In 2016-17, he made things look routine as our team skated to a first-place finish in the regular season. He and our young defence enabled us to lead the league with a very stingy 2.11 goals GAA. He loves to play and loves the challenge. We are very fortunate to have him in a Huskie uniform.”