Schneider named WHL defenceman of the year

Photo Courtesy of Keith Hershmiller/WHL Prince Albert's Braden Schneider served as the captain for the Brandon Wheat Kings during the 2020-21 season.

Just days after helping Canada win a gold medal at the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Riga, Latvia, Prince Albert’s Braden Schneider has been selected as the best blueliner in the Western Hockey League for the 2020-21 season.

The Brandon Wheat Kings captain received the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s defenceman of the year on Tuesday afternoon as the league continued their virtual year-end awards.

The 19-year-old Schneider was the captain for the Wheat Kings during their run to the East Division title in the Regina hub and finished third in WHL defensive scoring with 27 points.

In addition to playing for Canada at the World Championship, the New York Rangers prospect also represented his country at the World Juniors in Edmonton over Christmas.

Schneider joins Ivan Provorov and Brad McCrimmon as Wheat Kings blueliners who have won the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy.

Kale Clague also received the honour in 2018, but he was traded to the Moose Jaw Warriors at that year’s trade deadline.

Matthew Robertson of the Edmonton Oil Kings, Alex Kannok-Leipert of the Vancouver Giants and Nick Cicek of the Portland Winterhawks were nominated along with Schneider.

Tuesday’s other award announcement saw Oil Kings rookie blueliner Ethan Peters receive the Doc Seaman Trophy for scholastic player of the year.

The 18-year-old had a 94.67 per cent average in his Grade 12 classes at Vanier Collegiate in his hometown of Moose Jaw and the Regina Catholic Learning Online Program, in addition to posting five points in 23 games for the Central Division champions.

Nolan Allan of the Prince Albert Raiders, Jason Spizawka of the Victoria Royals and Mason Mannek of the Winterhawks were the other finalists.

Around the WHL

Steve Konowalchuk will be back behind a Western Hockey League bench next season as the 48-year-old was named as the new head coach for the Red Deer Rebels on Tuesday.

“When I found out Red Deer was looking for a coach and you find out there may be some interest there, it got my wheels spinning,” Konowalchuk said in an interview with Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate.

“With Red Deer being a top organization and a chance to grow as a coach and a hockey person, that really got me excited.”

Konowalchuk was the head coach for the Seattle Thunderbirds from 2012 to 2017, where he put together a 219-176-22-15 record and won a league championship in his final season.

He would then have a brief stint as an assistant coach for the Anaheim Ducks before spending the last three years as a scout with the New York Rangers.