Trio of Raiders forwards honoured in year-end awards

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Spencer Moe fist bumps with his Prince Albert Raiders teammates after a goal against the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Spencer Moe, Reece Vitelli and Brayden Watts were the latest recipients of the Prince Albert Raiders’ 2019-20 year-end awards on Friday.

Moe was named as this year’s winner of the Ches Leach Award as the Most Improved Player, while Vitelli and Watts shared the Best Defensive Forward award.

In his fourth season with the Raiders, Moe posted his best numbers to date as he scored 19 goals and had 32 assists to post a career high 51 points in 64 games.

“A big thing for me in the off-season was knowing that I would have a bigger role on the team this year,” Moe said in a video that was posted on the Raiders website. “It was a goal that I was striving for and wanted.

“During the season, I always wanted to take things day-by-day and work on something in my game. I want to say thanks to the coaches and my teammates for helping me win this award.”

While Moe is a familiar face at the Art Hauser Centre, Vitelli and Watts both arrived in Prince Albert after early season trades.

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Prince Albert Raiders forward Brayden Watts skates away from Moose Jaw Warriors blueliner Chase Hartje last month.

Watts was acquired in late September from the Vancouver Giants and Vitelli came over from the Everett Silvertips on Thanksgiving weekend in exchange for Montreal Canadiens draft pick Cole Fonstad.

Both players made an impact all over the ice this season, as Watts posted a career best plus-30 rating in his overage campaign and Vitelli won 53 percent of his faceoffs.

“I’m really honoured to receive this award, alongside my teammate Reece,” Watts said. “It’s a huge honour to know that our coaching staff and our teammates trust in every situation of the game as having a good 200-foot game is a huge part of being a hockey player.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Reece Vitelli battles for position with Kamloops Blazers forward Connor Zary during a December home game.

“It’s truly an honour to be acknowledged with this award since we had so many guys that were capable of winning it,” Vitelli added. “Brayden’s such an unbelievable player and truly demonstrates what a 200-foot player looks like. He can block shots, kill penalties and then score a really big goal for us.”

Watts finished third in team scoring this year with a career-high 61 points in 61 games, while Vitelli had 20 points in 55 games for the Raiders after starting the season with three assists in eight games in Everett.

The Raiders will announce two more year-end award winners on Saturday before rounding their 2019-20 accolades on Monday.

In between those announcements, the team will be posting messages on their social media pages on Sunday from graduating players Zack Hayes, Jeremy Masella and Watts.