Daily News Sports Editor
An honours student, Colin Smith was honoured to be honoured Wednesday at the WHL awards luncheon in Calgary.
Smith, who just completed his second season with the Kamloops Blazers, was named the WHL’s scholastic player of the year and was presented with the Doc Seaman Memorial Trophy.
“It was a little nerve-wracking, to say the least,” said Smith, who will turn 18 on June 20. “But it was nice.
“Not too many times do we get rewarded for schoolwork — it’s more on ice. It’s always nice to get recognized in other ways.”
Forward Adam Lowry of the Swift Current Broncos was the Eastern Conference nominee.
Smith is scheduled to graduate with honours from Vimy Ridge Academy in his hometown of Edmonton next month. During the season, he attended Valleyview Secondary.
The Blazers now have had three players win the WHL’s scholastic award. Defenceman Scott Niedermayer won it for the 1990-91 season, while goaltender Devan Dubnyk was the winner for 2003-04. Niedermayer and Dubnyk both went on to be named the CHL’s scholastic player of the year.
On the ice, Smith put up 50 points, including 21 goals, as he played in all 72 of the Blazers’ regular-season games. While the Blazers didn’t make the playoffs, Smith went on to play for Canada at the IIHF U-18 world championship in Germany. He had three points, two of them goals, in seven games as Canada finished fourth.
Seeing some of Europe for the first time, he said, “was really good. It was a cool experience.”
On top of that, he felt he played “pretty well.”
“I tried to play a role and thought I did a pretty good job,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result we would have liked. But it was an unbelievable experience otherwise.”
Up next for Smith is the NHL draft.
His play improved markedly in the season’s second half and NHL Central Scouting certainly was paying attention as his ranking went from No. 130 at midseason to 96 in the final seedings.
He wasn’t invited to the NHL scouting combine and won’t be attending the draft in St. Paul, Minn., June 24 and 25.
“I don’t have too many expectations,” he said. “I’m more worried about the work after and next season.”
Smith is the highest-ranked of the three Blazers who showed up on Central Scouting’s list.
Defenceman Tyler Hansen came in at No. 131, while centre Dylan Willick was at No. 164.
WHL award winners, announced Wednesday in Calgary (runner-up in parentheses):
Player of the year — G Darcy Kuemper, Red Deer Rebels (F Tyler Johnson, Spokane Chiefs).
Rookie of the year — D Matt Dumba, Red Deer Rebels (F Sven Bartschi, Portland Winterhawks).
Goaltender of the year — Kuemper (James Reid, Spokane).
Defenceman of the year — Stefan Elliott, Saskatoon Blades (Tyson Barrie, Kelowna Rockets).
Most sportsmanlike player — Johnson (Elliott).
Scholastic player of the year — F Colin Smith, Kamloops Blazers (Adam Lowry, Swift Current Broncos).
Coach of the year — Don Nachbaur, Spokane (Jesse Wallin, Red Deer).
Executive of the year — Lorne Molleken, Saskatoon (Mike Johnston, Portland).
Humanitarian of the year — F Spencer Edwards, Moose Jaw Warriors (D Jeff Einhorn, Chilliwack Bruins).
Marketing/Communications award — Mike Moore, Calgary Hitmen (Brian Sandy, Tri-City Americans).
As well, the Swift Current Broncos were named the scholastic team of the year, while Matt Kirk was saluted as the league’s top referee. . . . Nachbaur has won the coach-of-the year award three times and has been with a different team on each occasion. . . . Only Pat Ginnell, who was named top coach on four occasions, has won the award more than Nachbaur. . . . This is the ninth straight season in which an Eastern Conference player has been honoured as the WHL’s player of the year. The last Western Conference player to take the honour? D Dan Hamhuis of the Prince George Cougars in 2001-02.
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