Medicine Hat, AB — With today’s announcement of the 2020-2021 Team MVP award winners the Medicine Hat Tigers have officially concluded the 2020-2021 WHL Season.
A Different Look
While this season was unlike any other in the history of the Western Hockey League due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were familiar rivalries renewed as the Medicine Hat Tigers embarked on a 23 game schedule that featured all interdivision play. Without the prospect of playoffs or Memorial Cup to compete for, as well as the logistics of bringing in foreign born players, most teams opted to treat the season as a year of development. The Medicine Hat Tigers would feature 15 different rookies throughout the campaign.
The Tigers finished the 2020-2021 WHL campaign with a record of 14-8-0-1 which put them in 2nd place in the Central Division, trailing the first place Edmonton Oil Kings. The Tigers battled the Oil Kings very hard all season long, but they were the only team the Tabbies weren’t able to claim two points from.
Leading the way offensively for the Tigers was the three overage players. Alternate Captain Brett Kemp captured the team’s scoring crown with 31 points (12G, 19A) while fellow Alternate Captain Cole Clayton finished only one point behind with 30 points (9G, 21A). Captain Ryan Chyzowski rounded out the top three in scoring finishing the campaign with 29 points (11G, 18A).
Between the Pipes
After an excellent rookie campaign the year before, Grande Prairie, AB product Garin Bjorklund became the full time starter for the Tigers this season. Bjorklund finished the season having appeared in 18 games for the Orange and Black with a record of 10-7-0-1 and a Goals Against Average of 2.6 as well as a .921 SV% which was tied for 3rd best in the Western Hockey League.
Rookie netminder Beckett Langkow became Garin’s understudy this season appearing in five contests. The 6 foot tall Langkow played five games for the Tigers, finishing the season with a 4-1-0-0 record to go along with 3.35 GAA and a .903 SV%.
While the season didn’t have the same feel as others these three might have played in the Western Hockey League, this might be the one they are the most grateful for. In a year full of uncertainty the WHL thanks to the diligence of team owners, league governors and provincial health authorities, the season was able to get started in February, giving 2000 born players Ryan Chyzowski, Cole Clayton and Brett Kemp one last chance to showcase their talents and continue to chase their hockey dreams.
Captain Ryan Chyzowski, a career Tiger appeared in 280 career games for the Bengals over six seasons, which puts him 18th place all time in games played for the Tigers. Chyzowksi finished his WHL career with 217 points (98 goals, 119 assists) to go along with 109 penalty minutes.
Alternate Captain Cole Clayton was also a career Tigers, having suited up for 214 games for the Orange and Black over the course of five Western Hockey League Seasons. The Strathmore, AB native finished his career with 88 points (17 goals, 71 assists) and 129 penalty minutes. Clayton was also named to the Central Division All Star Team for the 2020-2021 season.
Alternate Captain Brett Kemp didn’t start his career as a Tiger, but the highly skilled winger from Yorkton ,Saskatchewan showed he had exactly what it takes to wear the Tigers jersey, but also to take his game to next level. Kemp finishes his Western Hockey League career having played in 255 career games between the Everett Silvertips, Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers. He registered 218 points (96 goals, 122 assists) and 131 penalty minutes. Kemp was also named to the Central Division All Star Team for the 2020-2021 season.
During the course of the 2020-2021 campaign the Medicine Hat Tigers dressed 15 rookies, including seven 16 year old’s and two 15 year old players. Among those players were two players selected in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft, five that were selected by the Tigers in 2019.
2020-2021 Team Awards
Because of the restrictions in place for the global pandemic, the Medicine Hat Tigers announced their award winners online this season.
The Medicine Hat Tigers would light the lamp 87 times in 23 games this season, which put them in a tie for the 7th most in the Western Hockey League. Four players would reach double digits in the pandemic shortened season, but one would out pace the rest.
4th year Tiger Corson Hopwo finished the short season with 14 goals, only 1 off of his career high, but he accomplished the feat in 39 fewer games. Corson finished the season in a 3 way tie for 10th place league wide in goals scored, but the Tigers played one less game this season than his competition. Had this been a regular season the winger from Duncan, BC would have been on pace to score 40 plus goals.
Hops not only scored more goals than anyone else on the team, he also stepped up when his team needed him the most, registering a team high 4 game winning goals.
The 2020/2021 Most Goals trophy goes to…Corson Hopwo.
The 2020/2021 edition of the Medicine Hat Tigers saw a few familiar faces return for the season, looking to build off successful campaigns from the year before and to try and impress teams at the next level, continuing to chase their hockey dreams. Leading the way for the Bengals was the highly skilled, dynamic forward from Yorkton, Saskatchewan Brett Kemp.
Kemp showed his skill set and work ethic off on a nightly basis, including his blazing speed, sniper like shot and his ability to create space and set up teammates. Kemper registered 12 goals and 19 assists for the orange and black while appearing in all 23 games.
The 2020/2021 Leading Scorer…Brett Kemp.
Three Stars Award
The Three Stars are awarded after each game to the players that are considered to have been the most impactful on the ice from that night’s contest. This year’s award winner is certainly no exception.
While he didn’t start his career as a Tiger, Yorkton, Saskatchewan product Brett Kemp personified what it means to wear the Orange and Black. Brett worked tirelessly night in and night out registering at least a point in 17 of the teams 23 games this season. Kemp finished 1st in team scoring and tied for 11th in league scoring.
Kemp’s name would appear as a three star 8 times this season. The 2020/2021 Three Stars award recipient is Brett Kemp.
Scholastic Player of the Year
A hectic WHL schedule…dozens of practices, workouts and video sessions with coaches, to go along with rigors of navigating a global pandemic. Add in the pressures of excelling in school as well as being a teenager and you’ve got a most unusual season in the Western Hockey League.
Chasing your hockey dreams and taking your scholastic studies seriously is no easy accomplishment, but this sophomore Tiger did exactly that this season.
Calgary, Alberta product Dru Krebs put equal emphasis on hitting the books as well as succeeding and improving on the ice.
The 2020-2021 Scholastic Players of the Year… Dru Krebs.
Community Service Award
The Medicine Hat Tigers take pride in being involved with our community as much as possible during the course of the season, of course this year was completely different with the restrictions in place due to a global pandemic.
Genuinely concerned about the impact of not having a teddy bear toss game and being able to hand out teddy bears and items to those in need over the holiday season, Medicine Hat Tigers forward Corson Hopwo rose to the occasion and spearheaded a wonderful initiative.
Led by Hopwo, Members of the Tigers got together virtually and donated over $650 of their own money, right before Christmas to help those less fortunate in our community. With those funds we were able to purchase gifts for numerous children and seniors as well as make a generous donation of toys and games to Santa Claus Fund.
The winner of the 2020/2021 community service award, Corson Hopwo.
Unsung Hero Award
The Unsung hero award is normally given to a player whose skills and contributions on the ice often go unnoticed to casual fans, or to those outside of the team. Well this is certainly the case when it comes to this year’s co-winners, both of these members of the Tigers squad did anything and everything they could to help the Tigers earn a victory on the ice.
The pride of Grande Prairie, AB, Garin Bjorklund was tabbed as the Tigers Number 1 netminder and would get the lions share of the work, during the shortened, but intense 2020-2021 campaign. Bjorklund would start 18 of the Tigers 23 games during the unusual season and set new career highs in Goals against Average with a 2.6 and 921 save percentage. The sophomore netminder also recorded his 2nd career shutout.
Lukas Svejkovsky, who hails from Point Roberts, Washington produced at more than a point per game during the season, notching 12 goals and 10 assists in 20 games, including two game winning goals.
Bjorklund and Svejkovsky’s dedication to getting better every day and their commitment to their team first attitude is unparalleled and definitely doesn’t go unnoticed.
This year’s co-winners of the Unsung Hero Award, Garin Bjorklund and Lukas Svejkovsky.
Gerard Moyer Leadership Award – Presented by Lanny McDonald
Ryan Chyzowski was unanimously selected to be the Tigers Captain by his teammates and coaches, something that speaks volumes about this young man entering his fifth and final full season with the Tabbies. Chyzowski has had some great mentors along the way, but he has always displayed the work ethic and determination that it takes to lead the orange and black.
Leading the Tigers attack, Chyzowski would get better and better with each passing season of his career in the Western League. While the shortened season would prevent the sniper from smashing career records, the Kamloops, BC native was able register 11 goals and 18 assists in only 23 games, averaging 1.26 points per game, which is a career high.
Whether it was going head to head against the best defencemen the league has to offer, standing up for his team mates or blocking shots…night in and night out Ryan would do whatever was necessary to help his team earn a victory.
Ryan has always led by example and is wholly deserving of the Gerard Moyer Team Leadership award, presented by Lanny McDonald.
Your 2020/21 Tigers Captain, Ryan Chyzowski.
Hardest Working Player
You could see each and every night why this year’s hardest working player award is going to two very worthy recipients in Tigers Captain Ryan Cyzowski and Shellbrook, Saskatchewan native Ashton Ferster.
Chyzowski’s work ethic and determination was obvious in every shift he payed. Whether it was hustling to get back to the defensive zone, putting pressure on the forecheck or quarterbacking the powerplay. Chyzowksi was called on to eat up some big minutes and go head to head with the best defenders the Central Division has to offer.
The Tigers captain would finish the campaign in the top 5 of almost every statistical category on the team and at one point would carry an 11 game point streak and he registered at least a point in 17 of the team’s 23 games.
An offseason of hard work paid off for the towering Ashton Ferster, as the 6’4 winger impressed his coaches and teammates with his work ethic both in practice and off the ice. While Ferster didn’t register any points this season he certainly had chances, and the future is very bright for this young man.
The winner of the 2020/2021 Hardest Working Player Award goes to Ryan Chyzowski and Ashton Ferster.
Rookie of the Year
While this season was different than any other in the history of the Western Hockey League, one of the most exciting aspects for fans of teams in the WHL is the influx of young talented players each season. Because of the COVID landscape this season became a year of development and saw an unprecedented number of rookies play league wide. The Tigers featured 15 rookies throughout the season, although one rose to the top.
Oren Shtrom, a product of Gilbert, Arizona by way of Montreal, Quebec, was drafted by the Tigers 57th overall in the 3rd round of the 2019 WHL Draft.
The dynamic forward showed his great vision and a knack for creating space all season long, leading the team in rookie scoring and finishing 6th in team scoring. Shtrom finished the season with 5 goals, 9 assists for a combined 14 points. He also finished the campaign a plus 8, which was second best on the team.
The winner of the 2020/2021 Top Rookie award, Oren Shtrom.
Most Improved Player
It’s not how you start that’s important, it’s how you finish. Just like a team finding it’s identity, often the evolution of a player builds throughout a season, and even though this was an unusual season, such is the case with this year’s winners.
In his third full season as a Tiger, Eric Van Impe took major steps toward becoming a true premier defender in the Western Hockey League. Not only did Imper make gains in his offensive numbers tying his career high in goals in 41 fewer games, he was also tabbed to be the key guy on the backend in some of the seasons biggest moments, and against some of the league’s top offensive weapons.
The 2020/2021 Most Improved Player, Eric Van Impe.
Top Defensive Forward
Contributions that forwards make on the defensive side of the puck can be the difference between coming away with 2 points or none. Corson Hopwo’s commitment to the defensive side of the puck, once again made him a thorn in the side of opposing teams all season long.
Corson’s willingness to back check, lay his body on line blocking shots, or taking the body to the opposing teams’ players are some of the traits that make him an extremely valuable asset to the Bengals.
It takes a certain mindset to sacrifice offence numbers, for the ones that ones that become notches in the win column, but that’s exactly what you get from number 16, and you get an idea of why Corson is held in such high regard by his coaches.
Not only was Hopwo a rock away from the puck this season, he led the Tigers in goals, notching 14 goals in only 23 games, including his first career hat trick in a memorable come from behind win.
The 2020/2021 Medicine Hat Tigers Top Defensive Forward…Corson Hopwo
Cliff Bast Memorial Best Defenceman Award
This season, the Tigers defensive core was a mix of veteran leadership and young and upcoming talent.
Cole Clayton returned to the Tabbies for his fourth and final season in the Western Hockey League. Looking to build off a career year from the season before, the pride of Strathmore, AB proved to be a true #1 D-Man in the western league, being a steady force on the back end blocking shots, shutting down passing lanes and doing whatever was needed to help his team earn a victory.
Coming into his overage season Clayton had scored 8 goals in first 191 games of his career. The steady d-man notched 9 goals this season in only 23 games, including his first career hat trick, while adding 21 assists, tying his career high of 30 points, but accomplishing it in 40 fewer games.
Clayton entered his fourth full season in the Western Hockey League with some big shoes to fill and some lofty expectations for himself. The Strathmore Alberta native was a rock on the back end for the orange and black this season, blocking shots and shutting down the leagues best players.
This year’s winner of The Cliff Bast Memorial Best Defenceman award, Cole Clayton.
Most Valuable Player
This was a most unusual season for the Medicine Hat Tigers, but just like any other season in the Western Hockey League there would trials and tribulations throughout the campaign.
In a world of uncertainty, the one thing you could count on was that our co-winners of this year’s MVP award would bring their best every single night and give the team a chance to win.
Tigers Captain Ryan Chyzowski as well as alternate captains Cole Clayton and Brett Kemp would be called upon night in and night out to go up against the best players the WHL’s Central division had to offer, while helping mentor a group of players that included 15 rookies throughout the course of the season.
These three players were the top three point getters on the Tigers roster this season, with only 2 points separating them from top to bottom. Brett Kemp led the way offensively notching 12 Goals, 19 Assists for 31 points, while defencemen Cole Clayton finished the season with 9 goals and 21 assists good enough for 30 points, which also put the Overage D-man 1st in scoring by a defenceman in the league. Captain Ryan Chyzowski wrapped the campaign up with 29 points which included 11 goals and 18 assists.
This dynamic trio would also be a huge part of the teams powerplay, which was tops in the Western League at 37%. They combined their efforts for a total of 15 goals and 34 assists while on the man advantage.
The winners of the 2020/2021 Medicine Hat Tigers Most Valuable Player Award…Ryan Chyzowski, Cole Clayton and Brett Kemp.
The Medicine Hat Tigers would like to thank all of our fans and partners for their unwavering support over what will surely go down as one of the most unusual years in our planets history.
We look forward to welcoming you back to Co-op Place in the fall!