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PHOTOS: Kelowna Rockets dole out awards

Andrew Cristall was named team MVP in a ceremony from the Kelowna Community Theatre on Sunday

The Kelowna Rockets are preparing for a battle with the top ranked Seattle Thunderbirds in the first round of the WHL playoffs.

Before the postseason gets started, the team hosted their annual awards ceremony on Sunday, March 26 from the Kelowna Community Theatre.

With catering from Train Station Pub, attendees were treated to a terrific spread of food.

Team president and GM, Bruce Hamilton thanked the Rockets staff and doctors for keeping the team “ready to go.”

“We should all be excited that we’ve got the opportunity to continue to play,” he said. “I think our brightest days are ahead of us”

Head coach Kris Mallette also spoke, thanking his staff, along with their ‘hero’ bus driver Shane, for “getting us from A to B as safe as possible.”

He also shouted out their social media manager, Paige Bednorz, calling her a special talent and that “in dark times you brought us out and put us on the map more than we already are.”

The three overage players; Talyn Boyko, Adam Kydd and Carson Golder, each said their thanks to fans and coaching staff, before the captain, Gabriel Szturc addressed the audience.

“I really want to thank the billets for helping out this year in Kelowna,” he said. “To my teammates, it’s been a pleasure and I really enjoyed every single day so thank you for that, but job is not done.” He ended his speech with thanking the fans.

The awards winners are listed below:

Scholastic player- Trae Johnson.

Most Improved Player- Jari Kykkanen (14 wins this year, compared to eight a season before).

Top Scorer- Andrew Cristall (39 goals, 56 assists for 95 points in just 54 games).

Unsung Hero- Carson Golder (40 points in 40 games after coming over from the Edmonton Oil Kings).

Top Defensive forward- Gabriel Szturc.

Top defenceman- Caden Price (40 points, 35 assists).

Most sportsmanlike- Adam Kydd (just 37 penalty minutes in 50 games).

Rookie of the Year- Ismail Abougouche (five assists in his rookie year).

Humanitarian Award- Mike Babcock.

MVP- Andrew Cristall (finished sixth in the WHL in scoring).

Abougouche said that it was “unexpected” and “a big honour” to win the rookie of the year award.

“I wasn’t expecting the award, but it was a bonus for all the hard work I put on and off the ice.” While Abougouche will be unable to play in the playoffs due to undergoing surgery, he promised to cheer on his team as loud as possible.

Cristall, the MVP for the Rockets, called getting the award an “honour.”

“It has been a crazy season, but I am looking forward to the playoffs.”

The Rockets playoff series against the Thunderbreds will begin in Seattle on Friday, March 31 for game one, and Saturday for game two.

The series will shift back to Kelowna on Tuesday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 5. You can purchase playoff tickets at

READ MORE: Kelowna Rockets to face familiar foe in first round