Jason McKee and Dawson Holt had a history.
McKee, head coach and general manager of the B.C. Hockey League’s Vernon Vipers, had coached in the Western Hockey League with the Vancouver Giants. One of the players he had coached was Holt, who helped the Giants reach Game 7 of the 2019 WHL final before losing in overtime to the hometown Prince Albert Raiders.
He then ended up staying on the Prairies, landing with the Regina Pats for eight games at the start of the 2019-20 season, picking up three assists. McKee, needing a veteran forward, plucked him from the Pats.
“He’s a right-handed forward with a very high hockey IQ,” said McKee at the time of the deal in October 2019, 11 games into the start of the season. “He’s the type of player whose game really ramps up as the season goes along.”
Did it ever.
Holt, a native of Saskatoon, was named the Vipers’ Most Valuable Player for 2019-20 on Sunday, the team’s final year-end award.
Its the final day of the Vipers Awards. Today we award the MVP.
A MVP encompasses a number of elements to any team and this player embodies them all. He played in just 46 games including playoffs, he was a dominant force in every situation. The MVP – Dawson Holt#OneGoal pic.twitter.com/L2j83glOUI
— VernonVipers (@VernonVipers) April 5, 2020
He appeared in 41 regular-season games with the Vipers, finishing tied for second in team scoring with 23 goals and 24 assists. In the post-season, Holt added 2-7-9 in the final three games of the team’s first-round, five-game series win over the Wenatchee Wild, earning the league’s final Subway Player of the Week Award.
The league subsequently canceled its 2020 playoffs due to COVID-19.
“Coming into the Vipers organization, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but from top to bottom it was a class organization and I am so grateful for my time as a Viper,” said Holt on the team’s website. “I can’t thank my teammates, coaches, billets, owners and all the fans for making my last year of junior the best one yet.”
Holt is one of six graduating players on the Vipers.
The MVP capped off the awards which were announced one per day over a two-week period on the team’s Twitter account. Here’s a recap of the winners:
Top Scorer: Matt Kowalski;
Bill Brown Academic Excellence: JoJo Tanaka-Campbell;
Most Sportsmanlike: Connor Sleeth;
Rienie Holland Community Service: Landon Fuller, Connor Marritt;
Wayne Buck Memorial Award: Trey Taylor;
Most Improved Player: Tanaka-Campbell;
Blueliners Academic Scholarship: Fuller;
Unsung Hero: Reilly Herbst, Christian Felton;
Rookie of the Year: Cam MacDonald;
Top Defenceman: Jackson Caller, Taylor;
Duncan Wray Memorial Award: Marritt;
Fan Favourite: Fuller;
MVP: Dawson Holt.