TORONTO – The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced Friday the names of the five individuals who have been named finalists for its Top Defenceman Award as part of competition during the course of the 2022-23 campaign.
Each of the finalists were determined through a voting process completed by the CJHL’s nine-member leagues, for their respective efforts during the course of the regular season.
The following are the five nominees for CJHL Top Defenceman honours in 2022-23, which are listed alphabetically, by league:
Caleb MacDonald, Whitecourt Wolverines (AJHL): MacDonald was the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Outstanding Defenceman and recipient of the W.G. (Bill) Scott Memorial Trophy. … The award recognizes the defensive player who demonstrates the greatest all-round ability in the position throughout the season. … MacDonald (2002) leads the Wolverines this season as both an alternate captain on the leadership group and in points (57). … The third-year Wolverine is second in scoring among AJHL defencemen with an average of 1.0 points per game (7G, 50A). … MacDonald (Cambridge, Ont.) was also nominated as a finalist for AJHL MVP and has committed to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks (NCAA) for 2023-24.
With files from Charla Flett, Executive Director (AJHL)
Trent Sambrook, Winkler Flyers (MJHL): The 2002-born Sambrook was fresh off of completing in his fourth season in the MJHL and is committed to play NCAA Division 1 hockey for the Mercyhurst University Lakers next season. … In 2022-23, Sambrook received the Brian Kozak Award as the MJHL’s Top Defenceman and was also named a First Team MJHL All-Star. … In 56 games, the Medora, Man., product scored 11 goals and 41 assists to sit fourth amongst defenders in scoring. … Sambrook was also named as an MJHL star of the week and MJHL star of the month this season and was named to both the MJHL Top Prospects Showcase in November and was selected to play for Team MJHL at the MJHL-SJHL Showcase in January.
With files from Eric Swar, Director, Marketing & Partnerships (MJHL)
Ed McNeill, Summerside Western Capitals (MHL): The 2002-born blueliner from Summerside, P.E.I., finished seventh in league scoring with sixteen goals and 61 assists and was second on the Western Capitals in scoring. … McNeill was tied with teammate Isaac Wilson in goals among defensemen and was tied with Miramichi’s Daryk Dube-Plouffe for the overall league lead in assists. … He had the second-most power play points in the league with 44, trailing only the 48 from teammate Trentyn Crane. … McNeill was named Top Defencemen in September and December, with an Honourable Mention in January. … He was named to the Eastlink North Team of the Week nine times. …. His 77 points this season more than doubled his career point total, finishing with 146 points in 166 games across five seasons in the MHL. … McNeill will continue his career and further his education in the fall at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., and compete in OUA/USPORTS with the Thunderwolves’ men’s hockey program.
With files from James Faulkner, Director of Communications (MHL)
Alex Little, Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL): The 2003-born, smooth-skating blueliner, topped all league defensemen in goals with 21 and point-per-game average at 1.07. … The Powassan team captain also finished second in points among rearguards with 58, in 54 games played, marking a 30-point improvement over last season, while establishing personal single-season bests in goals, assists and points. … His efforts also saw him named the NOJHL’s top defenceman this season and was also selected a 1st Team NOJHL All-Star on defence. … Hailing from Minden, Ont., Little has appeared in 104 NOJHL contests while scoring 30 times and setting up 56 others for 86 points.
With files from Scott Marshall, Statistician (NOJHL)
Cooper Bertrand, Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL): Bertrand led all defencemen in the 21-team OJHL with 63 points in 53 regular season games during the 2022-23 season. He also helped lead his team to their second straight Brant Snow Memorial Trophy, emblematic of regular season supremacy. The 21-year-old from Caledon was named the OJHL Warrior South-East Conference Player-of-the-Month for December. The defenceman tallied 12 points during six games. His five goals included one on the power play and the game-winner in the Canadiens’ 3-2 victory over Georgetown Dec. 18.
With files from Jim Mason, Director of Communications (OJHL)
Earning Honourable Mention recognition for the CJHL top defenceman honours were:
Brandon Walker, Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL); Zachary Racicot, Collège Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ); Tynan Ewert, Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) and Jack Cook, Kam River Fighting Walleye (SIJHL).
Photo credit: Michael Hall