North Stars defenceman Kendall Fransoo and goaltender Taryn Kotchorek are on this year’s SJHL awards ballot, as the league released the list of nominees up for five awards this past weekend.
Fransoo is up for defenceman of the year along with Eric Sinclair of Flin Flon, Josh Rieger of Estevan, and Mike Eskra of Weyburn, while Kotchorek is up for goaltender of the year along with Kristian Stead of Nipawin and Colby Entz of Melville.
The ballot for each award has one player per division, although an exception was made for defenceman of the year as both Rieger and Eskra were nominated from the Viterra division.
Fransoo is in his second year as captain and has seen his offensive numbers explode.
The North Battleford native compiled 27 points in 184 career games coming into the year but currently has 33 points in 53 games this season, including 10 goals. Those 33 points have him fifth league-wide among active D-men, while his 10 goals are tied for the third most among active D-men.
Only Sinclair, 16, and Rieger, 13, have more goals from the blue-line this season.
Fransoo also has six power play goals, the second most among active defencemen.
As much as his offensive totals have helped, it’s his defensive play that has always been his bread and butter. After last week’s win over Nipawin when Fransoo had two goals, North Stars head coach Nate Bedford said how under appreciated he is.
“People don't understand how good he is," Bedford said. "He seldom gets beat 1-on-1. Anything you ask him to do, he does. You can yell and scream at him and tell him he's the worst player in the world and he goes back and proves you wrong. Just my type of guy and my type of kid and we're lucky to have him.”
Kotchorek, also a North Battleford native, is putting together one of the most impressive campaigns ever from a wins perspective.
He has a record of 24-3, including a perfect 3-for-3 in shootouts. His save percentage of .930 is third in the league, next to Kristian Stead and teammate Joel Gryzbowski, and his goals-against-average is second at 1.72.
Kotchorek went 15-4 last season with a .920 save percentage but didn’t get to start a playoff game. It’s safe to say that will change this year.
“I guarantee Kotchorek is going to get a playoff game,” Bedford said when asked about his goaltending duo in January. “He’s deserved it. He’s earned it.
“He’s got a handful of losses in two years. His numbers are as good as anybody’s in our league and I owe it to him to give him a game.”
Rieger leads the way with the most nominations at three. In addition to his defenceman of the year nod, he has been nominated for MVP and player of the year.
Rieger is up against Notre Dame’s Ben Duperreault – who leads the league with 75 points at the moment – and Nipawin’s Stead for MVP. Stead has a league-leading .936 save percentage and six shootouts.
The nominees for player of the year are Duperreault, Rieger, and Greyson Reitmeier of Flin Flon.
The rookie of the year nominees are Adam Dawe of Notre Dame, Tyler Heidt of Melfort, and Michael McChesney of Estevan.
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