BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ Slubowski earns team MVP honours

Two seasons ago, Alberni Valley Bulldogs' goaltender Frank Slubowski sat out the entire year following knee surgery. Last year he helped lead the team to the B.C. Hockey League’s Coastal Conference championship, which the Bulldogs lost in seven games to Powell River Kings.

Frank Slubowski’s time with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs hasn’t always been smooth.Two seasons ago Slubowski, a goaltender, sat out the entire year following knee surgery. Last year he helped lead the team to the B.C. Hockey League’s Coastal Conference championship, which the Bulldogs lost in seven games to Powell River Kings.This year, Slubowski played 54 of the team’s regular season games, finishing with a goals-against average of 2.17 and a save percentage of 90.63 per cent. As one of five 20-year-olds on the team, he has also been a leader in the dressing room.For those reasons, Slubowski was named Most Valuable Player and also earned the coach’s choice award at the team’s annual awards brunch on Sunday.“Frank missed a year a couple of years ago but persevered and played it out. It’s exciting to see him get ready for his final playoff run and get ready for (University of) Western Michigan,” head coach and general manager Paul Esdale said.“It’s been an unreal couple of years,” Slubowski told a crowd of volunteers and supporters at the AV Multiplex Sunday afternoon. “It’s all about the journey. Not only did I grow as a hockey player but as a person too. I met some lifelong friends. My billets are always going to be part of my life,” he said.“Although my junior career is going to end, that part of my life won’t.”Kenny Morrison was named rookie of the year.The Bulldogs organization places as much emphasis on academic achievement as it does on-ice performance. The team had 19 players taking college courses and a couple of players in high school at the beginning of the year, educational advisor Tom McEvay said.“If you’re going to play in Alberni, you’re going to get an education,” he said before awarding Oliver McCluskey a trophy for top academic player for the year. Frank Riddle was the runner up.McEvay took a trip earlier this season to East Coast universities where he visited 15 Bulldogs’ alumni, including former coach Nolan Graham.Booster club president Gareth Flostrand was acknowledged for the work she does with the group, which supports the players’ education by raising money to pay for books and tuition as well as the Bulldogs in Schools program.Other award winners were:Most sportsmanlike player — Lars Hepso.Humanitarian award — Oliver McCluskeyMost improved player — Konrad Litke Unsung hero — Kyle WeberEntrepreneur of the year — Trent DoraisCommunity Hero award — Trent DoraisFan choice award — Sawyer MickTop scorer — Josh Mitchell (17 goals, 45 assists for 62 points)Best defenceman — Connor VarleyJersey awards (to the team’s 20-year-olds) — Frank Slubowski, Frank Riddle, Sam Mitchell, Liam Darragh, Kyle WeberAlice Caldwell also presented all the players and coaching staff with scrapbooks she assembled throughout the years as a memento of their time in Port Alberni.editor@albernivalleynews.com

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