Grande Prairie Athletics forward Dennis Rix (shown here) picked up the team MVP Award at the year-end banquet on Saturday night. Rix had potted 17 goals during the regular season and added eight goals in the post season as the A’s won the North Peace Hockey League championship in a six-game win over the Dawson Creek Canucks.
The Grande Prairie Athletics officially finished up the North Peace Hockey League (NPHL) season, hosting their awards banquet at the Coca-Cola Centre on Saturday night.The Athletics went 12-5 in the playoffs and capped off the post season with a league championship after a six-game series win over the Dawson Creek Canucks.“You couldn’t have written a better book or put out a better movie for the way it worked out,” A’s General Manager Maurice Trudeau said. “What a book. What movie. What a story.”Dennis Rix picked up the Most Valuable Player award after a strong regular season where Rix scored 17 goals and assisted on 19 others. The former Grande Prairie Storm assistant coach was first in playoff goals scored with a eight in 17 games. Rix also played NCAA Division I hockey with the Michigan Tech Huskies.“[Rix is] a player that has great offensive abilities and plays a 200-foot game, as well,” Athletics Head Coach Wayne Labrie said. “He ‘s played a lot of good hockey and he brings a lot to our team, not only offensively, but he’s a good leader as well.”Labrie did note it’s difficult to pick one player on a team of champions.“When you’re dealing with individuals and awards—and when you’ve just finished winning a championship—it’s tough to recognize individual players in a team sport,” Labrie said. “Without him, it probably would have been tough to do what we did. There were some other guys deserving as well but you can’t select five or six guys.”The Newcomer of the Year award went to Braden Crone; Most Dedicated Player was split between Andrew Buote and Parker Sharp; the Ultimate Athletic Award was Buote; Executive Appreciation Award went to defenseman Tyrell Mason; the Unsung Hero Award winner was Blake Clement and the Outstanding Defenseman of the Year was split between Mason and Alex Curran.A massive addIn the post-game glow of the championship win back in March, Labrie noted the acquisition of Curran was a massive add in winning an NPHL trophy and he doubled down on that statement.“It was a position we had to get better at and when we added Curran, I believe, it put us over the top,” Labrie said. “He’s another individual who brings a lot of offensive ability, who played in the [American Hockey League]. Curran is an all around good player and good guy.” Curran played three professional season, with the majority of his pro career spent with the Texas Brahmas of the Central Hockey League. Curran also played with the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL.“Curran won five NPHL championships [with the Spirit River Rangers] and he’s the type of defenceman you hate to play against because he’s so damn good,”Trudeau added. “He’s a great puck carrier with an incredible shot.”The A’s picked up Curran from the Innisfail Eagles of the Allan Cup West Hockey League just before the Jan. 10 trade deadline and it couldn’t have pleased Trudeau more.“We knew he was out there and he wasn’t playing and we made some contacts with him,” Trudeau said, while noting A’s Vice President Josh Purchase did a lot of the phone work. “It was getting close to the deadline [in January] and it took a phone call and a chat to say ‘hey, we’d love to have you Alex’ and it kind of happened. I couldn’t believe it. He called me one day and said ‘let’s sit down and have a talk and make it happen.’ I was very excited about it.”Buying InThe general manager noted the commitment from the players on the roster was the biggest reason why the club picked up the NPHL trophy. In past years that hasn’t been the case.“I know Labrie was concerned about [the commitment levels] in the beginning,” Trudeau said. “We all talked about it. It was a concern. We would jump on a bus and go to a game and we’ve have 18-20 guys, where in previous years we’d have 12 to 14 guys. Halfway through [the season] there was great commitment and towards the end of the season everybody was there all the time.”