On more than a few nights during the 2013-14 regular season, Jordon Cooke was the difference between winning and losing for the Kelowna Rockets.
Suffice it to say, the veteran stopper was also instrumental in the WHL club’s record-setting campaign, which included 57 wins, 118 points and the league’s overall title.
On Sunday, Kelowna formally acknowledged the 20-year-old goaltender’s value by naming the Leduc, Alta. native as the club’s MVP at the Rockets’ annual banquet.
Cooke, who won a career-high 39 games and posted a 2.28 goals against average, was honoured by the individual award but credited the rest of his team for a stellar regular season.
“Considering the team we have, on any given night there was always that guy that stood out,” said Cooke. “To win an award like this in an organization like this, with all the players that have won it before, it’s tremendous honour. But I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates.”
Cooke also picked up the Hamilton family humanitarian award.
Second-year centre Rourke Chartier was a big winner Sunday, taking home three awards—most sportsmanlike, top defensive forward and the scholastic award.
The 17-year-old Saskatoon product, who registered 24 goals and 58 points during the regular season, took time to savour the moment, but said the team has more important goals ahead.
“It’s a special time of the year, especially with playoffs coming, it’s nice to have a day to celebrate our accomplishments over the year,” Chartier said. “It’s a team sport though, so I don’t try to look too much into these awards. We just want to be winners come early summer time, we want to be the last one’s standing. I think we all need to take our game to the next level here.”
The other award winners were:
• Top defenceman—Damon Severson
Severson, 19, who won the award for the second year in a row, scored 16 goals and added 45 assists for 61 points.
• Rookie of the year—Nick Merkley. The Calgary native tied a team record for goals by a 16-year-old player with 25.
• Plus-minus and unsung hero—Cole Martin. Martin led the WHL in plus-minus rating at +61.
• Most improved—Jackson Whistle. The 18-year-old netminder posted an 18-4-0-0 record and 91.7 save percentage.
• Top scorer—Myles Bell. The 20-year-old Calgary product led the Rockets in goals (42) and points (77).
The Rockets open the WHL playoffs Saturday night at home to the Tri-City Americans.