Kelowna Rockets forward Nick Merkley is the Western Conference nominee as the WHL's rookie of the year.

Rockets’ Cooke and Merkley WHL award finalists

Jordon Cooke is up for top goaltender, while Merkley is Western Conference's top rookie nominee

  • Thu Mar 20th, 2014 5:00am
  • Sports

In a record-setting season where team accomplishments were front and centre, the Kelowna Rockets also had their share of notable individual performances.

On Thursday in Kelowna, four members of the Rockets were recognized as the WHL announced its Western Conference award nominees and all-star teams.

Goaltender Jordon Cooke was named as a finalist for the WHL’s goaltender of the year award, while Nick Merkley is the Western Conference selection as the league’s rookie of the year.

In addition, Cooke was named a Western Conference first team all-star, while Rockets’ defencemen Damon Severson and Madison Bowey were named to the second all-star team.

“For them personally, I think it’s a great honour that people around our league show respect for what they did over the course of our regular season,” said Rockets’ head coach Ryan Huska. “For us, as a group, whenever you get a player recognized they way they were, I think it’s great four our program that we have a small piece in developing some pretty good hockey players.”

Cooke, 20, who was named the Rockets’ team MVP on Sunday, enjoyed his best WHL season between the pipes for Kelowna, winning a career-high 39 games and posting a 2.28 goals against average. In addition to compiling some impressive statistical numbers, Huska said Cooke was a stabilizing and reliable commodity for the club all season long.

“Whenever we had an important game or something was on the line, Jordon brought his best to the table. When we needed a save, he’d make that save…when we needed a win, he’d get that win. He was our key guy all year and it’s great he’s been recognized by people in our Western Conference, for the work he’s put in over the years.”

Merkley, a product of Calgary, tied a franchise record for goals by a 16-year-old player with 25. His 58 points was third among WHL rookies, but tops among all 1997-born players.

“I think he’s a special young man,” Huska said of Merkley. “We started the year with him on the third, fourth line, he didn’t get much power play time, but he kept pushing us to get more. When we gave him more we saw the special type of player he could be. He’s able to control the game with pace he plays at, but he also sees the ice differently the many players that I’ve been around. He’s going to be a special player and we’re thrilled for him.”

Severson and Bowey were both among the top offensive defencemen in the WHL during the regular season. Severson, 19, had 16 goals and 61 points, while Bowey, 18, scored a club-record 21 times and added 39 assists.

The Rockets (57-11-0-4) were also recognized for the first-place overall finish in 2013-14 and as winners of the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy.

The Rockets and Tri-City Americans open their best-of-seven WHL Western Conference quarterfinal series Saturday night at Prospera Place.

The following is the complete list of WHL award finalists and all-stars:

Award finalists

• WHL Rookie of the Year, Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference – Nikita Scherbak (Moscow, Russia), Saskatoon Blades

Western Conference – Nick Merkley (Calgary, AB), Kelowna Rockets

• WHL Goaltender of the Year, Del Wilson Trophy

Eastern Conference – Tristan Jarry (Delta, BC), Edmonton Oil Kings

Western Conference – Jordon Cooke (Leduc, AB), Kelowna Rockets

• WHL Defenceman of the Year, Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference – Josh Morrissey (Calgary, AB), Prince Albert Raiders

Western Conference – Derrick Pouliot (Weyburn, SK), Portland Winterhawks

• WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year, Brad Hornung Trophy

Eastern Conference – Sam Reinhart (Vancouver, BC), Kootenay Ice

Western Conference – Mitch Holmberg (Sherwood Park, AB), Spokane Chiefs

• WHL Scholastic Player of the Year, Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference – Nelson Nogier (Saskatoon, SK) Saskatoon Blades

Western Conference – Dominic Turgeon (Cherry Hills, CO) Portland Winterhawks

• WHL Coach of the Year, Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference –  Shaun Clouston, Medicine Hat Tigers

Western Conference – Dave Lowry, Victoria Royals

• WHL Executive of the Year, Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference – Mike Moore, Calgary Hitmen

Western Conference – Cam Hope, Victoria Royals

• WHL Humanitarian of the Year, Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy

Eastern Conference – Sam Fioretti (Calgary, AB) Moose Jaw Warriors

Western Conference – Mitch Topping (Red Deer, AB) Tri City Americans

• WHL Marketing / Business Award

Eastern Conference – Regina Pats

Western Conference – Seattle Thunderbirds

• WHL Regular Season Champions, Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy

Kelowna Rockets

• WHL Top Scorer – Bob Clarke Trophy

Mitch Holmberg (Sherwood Park, AB), Spokane Chiefs



1st team

Goaltender – Jordon Cooke (Leduc, AB), Kelowna Rockets

Defenceman – Derrick Pouliot (Weyburn, SK), Portland Winterhawks

Defenceman – Shea Theodore (Aldergrove, BC), Seattle Thunderbirds

Forward – Nicolas Petan (Delta, BC), Portland Winterhawks *

Forward – Mitch Holmberg (Sherwood Park, AB), Spokane Chiefs *

Forward – Oliver Bjorkstrand (Herning, Denmark), Portland Winterhawks

2nd team

Goaltender – Eric Comrie (Edmonton, AB), Tri-City Americans

Defenceman – Damon Severson (Melville, SK), Kelowna Rockets

Defenceman – Madison Bowey (Winnipeg, MB), Kelowna Rockets

Forward – Joshua Winquist (St. Albert, AB), Everett Silvertips

Forward – Todd Fiddler (Meadow Lake, SK), Prince George Cougars

Forward – Mike Aviani (North Vancouver, BC), Spokane Chiefs


1st team

Goaltender – Tristan Jarry (Delta, BC), Edmonton Oil Kings

Defenceman – Josh Morrissey (Calgary, AB), Prince Albert Raiders

Defenceman – Ryan Pulock (Grandview, MB) Brandon Wheat Kings

Forward – Sam Reinhart (Vancouver, BC), Kootenay Ice *

Forward – Leon Draisaitl (Cologne, Germany), Prince Albert Raiders

Forward – Curtis Lazar (Vernon, BC), Edmonton Oil Kings

2nd team

Goaltender – Patrik Bartosak (Koprivnice, CZR), Red Deer Rebels

Defenceman – Griffin Reinhart (West Vancouver, BC), Edmonton Oil Kings

Defenceman – Julius Honka (Jyvaskyla, Finland), Swift Current Broncos

Forward – Curtis Valk (Medicine Hat, AB), Medicine Hat Tigers

Forward – Jaedon Descheneau (Edmonton, AB), Kootenay

Forward – Chandler Stephenson (Saskatoon, SK), Regina