South Peace News
Two members of the High Prairie Red Wings junior hockey team won top awards from the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League.
Keygon Okemow won the Best Goaltender Award in the West Division as the GMHL announced its awards for each division March 7.
Head coach Trent Meyaard won the Best Coach Award in his first year with the Red Wings.
Playing in his final year of eligibility in the GMHL, Okemow says he was surprised.
“I am grateful and honoured to win the award,” says Okemow.
“I’ve been determined all season to work hard.”
Okemow recorded a team high 18 wins, along with no losses, a 2.02 goals against average and one shutout.
Okemow was also the first runner-up for the Most Valuable Player in the West Division.
“Teammates look up to me as a leader,” says Okemow, playing in his first season in goal for the Red Wings after joining the team as a skater last year.
“Having players look up to me is very honourable.”
He played in goal for the Enoch Northern Alberta Tomahawks in the 2019-20, the first season of the West Division.
“What builds me into a strong goalie is growing up playing hockey with players who were older than I was,” Okemow says.
Looking ahead, he plans to reach the next level.
“I’m striving towards playing hockey and going to college,” Okemow says.
“I will pursue a hockey career while attending college.”
The head coach says Okemow has earned the honour.
“He deserves the award as he has been rock solid all year, not just on the ice but off the ice,” Meyaard says.
“Keegan has had an exceptional year.
“He has made many game-saving saves through ut the season.”
Meyaard says Oke- mow has been unbeatable in many key situations, including breakaways and shootouts.
Behind the bench, Meyaard led the team to a regular season record of 40-1 for 80 points and first place in the West Division as the Red Wings opened the season on a 36-game winning streak.
As head coach, he says the award is more than himself.
“I’m humbled to be awarded this award,” Meyaard says.
“It’s not just what I’ve done, it’s what the players have done also and the other coaching staff.
“It’s a collective effort for this award.”
Three more Red Wings were finalists for other player awards.
Theo Cunningham was the first runner-up for the Best Forward Award, Kaden Desjarlais was the first runner-up for the Best Defenceman Award; and Gabe Blais was the second runner-up for the Best Defensive Forward Award.
In the eyes of the coach, the Red Wings deserved more award winners than the results show.
“Any of the runners-up could have been first on any given day,” Meyaard says.
“It was very strong competition and all the players should be proud for being nominated.”
Voting was decided by coaches and management of the teams in the division.
“I felt some of our players were left off,” Meyaard says.
He was surprised that Avery McNabb was not nominated after playing every game and not recording one penalty.