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Pirates honour top performers

Top row from left: Abbott Girduckis, Ryan Sizer, Brandon Peever, Matt Kaludis Bottom row from left: Mitch Rosborough, Tyler Kearns, Evan Greer, Steve Csanyi, Pat Millington

While it wasn’t the championship they had planned on attaining when they broke training camp last fall, the Picton Pirates toasted an Empire B Jr.C regular season crown and honoured top performers in 2011-12 season.

At its annual awards banquet at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Belleville, Saturday night, the local Jr. C squad toasted not only the players but the sponsors, support staff, officers, volunteers and fans that helped make the Pirates record-setting regular season one to remember.

“We could not allow the 2011-2012 season to come to an end without recognizing your outstanding efforts. The simple truth is, it would not have happened without you,” Pirates coach and GM Ryan Woodward told club supporters Saturday. “Volunteers, sponsors, executive members, parents and fans are changing the Junior experience in Picton. Our success is a direct result of the time, energy and commitment of people like you.”

After shocking the then-defending champion Napanee Raiders in the 2011 playoffs and winning the Empire crown, the Pirates returned to the ice this fall with some swagger and some added pressure to maintain their level of play night in and night out.

“This year the boys came into the regular season as defending Empire B Champions and with that title comes a responsibility to perform at your very best every single day. We had targets on our backs from day one. We often faced our opponents’ very best effort throughout the season and our players responded to that challenge by finishing in first place and winning the Empire B Regular Season Championship,” Woodward said. “Parity in our league has never been better. There is never a night off and every team is capable to coming into your rink and stealing 2 points. As a result of their hard work and commitment, this group of young men set a new single season franchise record for wins in a season with 27.”

In the 2012 playoffs, the club swept past the Port Hope Panthers to make the Empire B Finals for the second year in a row but bowed out to the Campbellford Rebels in five games.

“We may not have reached our ultimate goal and defended the League Championship this year but I am proud of the way this team came together as a group. This group of young men made coming to the rink every day exciting and they were a pleasure to work with.”

Those recognized for their season on Saturday night included captain Mitch Rosborough.

The Sophiasburgh native won the Bobby Hull Award as the club’s leading point getter (36 games, 30 goals + 22 assists= 52 points) as well as the Lionel F. Hicks Memorial Award as MVP.

The forward also took home a share of the Matt Stever Memorial Best Defensive Forward award.

“Mitch is our leader both on and off the ice. He had a career year statistically sand he passed the 100 point plateau this season,“ Woodward said.

Rosborough was also named the Empire B Player of the Month in November and finished 3rd in league scoring.

Third year Pirate Brandon Peever was awarded the Andy Cronkwright Memorial award as the team’s top defenceman.

The Bloomfield native had a career high in points with six goals and 22 assists this season.

“Brandon is a player that has a team first attitude and always gives us 100 per cent. He is well known for his competitiveness and ability to play against the opposition’s top players,” Woodward added.

Fellow third year Pirate Ryan Sizer took home the Bill Strachan Memorial Award for most sportsmanlike player.

Suiting up for all 40 Pirate regular season games, the Belleville native matched his career high in points with 47 in 2011-12 and only took 24 minutes in penalties.

In fact, in his career that spans 115 Junior C hockey games, Sizer has been whistled for just 20 minor penalties.

“Ryan has been a valuable member of our team for three seasons,” Woodward said of the Loyalist College student. “He is extremely talented and exemplifies true sportsmanship on and off of the ice. He eclipsed the 100 point plateau for his career this year with a 47 point campaign.”

Rookie sensation Abbot Girduckis capped of his week which included signing on with the Jr. A Wellington Dukes by winning a pair of awards, the Walter Norton Memorial Rookie of the Year award and the Matt Stever Memorial Best Defensive Forward Award.

Also the Empire B Rookie of the Year in 2011-12, the sky seems to be the limit for the Stirling resident.

“Abbott led all 16-year-old players Jr. C in scoring across the Ontario with 25 goals and 23 assists for 48 points and finished the season sixth in Empire League Scoring. Nothing was handed to him, his hard work allowed him to step into our experienced line-up and earn a significant role in all aspects of the game,” said Woodward.

At the other end of the spectrum in terms of age was the club’s lone graduating player Pat Millington.

A Pirate for the past two season, Millington provided leadership and skill this year and was honoured with the Wayne Lindsay Memorial Award as the club’s most improved player.

Millington was a better than point per game player in his final season of junior hockey, potting 39 points (16 goals + 23 assists) in just 33 games.

“Pat became a vital member and played a significant role on our hockey club. I am sure there are many opposing defencemen and goaltenders that are happy to know they won’t have to absorb his body checks on the forecheck or his presence around the net,” Woodward commented.

Trenton native and 2011 Empire Playoff MVP Matt Kaludis was the teams top netminder in 2011-12, winning the Tom O’Hallaran Award.

“Matt lead all Empire B goaltenders statistically from start to finish this season and finished with sparkling numbers, leading the league in every category including wins (20), shutouts (2), G.A.A. (2.70) and save percentage (.932),” said Woodward. “He has been our backbone between the pipes the past two season and really taken on a leadership role inside the dressing room.”

Veteran defenceman Steve Csanyi was the club’s Ivan Stringer Memorial Award winner, recognizing commitment and dedication.

The Belleville native played with a significant knee injury all season long that was finally surgically repaired last month.

“Steve ignored his own personal health this entire season and most people have no idea how significant his knee injury really was. He basically played all season with a shredded MCL ligament and torn cartilage,” Woodward explained. “Not once did he complain that he was hurt or use his knee as an excuse, he showed up every single day and laid his body on the line for his teammates and my staff. I have a lot of respect for Steve and his parents should be very proud of him.”

Finally, the club announced the winners the BJ Munro Memorial Award for Playoff MVP and the award was shared by forwards Tyler Kearns and Evan Greer.

“These two players saved their best hockey for the most important time of the year. They were incredible leaders this year in the playoffs, they play the game with emotion and scored important goals time and time again. I believe that adversity can reveal a person’s true character. Both of these players answered the bell when we needed them the most in playoffs,” Woodward said.

With the 2011-12 season firmly in their wake, the Pirates will start to prepare for the upcoming season by hosting a spring mini camp May 12th & 13th at Essroc Arena in Wellington.

Filed Under: Local NewsSports & Recreation

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