Knights’ Marner named CHL’s best player

And he could win a Me­mo­rial Cup tro­phy to­day

SundayXtra - - SPORTS - By Kyle Cicerella

RED DEER, Alta. — Mitch Marner’s dad built him a dis­play case for his ac­com­plish­ments while he was still play­ing mi­nor hockey. His lat­est tro­phy might need its own stand.

The London Knights for­ward was named Cana­dian Hockey League player of the year Satur­day — a tro­phy so big in size that two peo­ple had to carry it for Marner when it was time for him to take pic­tures with it.

“My dad got (a tro­phy case) made when I won my first one, it was spe­cial at that time with lit­tle tro­phies,” said Marner. “It’s spe­cial to be named to this, (but) I don’t know if this one will fit in the tro­phy case.”

The 19-year-old Marner, who the Toronto Maple Leafs se­lected fourth over­all in the 2015 NHL Draft, tore up the On­tario Hockey League this sea­son, and has been pick­ing up awards with ease.

He was named the OHL’s most out­stand­ing player in the reg­u­lar sea­son af­ter pro­duc­ing 39 goals and 116 points in 57 games.

He fol­lowed that up by win­ning the OHL play­off MVP with 44 points in 18 games, lead­ing his Knights to a spot in the 2016 Me­mo­rial Cup.

Marner, from Thorn­hill, Ont., has played the en­tire sea­son on a line with Matthew Tkachuk and Chris­tian Dvo­rak. All three broke the 100-point mark for London, fin­ished 1-2-3 in play­off scor­ing and have been un­stop­pable at the Me­mo­rial Cup. He be­lieves the award wouldn’t be his with­out their help.

“Those two could be on the tro­phy just as much as I can,” said Marner, who has 13 points in three games at the Me­mo­rial Cup — just three off the tour­na­ment record.

Con­nor McDavid earned the award last sea­son.

“There’s a lot of big names on (the tro­phy), but like I said all year it wouldn’t be pos­si­ble with­out the play­ers and the coach­ing staff. With­out those guys on my (line) who knows what would have hap­pened?”

Dvo­rak says play­ing with Marner has made hockey an eas­ier game to play.

“He can do any­thing out there, makes a lot of plays, knows where we are on the ice with­out even look­ing,” said Dvo­rak.

“Awe­some player, not only find­ing peo­ple but be­ing able to bury it too. You can rely on him in all sit­u­a­tions,” added Tkachuk.

Marner beat out Dry­den Hunt of the Moose Jaw War­riors and Fran­cis Per­ron of the Rouyn-No­randa Huskies for the hon­our.

When he called his par­ents to tell them the news, they didn’t know what to say.

“They were speech­less,” said Marner. “They are the rea­son why I am here to­day. It’s crazy what they’ve done for me. I wouldn’t be any­where with­out them.”

The CHL gave out nine other awards Satur­day.

Mis­sis­sauga’s Alex Ny­lan­der won rookie of the year, Everett’s Carter Hart earned goal­tender of the year and Bran­don’s Ivan Provorov took home de­fence­man of the year.

Monc­ton’s Conor Gar­land won the top scorer with 128 points in 62 games, Cape Bre­ton’s Pierre-Luc Dubois earned top NHL draft prospect, sports­man of the year went to Shaw­ini­gan’s Sa­muel Gi­rard, Saginaw’s Will Petschenig won hu­man­i­tar­ian of the year, the scholastic player award was given to Alexis D’Aoust of Shaw­ini­gan and RouynNo­randa’s Gilles Bouchard was named coach of the year.

Marner and his Knights will face Per­ron and the Huskies in the Me­mo­rial Cup final to­day.

His ad­vice to up­com­ing play­ers try­ing to do what he’s done this past sea­son is sim­ple: “Sac­ri­fice, work as hard as you can ev­ery day and just buy into the sys­tem that ev­ery day you are pre­pared.”

DAVE CHIDLEY / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS FILES

Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Mitch Marner leads Me­mo­rial Cup scor­ing with 13 points in three games.

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