Corbin Cockerill of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats, Tyson Lautard of the Nelson Leafs, Reid Stumpf of the 100 Mile House Wranglers and Matthew Johnston of the North Okanagan Knights received the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Most Sportsmanlike Player award for their respective divisions.
Cockerill – Eddie Mountain Division – The Thunder Cats captain spent 16 minutes in the penalty box in 39 games and had six goals and 13 assists. Cockerill said he’s always played a disciplined game and it comes down to having work ethic, being honest and playing with integrity.
“I respect all the players that I play against,” he said. “Being 20, I realize that everybody for the most part in the league is a good guy. When you are playing against them, it might not always seem like it, I just hope for the same back even though sometimes you can get into some pretty good battles on the ice.”
Cockerill never really let opponents get to him.
“I don’t buy into any of the chirping. I go out there and I play my game,” he said. “I don’t really let anybody get me off my game. It’s an honour to receive it. It definitely means a lot for sure.”
Lautard – Neil Murdoch Division – “It was pretty awesome. It’s an honour and it’s nice to be recognized for something,” said Lautard, who served 14 minutes in penalties. “I thought I played pretty well and stayed physical and worked hard.”
Lautard has always played a clean game and credits his father, who is a referee, for ensuring he plays that way all the time. He’s never wanted to take penalties to impact his team.
Lautard, who was second among Leaf defencemen in points with 27 points in 41 games, said he stepped up in a leadership role for their blueline group. He also improved offensively, being more mobile, getting pucks through traffic and to the net.
Johnston – Bill Ohlhausen Division – “I was very shocked when I saw it. I was in school when a couple of my friends came up to me and congratulated me. I didn’t know what they were talking about,” said Johnston, of the news breaking about him receiving the award. “Then my coach called and said congratulations. I just had to see for myself if it was true. It was really an honour.”
Johnston credits the Knights coaching staff for helping him become a better player and improving his hockey sense to play a disciplined game that saw him serve six minutes in penalties in 36 games.
Johnston also credited another factor that helped him earn the Most Sportsmanlike Player award.
“The most important part of me not taking penalties is having a black belt in Tae Kwon Do to be able to control myself and my anger when I do get angry,” he said. “I don’t take it out on others. My coaches really helped me decide when to be aggressive and when to hold back. I thank them for how I play.”
Johnston, who was third on the Knights in points with 30 points in 36 games, said he had a great season despite not having the team success he would have liked.
Stumpf – Doug Birks Division – “I was actually pretty surprised. I thought there was a lot of guys that deserved it,” said Stumpf. “I didn’t really realize it until I saw that a bunch of people reposted it on Instagram and Facebook. I was thinking, damn, that’s pretty cool. It’s a good award to win, too.”
Stumpf spent two minutes in the penalty box, while putting up seven goals and 10 assists in 40 games. Playing a disciplined style, Stumpf always strived to avoid taking “dumb penalties.”
“I go in the corners and in front of the net when there is a scrum, but I’m a pretty fair player,” said Stumpf, who likes to take the body.
The Houston, B.C. product said his first season in the KIJHL went pretty well, considering it was his first time playing high level hockey.
“The coaching was unreal. I learned a lot overall about everything,” he said.