Being named the Penticton Vees most valuable player means a lot to Matt Robson.
“It’s nice to be recognized. It could have gone to literally 23 guys. I think everyone on our team is an MVP in their own right,” said Robson on Feb. 19 following a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over the Victoria Grizzlies. “It’s just a special moment. Having my parents here this weekend as well means a lot.”
Prior to Tuesday’s game in West Kelowna, Robson was tied for the BCHL lead in wins with 33 and has the second best goals against average at 2.01. He also owns the second best save per centage at .927. When asked about his performance this season, the Minnesota Golden Gopher commit said he still has more to give.
“I think I can be a lot better,” said Robson. “Off the ice the season is fantastic. It’s one of the most fun years I’ve ever had playing hockey.”
Robson also feels he has improved since September and credits goalie coach Jesse Plewis for the fantastic work he has done with him and Nolan Hildebrand. “Coming off of a year and a half of watching hockey games, not being able to play, the first couple of games were a little shaky I think technically,” said Robson. “Even though the numbers may have been good. It’s just been a steady improvement. We’re going to keep building.”
Griffin Mendel, named the Vees’ best defenceman, said Robson has been outstanding all year.
“He has kept us in a lot of games. Won us a lot of games,” said Mendel. “It’s always nice to have a guy like him.” Mendel said it was nice receiving the Best Defenceman Award, especially with the defence they have. He said anyone on the team could have won it.
“I think I’ve played good. I think I have been stepping it up lately,” said Mendel, who also received the Most Sportsmanlike Award thanks to his 14 penalty minutes. “I always want our team to win, so I’m trying to do as much as I can for our team to win.”
Robson said having a player like Mendel playing in front of him makes his job easier.
“He will run through a wall for anyone in that locker room. Everybody knows it,” said Robson. “Everyone would run back right through a wall for him too.”
He said watching Mendel play is “awesome.”
“Denver (University) has got a hell of a prospect,” said Robson.
“From the start of the year, he has come into his own. He obviously has the size (six-foot-four, 217 pounds) and the skill. You could see him getting smarter and smarter with every shift that he takes.”
Other Vees award winners included: Duncan Campbell — Unsung Hero, Ryley Risling — Vees on Vees Most Popular Player and Most Improved Player. Receiving the Robert Skinner Courage award was Turner Ripplinger and the Best Conditioned Athlete went to Grant Cruikshank, who also won Rookie of the Year. The Humanitarian Award went to goalie Nolan Hildebrand, and Owen Sillinger picked up the Fan Favourite and Most Inspirational Award. Greg Brydon received the Academic Award with a 4.0 grade point average. That award comes with a newly introduced annual bursary by Home Hardware for $500.