Laker’s gritty play gets league recognition

Mike Sandor is hardly a saint, but on a Penticton Lakers team that rung up 1,256 penalty minutes, he only counted six.

Penticton Lakers forward Mike Sandor was named the Most Sportsmanlike Player in the Okanagan Division after amassing six penalty minutes in 45 games.

Penticton Lakers forward Mike Sandor was named the Most Sportsmanlike Player in the Okanagan Division after amassing six penalty minutes in 45 games.

Mike Sandor is hardly a saint, but on a Penticton Lakers team that rung up 1,256 penalty minutes, he only counted six.

That’s three trips to the sin bin for the North Vancouver resident in 45 games. Sandor, an alternate captain on the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League squad, said he wasn’t shocked about that number considering just a couple of years ago he piled up just 10. And because he was so disciplined between whistles, the KIJHL recognized Sandor with the Most Sportsmanlike award for the Okanagan Division.

“Mike’s been arguably our most consistent player,” said Lakers head coach and general manager Evan Marble. “He’s been outstanding throughout the season. He’s physical and aggressive, in a respectful way that doesn’t cost the team. Mike plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Being recognized in such a fashion is special for Sandor.

“I feel I’m not the most significant guy, but I play a tough game,” said Sandor, who tries to fashion his game after favourites such as Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks. “I’m usually killing other people’s penalties.”

“He is one of the top penalty killing guys,” said Marble. “He does so many things right.”

The six-foot, 165-pound forward was second in Lakers scoring this year with 14 goals and 28 points.

Andy Oakes, president of the Okanagan Hockey Academy, said Sandor is a great kid.

“Mike is a really solid, two-way all around forward,” added Oakes. “He has a great demeanor, competes hard and plays within the rules of the game.”

And it’s those qualities, which attracted the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies to use him as an affiliate player. Sandor has joined the Grizzlies for their playoff push.

One of the differences Sandor noticed of the BCHL compared to the KIHL is the will to compete and win by players.

“Guys are striving to win and more competitive and fast,” said Sandor, who collected a single assist during the Lakers four-game loss to  the Osoyoos Coyotes. “I’m a playmaker, smart and tenacious and go for pucks. I try to make the smart play.”

Marble enjoyed coaching Sandor because he is very receptive to feedback and is always positive on the bench.

“He’s is a low maintenance player,” said Marble. “That is the best way to describe him.”