Although he would still like to win a league title and a Memorial Cup, Karl Alzner doesn’t have much more to accomplish in the Western Hockey League.
The Calgary Hitmen captain capped off a great season by winning both the Player of the Year and Defenceman of the Year honours at the WHL Awards Luncheon in Calgary yesterday.
“It’s incredibly nice to be honoured for something like this,” said Alzner, who is now eligible for both awards at the CHL Awards Banquet on May 24 during the Memorial Cup in Kitchener, Ont. “A guy that I respect so much, Kris Russell, did it the year before me, so I’m happy to follow in his footsteps.”
After four seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Russell made the jump to the National Hockey League to play with the Columbus Blue Jackets. On hand to watch Alzner pick up the same two awards he won last year, Russell predicted the 6-foot-2, 209-pound defenceman will have an excellent chance to stick with the Washington Capitals next season.
“A player like Karl, he’s going to be finding the pro ranks pretty quick,” Russell said. “I definitely think he can make that jump because he’s a player that really understands the game. He’s a smart player and he’s going to be smart wherever he’s going to be.”
In addition to captaining Canada to its fourth straight world junior hockey championship in the Czech Republic, Alzner had seven goals to go with 29 assists and a plus-26 rating in 60 regular-season games. He then notched six goals and a pair of helpers in 16 playoff games as the Hitmen advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the second straight season before being swept by the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Kip Reghenas, the director of business operations for the Hitmen, won the WHL Marketing/Communications Award, while Calgary coach Kelly Kisio finished second to Tri-City’s Bob Tory for the WHL Executive of the Year Award.