Men’s Hockey News

CHARLOTTETOWN (U SPORTS) – Simon Lafrance of the UQTR Patriotes has been named the winner of the Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy as the most outstanding player of the year in U SPORTS men’s hockey. The announcement was made on Wednesday night at the All-Canadian Awards Ceremony at the Delta Hotels by Marriott Prince Edward in Charlottetown, the host city of the 2023 U SPORTS Cavendish Farms University Cup.

Other major award winners include Samuel Richard of UNB, who won the Clare Drake Trophy as rookie of the year; Matt Welsh of Saint Mary’s, who won the Dr. Randy Gregg Award for student-athlete community service; Troy Lajeunesse of UPEI, who won the R.W. Pugh Trophy for most sportsmanlike player; Connor Hobbs of Saskatchewan, who was named Defenceman of the Year; Nathan Torchia of Windsor, who was named Goaltender of the Year; and Calgary’s Mark Howell, who won the Father George Kehoe Memorial Award as the Fox40 Coach of the Year.

The 2023 U SPORTS Cavendish Farms University Cup gets underway on Thursday afternoon at the Eastlink Centre in Charlottetown, and play continues through to the gold medal game, which is set for 7 p.m. (Atlantic Time) on Sunday. All eight games of the tournament can be viewed on CBC Sports digital platforms (English) and at (French). 

Senator Joseph A. Sullivan Trophy (most outstanding player) – Simon Lafrance, UQTR

Simon Lafrance led the OUA in scoring with 38 points in 23 regular-season games. The third-year right winger scored 16 goals and added 22 assists. His 10 power-play goals were second in the country, and his four game-winners are the most in U SPORTS this season. He was held off the scoresheet only twice this season. He was named U SPORTS men’s hockey player of the week once this season, on Feb. 1, after a seven-point weekend that allowed UQTR to clinch the OUA East pennant.

The St-Eustache product also played for Team Canada at the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., where he tied for the team lead in assists with eight and finished with 10 points overall in seven games as Canada swept its way to a gold medal for the first time since 2013.

In the OUA playoffs, the former Val d’Or Foreur and Victoriaville Tigre scored four points in six games as the Patriotes won their second straight Queen’s Cup.

Other nominees: Liam Hawel (STFX), Riley Sawchuk (Mount Royal)

Clare Drake Trophy (rookie of the year) – Samuel Richard, UNB

Samuel Richard started 22 games for the UNB REDS this season, posting a 1.59 goals-against average, the lowest in U SPORTS, as he recorded a nation-leading 18 wins. His 0.933 save percentage was third in the country, and his 1319 minutes played was fourth in U SPORTS.

The Ste-Catherine, Qué., product was named U SPORTS men’s hockey player of the week on Nov. 16, 2022, after stopping 42 of 43 shots in a pair of wins over Acadia. The former Rouyn-Noranda Husky was named a Second Team All-Canadian, the only rookie to earn All-Canadian honours this year.

In the playoffs, he played every minute for UNB, posting a 2.51 GAA and a 0.885 save percentage as he led the REDS to the AUS title.

Other nominees: Jonathan Lemieux (Concordia), Jakin Smallwood (Alberta)

 Defenceman of the Year – Connor Hobbs, Saskatchewan

A rare triple threat from the blueline, Connor Hobbs has been one to watch this season, whether on defence or offence. Hobbs has been an integral part of the Saskatchewan Huskies since joining the team in 2021. The defenceman from Saskatoon was the leading scorer for the Huskies, posting eight goals and 27 assists during the 2022-23 season.

Hobbs is the epitome of a stand-out defender. The fourth-year education student averaged more than a point per game, showing off his talent, intensity, and grit on both ends of the ice. His 35 points led all U SPORTS defensemen.

His all-around game makes him a key player on the ice, while his leadership makes those around him better.

“Connor Hobbs has earned the honour of being named the U SPORTS Defenseman of the Year,” said Brandin Cote, the Huskies’ head coach. He is an electrifying player on the ice, but more importantly, he is an exceptional leader, a dedicated student, and the ultimate teammate. He has an incredible slap-shot and can really drive a game. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he plays hard all the time.”

Other nominees: Justin Bergeron (UQTR), Matt Brassard (UPEI).

Goaltender of the Year – Nathan Torchia, Windsor

No matter how much the opposition tried, Nathan Torchia was tough to beat between the pipes this year.

The former Georgetown Raider and Summerside Western Capital saw his fair share of action during the 2022-23 season, playing over 1,321 minutes for the Blue and Gold, the second most in the OUA. Torchia finished the year with a league-leading 16 wins and just three regulation and three overtime losses and was a big reason the Lancers finished tied atop the OUA west division with 39 points.

Through the regular season, the Baden, Ont., native produced a nation-leading 0.936 save percentage and recorded a 2.04 goals-against average to sit seventh in the country. Torchia was again outstanding in the postseason, posting a 1.78 GAA – tops in Canada – and a 0.946 save percentage.

“Nathan’s consistent play throughout the year has vaulted him as one of the finest goaltenders in the country,” said Lancer men’s hockey head coach Kevin Hamlin. “I couldn’t be happier for someone like Nathan to receive recognition at the national level. He has been consistently great for us this year and gives us a chance to compete every night.”  

Other nominees: Samuel Richard (UNB), Carl Telachuk (Calgary)

R.W. Pugh Trophy (most sportsmanlike player) – Troy Lajeunesse, UPEI

In his fourth season with the UPEI Panthers, Lajeunesse led the Panthers in both goals (15) and points (30). His 30 points were good for fourth in the Atlantic conference.

The Arts student from Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, played in 28 games for UPEI and took 108 shots while picking up just six minor penalties all season.

In addition to being named the country’s most sportsmanlike player, Lajeunesse has also been named a Second Team All-Canadian.

The only UPEI player to be honoured with the national award is former Panthers standout Joel Ward, who won the award in 2004-05 and then went on to play 11 seasons in the NHL, retiring from the San Jose Sharks in 2018.

"We are very proud of Troy and this award. It is so well deserved. Troy is so committed and driven and plays the game the right way,” said UPEI head coach Forbes MacPherson. “He is being honoured for sportsmanship, but this award is given to an elite player that plays with sportsmanship, and that is why Troy has been recognized.”

Other nominees: Kyle Pettit (Western), Matt Fonteyne (Alberta)

Dr. Randy Gregg Award (student-athlete community service) – Matt Welsh, Saint Mary’s

Matt Welsh of the Saint Mary's Huskies started in 14 games this season and finished with a .904 save percentage. He was also selected to represent his country at the 2023 FISU Winter World University Games held in Lake Placid, NY, in January, where he brought home a gold medal as a member of Team Canada.

A commerce student from Halifax, N.S., aiming to pursue an MBA, Welsh, 24, has been named to the Dean's list and is a two-time Academic All-Canadian.

Welsh is a player-ambassador for Hockey Gives Blood, an organization promoting blood, plasma and stem cell donation in partnership with Canadian Blood Services. As part of this volunteer role, Welsh has organized blood drives and promoted the organization on social media platforms.

Welsh, who spent five years with the Charlottetown Islanders, was given the Dayna Brons Honorary Award in 2020 for an individual in the hockey community who exhibits outstanding dedication towards patients who rely on blood and stem cell products in Canada. 

He also won the 2021-22 Saint Mary’s University Male President’s Trophy for Academic and Athletic Achievement.

Welsh is the third Saint Mary’s player, following David Chant (2006) and Steven Gallace (2001), to win the award.

Other nominees: Duncan Campbell (Queen’s), Connor Blake (Mount Royal)

Father George Kehoe Memorial Award (Fox 40 Coach of the Year) – Mark Howell, Calgary

The man at the helm of the league-leading Calgary Dinos has been named Coach of the Year after pushing his team to exceed expectations in 2022-23. Mark Howell has coached his team to a Canada West-record 23-straight victories to end the regular season, a special feat that can only be accomplished through strong leadership.

Howell also led the Dinos to a program-record 25 wins during the regular season and in the post-season, to its first Canada West championship since 1996.

Howell has won this award twice before (2011, 2014). He was named the CIS Coach of the Year in 2011.

“Mark and his staff did a tremendous job this year,” said Ben Matchett, the Calgary Athletic Director. “A historic season like the one the Dinos had doesn't happen without buy-in and belief from every member of the team, and the group he assembled and coached to a first-place finish has completely bought in.”

Other nominees: Tyler Naugler (Saint Mary’s), Andrew Wilkins (Lakehead).


First team All-Canadians

Pos Athlete University Year Hometown Academic Program
G Nathan Torchia Windsor 2 Baden, Ont. Sociology
D Connor Hobbs Saskatchewan 4 Saskatoon, Sask. Education
D Justin Bergeron UQTR 2 Magog, Que. Business
F Simon Lafrance UQTR 3 St. Eustache, Que. Physical & Health Education
F Liam Hawel STFX 2 Arnprior, Ont. Business
F Riley Sawchuk Mount Royal 2 Prince Albert, Sask. Business

Second team All-Canadians

Pos Athlete University Year Hometown Academic Program
G Samuel Richard UNB 1 Ste-Catherine, Que. Arts
D Matt Brassard UPEI 3 Barrie, Ont. Business
D Noah King Calgary 2 Winnipeg, Man. Arts
F Troy Lajeunesse UPEI 4 Sturgeon Falls, Ont. Arts
F Jacob Roach Brock 2 Brooklin, Ont. Sport Management
F Riley Stotts Calgary 2 Winnipeg, Man. Arts

All-Rookie Team

Pos Athlete University Hometown Academic Program
G Samuel Richard UNB Ste-Catherine, Que. Arts
D Eric Van Impe Western Calgary, Alta. King’s College
D Jake Lee UBC Sherwood Park, Alta. Arts
F Simon Pinard UNB Drummondville, Que. Arts
F William Rouleau McGill St-Basile-le-Grand, Que. Finance
F Jakin Smallwood Alberta Leduc, Alta. Native Studies