The Delta Islanders best season in franchise history was reflected on Monday when the B.C. Junior "A" Lacrosse League announced its annual individual awards.
The Islanders walked away with plenty of hardware, highlighted by three major winners. Departing third-year veterans Mike Mallory and Cody Hawkins were named Most Valuable Player and Best Defensive Player respectively, while Shaun Springett and his staff were named Coach of the Year.
Mallory finished third in league scoring with 74 points in 17 games, including 35 goals. He also finished just behind teammate Logan Schuss in playoff scoring with 51 points in just 10 games.
The Maple Ridge native, who was the team's top pick in the one-time league midget draft five years ago, was also named the league's Top Graduating Player.
Hawkins provided outstanding defensive play and leadership as the Islanders captain this season. The standout athlete spent much of his career playing alongside his good friend Sean O'Neil. The pair were also standout football players, first for the South Delta Rams, then at the high school level for the Seaquam Seahawks.
"Cody was a great captain and a terrific kid," said Springett. "We're definitely going to miss him and the other graduating players that played a big part in what we accomplished this year."
Mallory and Hawkins were also named to the league's first all-star team.
The Islanders saw their memorable campaign end last week with a five game loss to the Coquitlam
Adanacs in their first-ever appearance in the league finals.
The next step for the franchise is to become a perennial contender and not just a one year wonder. Springett is confident that will happen.
He will have an impressive core of returning players to work with including Eli McLaughlin who was just edged out for the league's top rookie award. Others such as Mike Henry, Tyler Nett and Sam Clare will pick up the scoring slack being left behind by Mallory and Schuss, while Cody Nass is expected to skip his final year of intermediate in Richmond and join Delta on a full-time basis next season. He led the intermediate "A" league in scoring this past season and had 25 points in 10 games as a call-up.
In the back end, Dan McDermott, Taylor Northway, Ben Snider and Mike Donaldson will be among the key returning players. Goaltender Will Schwan had an impressive rookie season and amazingly still has four more years of junior eligibility. The local product will also be fully recovered from a concussion that limited his play in the post-season.
"It was so important we reached the finals with all those first year players we have," said Springett. "Now the only thing they know is getting that far so that is where the expectations will be.
"I know a lot of people think we overachieved but where we ended up is exactly where I thought we would be. A year and a half go, we had a mojo against New Westminster that we had to overcome and then it was Coquitlam but I think we showed in the finals we got over that too. I'm very proud of what the boys have accomplished and I think we have opened the eyes of the lacrosse community. This is where kids want to play.
"When we came onboard, we revamped a lot of things that I think raised a lot of eyebrows at first, but once the players started to see the results, they bought into it. We're definitely excited about next season."
Three who won't be back in 2013 are goaltender Pete Dubenski and offensive players Mitch Parker and Ryan Watson. The three were acquired near the league trading deadline under the agreement they will return to their former teams. Dubenski and Parker will be headed back to Nanaimo and Watson to Burnaby.
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