WINCHESTER – The North Dundas Rockets hosted their annual banquet Sat., April 28 at the Winchester Lions Club as more than 70 players, fans, parents, volunteers and sponsors attended the event, which honoured team members after an exceptional year and playoff run.

It was a big night for graduating captain and standout defenceman Bryden van Kessel. He took home the hardware for top regular season scorer, regular season MVP, top defenceman, and playoff MVP. van Kessel recorded 72 points (31 G, 41 A) in 29 games played, good enough for third in league scoring. He also led the club in scoring throughout the playoffs with 26 points in 16 games, including three powerplay goals, two shorthanded markers and three game winning goals.

Justin Lefebvre collected the Rookie of the Year Award. Lefebvre finished second in team scoring (29 G, 24 A, 53 points) during the regular season and added another 20 points in 18 playoff games. Lefebvre is a diamond in the rough with a very bright future that will become a cornerstone for the Rockets in the coming years. 

Most Improved Player Award went to Jack van Kessel. He recorded 19 points in his rookie season, but most importantly earned the trust of the coaching staff as the season progressed.

Brodie Barkley was awarded the Coaches Award, which is awarded to a player who demonstrated character, leadership and “coachabililty.” Barkley was one of only two players to suit up for the entire regular season schedule, recording 28 points in 33 games despite suffering from a serious shoulder injury in the second half of the season and throughout the playoffs.

The best defensive forward was Bradley Stitt who, like Barkley, played in all 33 regular season games recording 30 points and was also named an assistant captain by the coaching staff.

Rockets Resolution Award went to Christopher Marchand. The award was new this year and recognized the player who has overcome serious obstacles throughout the season. During the first half of the season, Marchand suffered a broken jaw in a game against Prescott causing him to miss almost three months of hockey. He returned in time for the playoffs collecting 18 points and was a big presence for the Rockets throughout their run.

Nick Sourges was named most sportsmanlike player. No small feat for a defenseman who came into the season not having played competitive hockey for more than three years. Sourges is a tough competitor that played a physical game without taking penalties.

Connor Roth and Tom Fingler were named co-winners of the Most Outstanding Forward Award, which was another new award that recognized outstanding production for the team from the forward position.   

This years recipients of the van Kessel Family Award, given to the top volunteers, were Deb and Des Desarmeaux. The award was created last season in memory of the late Peter van Kessel Sr. who was one of the original founders of the Junior “C” program and could frequently be seen around North Dundas selling Rockets 50/50 tickets.

Graduating players Jason Buma, Shawn Simms, Chris Marchand and Bryden van Kessel were also presented with gifts from Forever Young Creations.