There’s no brunch to celebrate the season with fans and the community this year, but the Prince George Cougars have praised the accolades of its players by announcing its annual team awards.
Taylor Gauthier set several new personal records while standing firmly between the pipes in his third year as a Cougar and his performance was rewarded with the title of team MVP for 2019-20.
The 19-year-old posted career-highs with 16 wins, a 2.93 goal-against average and a 0.917 save-percentage, in addition to two shutouts and clocking in 2,870 minutes, the most of any other Western Hockey League (WHL) netminder this year.
.@PGCougars name Taylor Gauthier team MVP for the (shortened) 2019-20 season 🏆 The goaltender set several new career-highs:— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) March 27, 2020
▪️Wins = 16
▪️GAA = 2.93
▪️SV% = 0.917
He also led WHL in minutes at 2,870 between the pipes & 2nd with 1,537 saves | #CityOfPG @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/GjPVWo470w
“He came in this year really focused and became a really good player and leader,” said Cougars’ General Manager and Head Coach Mark Lamb in a team release.
“He’s still young, still improving and he has a great future ahead of him.”
The season and playoffs were eventually cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s nothing better than that at the end of a game when you’re celebrating and the crowd’s going nuts, so I just wanted to hear it,” said Gauthier in an earlier interview with PrinceGeorgeMatters about feeding off the crowd's energy during games.
“There’s [also] nothing better than coming into the room after a hard-fought win. You’re with all the guys, you’re listening to music and you’re just hanging out; that’s my favourite thing about winning and about hockey even. Being able to hang out with the guys and just be happy, that’s a really big motivating factor for me.”
Gauthier also notched a WHL Goaltender of the Week recognition in late January and ended up second in the league in shots-faced (1,677) and saves (1,537).
The Calgary product is ranked 27th among North American goaltenders in NHL Central Scouting’s latest ranking, making him still draft eligible after being passed over in Vancouver last year.
He also received the Three Stars Award after having the most three-star selections than any other player on the Prince George bench.
The full list of the 2019-20 Cougars’ year-end award winners are as follows:
- Ethan Samson = Brett Connolly Rookie of the Year
- Davin Griffin = Jeff Zorn Award for Academic Excellence
- Taylor Gauthier = Chris Mason Three Stars Award
- Majid Kaddoura = Dorothy Johnson Memorial Award (as voted by the fans)
- Jack Sander = Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation Humanitarian Award
- Josh Maser = Troy Bourke Offensive Player of the Year Award
- Cole Moberg = Eric Brewer Best Defensive Player Award
- Jack Sander = Michael Fogolin Memorial Award (as voted by the players)
- Taylor Gauthier = Dan Hamhuis Most Valuable Player Award