Wildcats' Garland wins big at Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Awards
Conor Garland, a player for the Moncton Wildcats during the 2013-14 QMJHL season, Drummondville, Que., Sept. 28, 2013. (THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Ghyslain Bergeron)
Kelsey Patterson, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Thursday, April 9, 2015 8:18AM ADT
Last Updated Thursday, April 9, 2015 9:17AM ADT
MONTREAL -- Conor Garland of the Moncton Wildcats won big at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's most prestigious event.
With 129 points in 67 games this season, Garland was given the Michel Briere Trophy as the league's most valuable player at the Golden Puck Awards on Wednesday night.
"It feels nice," said Garland, who finished the season with a plus-21 rating. "It's nice to represent my organization. Our team had an MVP-like season. When you play on a good team, it helps anybody's personal stats."
The 18-year-old's 35 goals and 94 assists -- 27 more points than the league runner-up -- led the Wildcats to the top of the Maritimes division, and second place overall.
Garland, who's from the outskirts of Boston, became the first American-born player to receive the Michel Briere Trophy since former NHL star Pat Lafontaine won it in 1983.
"Lafontaine is probably one of the best Americans of all time, so that's obviously nice to be in the same class," said Garland. "Maybe that helps more Americans come up here and play."
The five-foot-eight Garland also took home the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the league's top scorer. The late Beliveau's wife, Elise Couture, was on hand to give Garland the award.
"To have an award in his name, it's tough and special at the same time," said the Wildcats winger of Beliveau, who passed away last December. "It's obviously a nice honour."
The QMJHL inducted five former members into the league's Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday, including Martin Brodeur (formerly of the St. Hyacinthe Laser) and Michel Therrien (as head coach for the Laval Titan and Granby Predateurs).
"It's an important night for me," said Therrien, who teared up accepting the award. "It's really emotional. I'm surrounded by people I have a lot of respect for."
Therrien coached three full seasons in the QMJHL, winning the Memorial Cup with Granby in 1996. He then coached four seasons in the American Hockey League before joining the NHL.
"It's a privilege to coach in the NHL and an honour to coach the Montreal Canadiens," said Therrien. "We've had success over the last three years, but it started over here. It's been a fun ride so far."
Martin Gelinas (Hull Olympiques), Billy Campbell (Montreal Junior and Verdun Junior) and Jean Rougeau, posthumously (former President of the QMJHL), were also inducted.
Rimouski Oceanic's Dan Kostalek, who finished the season with a league-best plus-55 rating, was named the league's best defenceman. The Czech Republic native signed an entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets two weeks ago.
Both Garland and Kostalek were elected to the QMJHL's first All-Star team. Joining them were Marvin Cupper (Shawinigan), Daniel Walcott (Blainville-Boisbriand), Danick Martel (Blainville-Boisbriand) and Nikolaj Ehlers (Halifax).
Kostalek's teammate Philippe Desrosiers won the Jacques Plante Trophy for the goaltender with the best goals-against-average. Desrosiers recorded five shutouts and posted a 2.50 goals-against-average in 44 games.
Blainville-Boisbriand Armada bench boss and former NHLer Joel Bouchard won the Ron Lapointe Trophy for coach of the year. Bouchard guided the Armada to 91 points and a 41-18-2-7 record, good for first in the West Division.
"You can't really win coach of the year unless you have players who buy in to what you want to do," said Bouchard, who played 364 NHL games between 1994 and 2006. "It's just not possible. This is a team trophy."
Dmytro Timashov of the Quebec Remparts was named rookie of the year. He finished the season with 19 goals and 71 assists in 66 games.
Martin Mondou, the General manager for the Shawinigan Cataractes, won the Maurice Filion Trophy for manager of the year.
Cape Breton's Kyle Farrell was named the most sportsmanlike player, and Timo Meier of the Halifax Mooseheads won best professional prospect.