It seems like wherever you look or whatever you hear over the last few weeks, someone is getting recognized for their hard work and dedication to their craft. It's awards season at this time of the year, and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has announced their award winners for the 2018-2019 season.

Only seven awards have been given out by the league this season and a couple Klippers have received recognition for their success this winter.

For the second consecutive season, Klippers goaltender Justen Close is the winner of the Top Goaltender Award, while head coach and general manager Clayton Jardine receives the Coach of the Year Award.

Two Melfort Mustangs players have taken home awards from their spectacular play on the ice this year. Carson Albrecht is the 2018-2019 Player of the Year (33-54-87) and Justin Ball receives the Most Valuable Player award (53-49-102).

Top Defenceman goes to Battlefords North Stars captain Cody Spagrud (10-31-41). Meanwhile, Melville Millionaires forward Luke Spadafora earns Rookie of the Year (16-27-43)

This winter has been a year to remember for Kindersley's own Justen Close. He's received a number of weekly and monthly awards from the league, represented the team at the SJHL/MJHL Showcase with a couple of his teammates, and even solidified a college committment with the University of Minnesota's hockey program. And of course it's worth mentioning he also either leads or is in one of the top positions in SJHL goaltender statistical categories.

Read more: SJHL Goaltender of the Week Awarded to Kindersley's Close

Now, his perseverance and dedication throughout the season has earned him the lone goaltender award from the SJHL this winter. Last season, the 20-year-old netminder shared Top Goaltender with Nipawin's Declan Hobbs, who was a candidate for this year's award along with Meville Millionaires' stopper Colby Entz.

Following the news being released on Wednesday afternoon, Jardine spoke on the phone about his goalie being the latest recipient of the award.

Read more: Close Comments on Commitment to the University of Minnesota

The new SJHL Coach of the Year has had himself an outstanding inaugural season as the Klippers bench boss. He has helped bring his team to a record of 35-15-3-2 with a chance to end the season as the league's top dog.

Over the phone, he explained how he was truly thankful for the accolade and how it couldn't have been possible without help from the franchise.

Jardine entered in the league as an assistant coach during the 2015-2016 schedule when Geoff Grimwood served as the Klippers head coach and general manager. After one season with Kindersley, the Lacombe, Alberta native earned a position as an assistant coach at New England College, who compete in the NCAA Division III, while completing his schooling. He was in New Hampshire, U.S.A. until this summer, when he marked his return to Kindersley, Saskatchewan and was named the new head coach and general manager of the Klippers.

In his "rookie year" as a head coach in the SJHL, Jardine has managed to guide his players to one of the organization's best records in recent years. The Klippers are currently first in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division and second in the league standings with 75 points in 55 games, their best showing since the 2014-2015 campaign when Kindersley finished second in the league with 81 points in 56 games.

Read more: Jardine Named First Nominee for Coach of the Year Award

Another huge change the Klippers have witnessed with Jardine at the helm is a reduction in penalties. Known for being near the top in the SJHL in penalty minutes, the Klippers are 7th in penalty minutes at 1204, which has been another testament to Kindersley's success this winter.

Although, there is still a few games left in the regular season, and with playoffs at the horizon, Jardine wants to make sure his players continue to up their game to end the season strong.

With three points separating the top three teams in the division, Kindersley's battle with the Battlefords North Stars and Humboldt Broncos for the division crown is not over yet, and fans can expect for the fight to go right until the final games of the regular season.

The Broncos will visit the West Central Events Centre to play the Klippers tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. for their final meeting of the regular season. Then on Saturday, it's the Klippers' last home game of the schedule when they welcome the Notre Dame Hounds to town at 7:30 p.m.

The Klippers will cap off the regular season away from home on Tuesday when they travel to the North Battleford Civic Centre to face the North Stars.


Twitter: @MoisesCanalesJr

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