TORONTO – The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced Monday the finalists for its Top Forward Award in recognition for their efforts during the course of the 2022-23 campaign.
They were determined through a voting process completed by the CJHL’s nine-member leagues, for their respective efforts during the course of the regular season.
Tyler Fukakusa, the captain of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, is one of the five finalists. He was the MVP, scoring champion and most gentlemanly player in the Ontario Junior Hockey League this season.
The following are the five nominees for CJHL Top Forward honours in 2022-23, which are listed alphabetically, by league:
Aiden Fink, Brooks Bandits (AJHL): Fink was voted the 2022-23 AJHL Most Valuable Player (MVP) and recipient of the Top Forward Award. The NHL Top Prospect currently leads the AJHL in points (97) and goals (41) after 54 regular season games, averaging 1.8 points per game. From Calgary, he was ranked No. 66 among North American Skaters in the NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term Rankings for the upcoming 2023 NHL Entry Draft. … The 2004-born Bandit was also selected to represent the AJHL as a member of Team Canada West at the 2022 World Junior A Challenge in December. … His season has been filled with accolades including two Alberta Ford Dealers Player of the Month awards, two Pizza 73 AJHL Player of the Week selections, the Brook Bandits Top Forward award, and he was named the Viterra AJHL Star of the Game seven times. … “We are fortunate to have been a part of Aiden’s development over the past two seasons, his growth on and off the ice has been significant,” said Bandits GM / Head Coach Ryan Papaioannou. … “He was in a great position last year to learn from some highly skilled veteran players and was able to play a key role for us in the late stages of the season. This year Aiden picked up where others left off and has been dominant from the first exhibition game, right through the regular season. He’s handled the internal pressures of leading our team from a scoring perspective along with all of the outside pressures of the NHL Draft with maturity and focus. We are proud of his accomplishments and are all looking forward to his playoff season.” He is an alternate captain for the Bandits this season and is committed to the University of Wisconsin (NCAA).
With files from Charla Flett, Executive Director (AJHL)
Lucas Brennan, (F) Selkirk Steelers (MJHL): The Steelers’ 18-year-old second-year forward from Winnipeg enjoyed a breakout season with Selkirk, recording 41 goals and adding 43 assists to lead the league in scoring with a 1.58 points-per-game average. … This achievement earned him the Mike Ridley Trophy as the MJHL’s Top Scorer in 2022-23. … In November, Brennan announced his commitment to play NCAA Division I Hockey for the Bemidji State University Beavers. … This season, Brennan was also named the MJHL’s Most Valuable Player, First Team All-Star and was an MJHL star of the week three times and MJHL player of the month once. … Brennan was named to both the MJHL Top Prospects Showcase in November and was selected to play for Team MJHL at the MJHL-SJHL Showcase in January.
With files from Eric Swar, Director, Marketing & Partnerships (MJHL)
Olivier Columbe, Edmundston Blizzard (MHL): The 21-year-old from Montmagny, Que., finished fourth in league scoring with 82 points, despite starting his season in November. … Coulombe tallied 52 goals and 30 assists in 2022-23, marking the first time a player has topped the 50-goal mark in the MHL since Summerside’s Thomas Stavert in 2014-15. … Coulombe had points in 36 of 37 games played. … He finished tied for third with Grand Falls’ Yannic Bastarache in powerplay points with 37. … Coulombe had an incredible 12 game-winning goals, including a streak of four straight games in November with the winning goal and three-straight games in January. … He had a league-best 27-game point streak in 2022-23, collecting 59 points from November 4 to February 17, and entered the Metalfab MHL Cup Playoffs on a nine-game goal scoring streak with sixteen goals in that time. … Coulombe was named the MHL’s Top Forward in November and January, and was the Honourable Mention in March. He was named to the North’s Team of the Week seven times.
With files from James Faulkner, Director of Communications (MHL)
Tyler Fukakusa, (F) Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL): Fukakusa of the Toronto Jr. Canadiens was the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s 2022-23 scoring champion. … The second-year forward from Mississauga scored 35 goals and added a league-high 70 assists for the regular season champion Jr. Canadiens. … His 105 points was 11 more than the second-best point-getter, Rhys Chiddenton of the Georgetown Raiders. … During his 88-point rookie campaign in the OJHL, the now 20-year-old Fukakusa committed to NCAA Division I RIT in Rochester, NY. … The 5-foot-10 forward from Mississauga joined the Toronto Jr A Canadiens in the fall of 2021 after playing with the Toronto Red Wings U18 program in 2019-20. … After wearing an A in 2021-22, Tyler was named captain of JRC last July. … “Tyler Fukakusa was an easy choice for us to take over the reins as our captain,” said Head Coach Vince Bellissimo. “Tyler embodies the exact type of person and player that we build our program on. We know that Tyler will lead and guide our players in their day-to-day both physically and mentally.”
With files from Jim Mason, Director of Communications (OJHL)
Kian Bell, Battlefords North Stars (SJHL): It has been an unforgettable season for Battlefords North Stars forward Kian Bell. … The 19-year-old forward played a major role in the Stars not just being the 1st place team in the SJHL, but one of the top teams in the country. … Bell surpassed the 50-goal plateau before hitting the 50 games played mark. … Bell finished the year with 54 goals 48 assists and 102 points in 51 games played, averaging two points per game. … Bell was named SJHL Player of the Week five times this season, and SJHL Player of the month on two occasions.
With files from Jeromy Corrigan, Director of Media (SJHL)
Earning honourable mention for the CJHL Top Forward Award in 2022-23 were:
Sean James, Smiths Falls Bears (CCHL); Anthony Di Cesare, Cobras de Terrebonne (LHJAAAQ); Nicolas Pigeon, Timmins Rock (NOJHL) and Ryder McMillen, Wisconsin Lumberjacks (SIJHL).
PHOTO: Ed McPherson of OJHL Images