If NHL Awards were issued to Michigan High School Hockey Players

Hypothetical recipients of some of the most iconic trophies in the sport

Craig Peterson

February 24, 2024


Each year, the NHL recognizes some of the top players in the game by awarding performances for such things as top goal scorer, best defenseman, fewest goals against, and of course, regular-season MVP. But who won the scoring race in Michigan high school hockey? What team gave up the fewest goals this season? Who’s the best defensive forward in the game and what the Hell is the Lady Byng, anyway?

I wanted to have a little fun and hand out some hypothetical accolades in the spirit of the NHL’s Awards, while also recognizing some top performers from the 2023-24 regular season. 

Maurice Richard Trophy: Matthew Wagner, North Oakland

Presented annually to the player finishing the regular season as the league’s goal-scoring leader.

Matthew Wagner scored 41 goals in 24 games for North Oakland. He finished with one more goal than Gladwin’s Treyton Seigert. The senior forward scored a goal in 21-of-24 games this season, scoring multiple goals 12 times. The first-year senior from the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies helped North Oakland to a 13-11-1 record in its first season as a co-op. He’s the third player from the Oakland Activities Association (OAA) to lead the state in scoring, joining Bloomfield Hills’ Kyle Lucia (44 goals in ‘21-22) and Royal Oak’s Henry Gabriel (57 in ‘16-17).

Art Ross Trophy: Fisher Gurney, Grosse Ile

Presented annually to the player who leads the league in scoring points at the end of the regular season.

Fisher Gurney finished the regular season with 83 points in 24 games; eight more than his Grosse Ile teammate Tate Hubler. The 6-foot-3 senior forward recorded at least one point in every game this season for the Red Devils. He tallied five or more points seven times in ‘23-24, leading Grosse Ile to a 22-3-0 record. It is the first time on record that a player from Grosse Ile has led the state in scoring, as well as a player from the Metro League (dating back to the ‘2012-13 season).

William M. Jennings Trophy: Bryant Lee, Houghton

Presented annually to the goaltender(s) having played a minimum [30 percent] of the team(s) games with the fewest goals scored against it during the regular season.

Allowing just 28 goals against all season long, the Houghton Gremlins proved to be one of the most defensively sound teams in the state. They allowed more than two goals against just twice this season; once to out-of-state Notre Dame Academy as well as No. 11 Brother Rice. Additionally, senior Bryant Lee was spectacular in goal, with a .945 save percentage. That ranked him second among goalies with 10 or more starts, and his 1.20 goals-against average was tops in the state.

Jack Adams Award: Zach Schalk, Bay City

Presented annually to the coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success.

For a fourth consecutive season, coach Zach Schalk has improved Bay City’s statewide rankings year over year. When he took over in ‘20-21, the Wolves went 7-9-0 and ranked 95th in the state, according to MyHockeyRankings. The following season, Bay City climbed to 57th, and reached 37th overall by the end of the ‘22-23 season. This winter, Schalk’s squad faced its toughest slate of games by facing six Top-25 opponents, competing in the North-South Showcase and earning an invite to the MIHL Showcase. They won 17 games for the third consecutive season, peaking at 23rd overall in my latest rankings, and earning the top seed in the Region 10 playoffs.

Frank J. Selke Trophy: Charlie Burchfield, Brighton

Presented annually to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.

I polled a few coaches from around the state, and unsolicited, each one of them mentioned Charlie Burchfield. “No doubt for me”…”TOUGH to play against”…”He’s a f@#!in pest, dude”

Finished the ‘23-24 regular season with eight goals and 23 points, but Burchfield’s biggest impact is much larger than the score sheet. He led Brighton with 40 blocked shots, won 66 percent of his face-offs and finished with a plus-20 rating. It’s one thing to earn the respect of your team, but Burchfield has earned the respect of his opponents. 

Calder Memorial Trophy: Kyle Lynch, Clarkston

Presented annually to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition.

The 2006-born former AAA player made his Michigan high school hockey debut with the No. 7-ranked Clarkston Wolves this season. Junior Kyle Lynch joined a team that already featured standout prospects like Owen Croston, Ron Wade and Evan Adams. Not only did he separate himself as a major contributor on the Wolves, but proved he’s a top prospect in the state as well. Lynch scored 12 goals and 31 points against a Top-25 strength of schedule, with nine of those points coming against ranked opponents.

James Norris Memorial Trophy: Connor Raffaelli, Houghton

Presented annually to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-around ability in the position.

A smooth skating and crisp puck-moving defenseman for No. 2-ranked Houghton. Connor Raffaelli finished the regular season with a plus-25 rating, anchoring a Gremlins defensive effort that allowed the fewest goals against in the state. The four-year senior had career highs in goals (nine) and points (29), ranking among the top 10 defensemen in points from the Class of 2024. Very few D-men in Michigan high school hockey this season produced as much, defended as well and project to the next level as well as Raffaelli. 

King Clancy Memorial Trophy: Matt McKinney, Traverse City Central

Presented annually to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.

A junior in his second season with Traverse City Central. Matthew McKinney scored three goals and seven points from the blue line this season. But his biggest impact may have been made in the hallways of Traverse City Central High School. During a weight lifting class, McKinney was made aware of a younger student in need of confidence and support. In an environment where torment and persecution can go unchecked, a 16-year-old McKinney chose inclusion and acceptance. His leadership skills have had a positive effect not only on the Trojan hockey team, but the Traverse City community as well.

Lady Byng Memorial Trophy: Ian Kastamo, Hartland

Presented annually to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.

In the conversation among top performers in the game this season as a junior. Ian Kastamo has been a standout forward for the No. 5-ranked Hartland Eagles, scoring 12 goals and 26 points against the fifth-toughest schedule in the state. He’s a finalist for State Champs! Player of the Year Award, and will likely receive consideration for the Michigan High School Hockey Coaches’ Association (MHSHCA) Dream Team as well. All of this while taking just one, two-minute minor penalty all season. He’s a top-level performer with a cool, calm demeanor on the ice as well.

Vezina Trophy: Cam LaBadie, Sault Ste. Marie

Presented annually to the goaltender adjudged to be the best at his position.

Second in the state in shutouts with six, Cam LaBadie backstopped his Sault Ste. Marie squad to two 1-0 wins, and allowed one goal or less in 12 of his 19 starts. His .947 save percentage was tops among goaltenders with at least 10 appearances. The first-year senior’s 1.23 goals-against average was second in the state, compiling a 15-3-1 record with the 14th ranked Blue Devils. He did all of this while facing a strength of schedule that ranked in the Top 25 in Michigan. 

Hart Memorial Trophy: Jackson Walsh, Detroit Catholic Central

Presented annually to the player adjudged to be the most valuable to his team.

I watched Detroit Catholic Central four times this season, and every time, they had different forward line combinations. The one consistent was, whoever played alongside Jackson Walsh seemed to have their best performance. It’s an easy choice to select the best player on the best team. Would Detroit Catholic Central still be a top team without Walsh in the lineup? Yes. But the 6-foot-1 senior forward has a knack for making the people around him better, regardless of who is on his line. That is a trait that almost nobody possesses at this level. On top of that, Walsh scored 12 goals and 38 points while leading the Shamrocks to yet another undefeated season in-state against the toughest schedule in Michigan.

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