Image: Omaha Athletic
Image: Omaha Athletic

Eberle named Elite Series MVP, Kirk scoops Best British Player award

Sheffield Steelers forward Tanner Eberle was voted Elite Series MVP by the competition’s media pool, the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) has announced.

The 27-year-old Canadian forward enjoyed a headline-grabbing tournament for the Steelers, leading the Elite Series in goals (15) and points (27). 

Eberle played a key role in Sheffield’s run to the Elite Series final, opening his account for the tournament with a brace in a 7-2 win over the Coventry Blaze on 7 April. The Regina native was also handed the Best Forward award for his goalscoring exploits.

Blaze forward Tristan Keck was ranked second in the MVP race, with the Nottingham Panthers’ Austin Cangelosi voted as the tournament’s third star. 

Elsewhere, Arizona Coyotes draftee Liam Kirk was voted as the Best British Player at the tournament, with Nottingham Panthers goalie Jackson Whistle and Coventry Blaze forward Mike Hammond ranked second and third, respectively.

Young netminder Curtis Warburton also won an award for the Steelers, scooping the Best Rookie award ahead of Manchester Storm defenceman Ben Solder and Coventry Blaze forward Vanya Antonov.

Tim Wallace’s Nottingham Panthers dominated the remaining awards, with Whistle named Best Goalie and Mark Matheson recognised as the Elite Series’ Best Defenceman. 

Journalists also selected an All-Star Line, voting for Jeremy Beaudry to join Matheson on the blueline, with Keck, Eberle and Blaze forward Mike Hammond selected upfront. Whistle, the only netminder to register a shutout at the tournament, was the media’s choice between the pipes.


Analysis:

Well, I’m feeling pretty good following the announcement of the Elite League’s media awards!

As I explained in a recent episode of The Boar Sport Podcast, I voted as follows:

Best Goalie: Jackson Whistle

Best Defenceman: Mike Matheson

Best Forward: Tanner Eberle

Best Rookie: Ben Solder

Best British Player: (1) Mike Hammond, (2) Jackson Whistle, (3) Liam Kirk

Most Valuable Player: (1) Jackson Whistle, (2) Mike Hammond, (3) Mike Matheson

All-Star Line: Whistle; Matheson, Beaudry; Eberle, Hammond, Keck

Second All-Star Line: Shane Owen; Dallas Ehrhardt, Nicolai Bryhnisveen; Kirk, Scott Simmonds, Christophe Boivin

Given how closely my votes correlate with the final media awards, we can draw one of two conclusions. First, I know what I’m talking about. Second, the entire media pool knows nothing about hockey. 

Naturally, I lean towards the first!

Look, I have very few complaints to make about the eventual winners of each of the awards. 

Although he was kept off the box score in the final, Eberle had a fantastic, MVP-worthy tournament. 

Whistle was simply astounding in net for Nottingham, hence why I selected him as my MVP.

Solder, my pick for top rookie, was a mainstay for the Storm, eating 13 minutes per game for Ryan Finnerty’s side. In all honesty, Warburton was my #2 option.

The only slight surprise for me? I didn’t think Kirk would be crowned as the tournament’s Best British Player. That isn’t a criticism of Kirk (he was great, especially before he was blighted by injury), I just felt that Hammond’s production for Coventry was worthy of a gong. 

Please direct any complaints regarding my voting ballot to @BoarSport. Ciao!

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