Thunderbirds’ Gibson named finalist for CJHL’s Top Defenceman

CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League released Thursday the names of the five players that have been selected finalists for the CJHL’s Top Defenceman Award for the 2021-22 campaign.

Each of the finalists were determined through a voting process completed by the CJHL’s nine-member leagues, for their respective contributions over the course of the regular season.

The following are the five nominees for the CJHL’s Top Defenceman, which are listed alphabetically, by league:

ZACH BOOKMAN, (D) BROOKS BANDITS (AJHL): The NHL Draft Prospect, who earned a place in the final NHL Draft rankings, was selected as the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Outstanding Defenceman and recipient of the W.G. (Bill) Scott Memorial Trophy. … The award recognizes the defensive player who demonstrates the greatest all-round ability in the position throughout the season. … Bookman set three league records in his final games of the regular season and finished third overall in the AJHL Scoring Race with 102 points (21G, 81A). … The Merrimack College NCAA Division I commit led all AJHL defencemen and rookies in scoring, setting new AJHL Records for most points by a defenceman (102), most assists by a defenceman (81) and most assists by a rookie (81). … The 19-year-old was recognized twice as the Inter Pipeline AJHL Rookie of the Week and four times as the Alberta Ford Dealers AJHL Defensive Player of the Week. Bookman (Syracuse, N.Y.) was also a finalist for AJHL Rookie of the Year and won the team award as Top Defenceman.

With files from Charla Flett, V.P., Communications (AJHL)

MARK COOPER, (D) HAWKESBURY HAWKS (CCHL): Cooper was more than just a point producer, but has still chipped in offensively when needed. … Finishing third overall among CCHL defencemen scoring with 47 points, collected 11 goals and added 36 assists in 51 games. … His four game-winning goals led all CCHL defencemen. … What made him so valuable is his two-way ability and shutdown prowess. … He helped the Hawkesbury Hawks solidify their overall game at even strength and on special teams, while providing high quality leadership to the younger players on the team. 2021-22 regular season statistics – GP: 51; G: 11; A: 36; PTS: 48.

With files from Sean Marcellus, Director of Operations (CCHL)

PIERRE-OLIVIER BOURGEOIS, (D) PANTHÈRES DE ST-JÉRÔME (LHJAAAQ): Led all LHJAAAQ defencemen in scoring during the regular season with 64 points. … In all he scored 20 goals and registered 44 assists in 36 just 36 games played. … Finished 1st in the league for goals scored among the defencemen with his 20 tallies. … Finished 2nd in the league for assists among the defencemen with his 44. … Led all defencemen in the league in game-winning goals (3) and in shots on with (188). … Tied for 4th among the defencemen in the league with five power-play goals. Finished tie for 2nd in the league in plus-minus, among defencemen, at plus-40. …  Was selected LHJAAAQ defensive player of the week eight times during the course of the season.

With files from Francis Dupont, Director of Communications (LHJAAAQ)

ANDREW GIBSON, (D) SOO THUNDERBIRDS (NOJHL): Another first-year stalwart on the Sault Ste. Marie roster was Gibson. … The 17-year-old blueliner, who hails from Windsor, Ont., led all NOJHL defencemen in scoring with 51 points in 40 outings. … Gibson was also tops in tallies among rearguards (21), point-per-game average (1.28), man advantage markers (9), power play assists and points (21-30) and game-winning goals (5). … Finished 12th in league scoring, among all skaters. … Earning NOJHL Defenceman of the Month honours for March, Gibson went on to be named a NOJHL 1st Team All-Star on defence. … He was also selected one of the league’s 3 Stars of the Week on two occasions.

With files from: Scott Marshall, Statistician/Webmaster (NOJHL)

XAVIER LAPOINTE, (D) FLIN FLON BOMBERS (SJHL): The commit to NCAA Division I Rochester Institute of Technology dominated the SJHL from the start of this year, ending up with 19 goals and 50 points – both the best in the league among defencemen – while playing in all 58 games on the Bombers’ back end. … A 2002-born native of Quebec City, Que., Lapointe joined the Bombers ahead of the season and was a key reason why Flin Flon held the best goal differential in the Sherwood Division in 2021-22 at plus-48. … The fleet-footed two-way defender looks to attend R.I.T. next season.

With files from Logan Fraser, Director of Marketing & Communications (SJHL)

Earning honourable mention recognition for the CJHL Top Defenceman Award in 2021-22 were the following:

Parker Malchuk, (D) Dauphin Kings (MJHL); Brock Bartholomew, (D) Amherst Ramblers (MHL); Brendan Tomilson, (D) Pickering Panthers (OJHL) & Zach Fortin, (D) Kam River Fighting Walleye (SIJHL).

Photo credit: Thomas Perry/Timmins Daily Press