A former 100 Mile House Wrangler hockey player was named Top Goaltender of the Canadian Junior Hockey League for the 2016-2017 season.
Nipawin Hawks goalie Kristian Stead added the award to his collection of honours from the season where he was selected as both Top Goaltender and Most Valuable Player for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).
“It was obviously a huge honour and I was very humbled from it,” he says. “I felt my success came from the people I surrounded myself with, beginning in 100 Mile and in Nipawin. It was mostly by teammates and coaches. Without them, I wouldn’t have got that. So [I’m] very proud and very humbled.”
Hailing from Merrit, B.C., Stead played for the Wranglers for two seasons from 2013-2015. The 20-year-old has spent the past two years in Nipawin.
“I’m not surprised Kristian was recognized at a high level and yet I’m really impressed that it was nationally recognized,” says Dale Hladun, who coached Stead for his last season with the Wranglers.
“Kristian’s a good goalie but to be recognized across Canada, that’s powerful. It’s a big feather in his cap. He’s worked hard and he deserves that accolade.”
Stead lead the SJHL in wins and shared a top spot with his save percentage at .936. He finished his junior career with a regular season goals against average of 1.97.
In playoffs, Stead’s goals against average was 1.91 and came in with a save percentage of .946 — leading the league for goalies who played more than 180 minutes
Stead will attend the University of Alaska-Anchorage in the fall on a NCAA Div 1 scholarship where he hopes to further his hockey career and his education.
“I’d like to take my career as far as I can and I think I’ve been given a great opportunity to do so,” he says.
Hladun says that it’s not just talent and style that players need to reach Stead’s level.
“The kids have to want it and it has to be in them. They have to work hard off the ice. They don’t need coaches and trainers hounding them to do it, they need those guys guiding them to do it and it has to be intrinsic,” he says. “Good for Kristian to stay with his goals, stay with his dreams, no matter where he had to go to get it and he got it.”
For Stead’s part, he says he couldn’t have done it without the support from both the Hawks and the Wranglers.
“I think the KIJHL is an excellent development league and my time in 100 Mile was a good way to get my foot in the door in the hockey world. Definitely 100 Mile is a wonderful place to play,” he says.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had in both towns.”