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The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Belleville Bulls forward Tyler Graovac is the 2012-13 recipient of the William Hanley Trophy awarded to the OHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year.
Graovac led the Bulls with 38 goals and 35 assists for 73 points in 60 games which placed him tied for 18th overall in OHL scoring. He also recorded just 18 penalty minutes which was the lowest amount for any player listed among the top 20 scorers.
“I think it’s important to respect your teammates and opponents on and off the ice,” Graovac said. “With hockey being a contact sport, it can be tough to maintain that balance of competitiveness and respect, but my game has never been centered on talk after the whistle. I’ve tried to just keep my focus on the play from faceoff to faceoff, utilize my linemates and let my game speak for itself.”
Graovac becomes the third member of the Bulls to win the award following Kyle Wellwood in 2002-03, and Jason Lafreniere in 1985-86.
“It’s kind of cool, I’ve never been nominated for an award in the league and I’m very thankful that I'm able to receive this honour,” Graovac added. “Coming to Belleville has been a great step and a smooth transition thanks to the coaching staff, players, and media here. They really went out of their way to help me settle in.”
The 19-year-old Brampton, ON, native is in his fourth OHL season and joined the Bulls midway through 2012-13 after spending more than three years as a member of the Ottawa 67’s who chose him in the third round of the 2009 Priority Selection. This season he more than doubled his previous career-highs in all offensive categories and was recognized as having the second Best Shot and being the third Most Dangerous in the Goal Area as determined by the Eastern Conference Coaches Poll. He also suited up for Team OHL in the SUBWAY Super Series and earned Player of the Game honours with a goal despite the OHL’s 2-1 loss to Russia November 8 in Guelph. The recently signed Minnesota Wild prospect was selected in the seventh round of the 2011 NHL Draft.
“Tyler’s been a terrific acquisition for our hockey club,” said Bulls General Manager and Head Coach George Burnett. “He prides himself on playing with excellent discipline but is very effective at both ends of the rink. His offensive numbers speak for themselves. His experience in this league has been a valuable asset to our club and he’s a guy who has managed to combine a high compete level with maintaining a reputation as a player who shows respect for his opponents throughout the league.
The William Hanley Trophy is awarded each year based on a selection by the 20 General Managers of the Ontario Hockey League. Teams are not permitted to vote for their own candidate with players receiving five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.. The trophy is presented by the OHL to commemorate William Hanley, former Secretary-Manager of the Ontario Hockey Association for over 25 years..
Graovac received 43 points in the voting process just one point ahead of Rookie of the Year Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters who was runner-up with 42 voting points. Seth Griffith of the London Knights finished in third place with 39 voting points.
Former winners of the William Hanley Trophy include Wayne Gretzky (Sault Ste. Marie 1977-78), Brian Campbell (Ottawa 1998-99), Brad Boyes (Erie 2000-01 and 2001-02), Jeff Carter (Sault Ste. Marie 2004-05), Wojtek Wolski (Brampton 2005-06), and Cody Hodgson (Brampton 2008-09). Chicago Blackhawks rookie Brandon Saad won the award last season as a member of the Saginaw Spirit.
Graovac will be presented with the William Hanley Trophy at the 2012-13 OHL Awards Ceremony set for Tuesday June 4 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He will also be the OHL’s nominee for Sportsman of the Year at the Annual CHL Awards in May.