Derek Sheppard (Ajax, Ont.), a third-year defenceman from the York Lions, was named the West Division MVP and Defenceman of the Year in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) men's hockey on Wednesday afternoon.
Other OUA major award recipients were also announced, including Sheppard's Lions teammate and goaltender Mack Shields (Saskatoon, Sask.) who was named Rookie of the Year; Ryerson Rams standout Aaron Armstrong (Teeswater, Ont.) has earned the Randy Gregg Award for outstanding achievement in hockey, academics and community involvement; Andrew Fritsch (Brantford, Ont.) from the Laurier Golden Hawks who was named Most Sportsmanlike; and Lions bench boss Chris Dennis, who is the OUA Coach of the Year for a second straight season.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER / DEFENCEMAN OF THE YEAR: Derek Sheppard, York
Sheppard becomes just the fourth York player to be named OUA MVP since 1988 and the first since former Lion Derek Dolson captured the award following the 2002-03 season.
The 6-foot-1, 215 lbs defenceman led his position with 32 points while appearing in all 28 games during the regular season with the Lions. Hailing from nearby Ajax, Ont., Sheppard also finished first in goals (12) and second in assists (20) by a defenceman.
Now in his second year of studying History at York University, Sheppard also led all blueliners with four game-winning goals for the Lions this season.
Sheppard was also named an OUA first-team all-star for a second consecutive season.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Mack Shields, York
In just his first season in the OUA, York Lions goaltender Mack Shields led the league with a 1.78 goals against average and finished tied for second with a .930 save percentage.
Shields, an Administrative Studies student-athlete, appeared in 20 of the Lions 28 games during the regular season and finished second in the conference with 13 wins. The Saskatoon, Sask. native also picked up a pair of shutouts this season and led the Lions to a 18-6-4 record and a second place finish in the division.
Prior to joining York, the 6-foot-3, 195 lbs goaltender played with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL. Shields joins the aforementioned Dolson as the only Lions player to be named OUA West Division Rookie of the Year and first since he won the award in 2003.
RANDY GREGG AWARD: Aaron Armstrong, Ryerson
For his accomplishments in the classroom, around the local community and on the ice, Ryerson Rams forward Aaron Armstrong is this year's recipient of the Randy Gregg Award.
As an ambassador for the Rams hockey program, athletics department and Ryerson University, Armstrong leads by example in all facets of his life, both on and off the ice. A U SPORTS Academic All-Canadian, Armstrong tutors and mentors his teammates, aiding and motivating those around him to achieve their full academic potential.
In the community, Armstrong, along with other members of the Rams hockey team, regularly volunteer at Regent Park Arena where they teach a developmentally disabled class from Nelson Mandela public school how to skate. A mental health advocate, Armstrong is an active member of Ryerson's SAMHI team where he shares stories from his experience of coaching youth to help increase awareness. Since 2015, Armstrong has been heavily involved with Light Patrol and "Curb Light," where he hands out clothing, food and coffee to the homeless youth in Toronto's downtown core.
Following the season, Armstrong will be traveling to Cambodia in May with five other Rams student-athletes where he'll be volunteering at local schools, running sports programs and providing day care for mothers with young children so they are able to work. When he returns to Canada, Armstrong is planning on running a hockey school for low income children who could not normally afford to attend.
Armstrong becomes the first player in program history to win the prestigious Randy Gregg Award.
MOST SPORTSMANLIKE: Andrew Fritsch, Laurier
Laurier Golden Hawks forward Andrew Fritsch has been selected as the OUA West Division Most Sportsmanlike Player after he finished the season with just one minor penalty.
Fritsch, who transferred from St. Thomas University prior to the start of the season, established himself as one of the most disciplined players in the conference while playing on Golden Hawks team that committed the fourth fewest penalties during the regular season.
Over the course of his three-year U SPORTS career, Fritsch has only spent eight minutes total in the penalty box since the 2014-15 season.
In his first season in the OUA, Fritsch was also named an OUA second-team all-star after he led the Golden Hawks with 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 28 games this season.
The Brantford, Ont. native becomes the first Laurier player to win the honours since former Golden Hawk Matt Grennier was recognized following the 2007-08 season.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Chris Dennis, York
For the second season in a row, York head coach Chris Dennis has been named the OUA West Division Coach of the Year after he led the Lions to an 18-6-4 regular season record and a second place finish in the division.
The 15th coach in program history, Dennis has now earned the honours in each of his first two seasons behind the Lions bench.
A season ago, the York alumnus led the Lions to a first-place finish in the OUA West Division, engineering a worst-to-first turnaround after the team finished in last place in 2014-15.
Dennis, who spent over 10 years with the Toronto Maple Leafs before joining the Lions, becomes the first coach to earn the award in back-to-back seasons since current Mustangs head coach Clarke Singer was recognized in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
OUA ALL-STAR AND ALL-ROOKIE TEAMS
Both the OUA West Division first- and second-team all-stars, as well as the OUA all-rookies were also announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Alongside York's Derek Sheppard and Mack Shields, as well as Ryerson's Aaron Armstong, Rams forward Michael Fine (Toronto, Ont.) and defenceman Alex Basso (Toronto, Ont.), in addition to Andrew Radjenovic (Hamilton, Ont.) from the Brock Badgers have been named OUA first-team all-stars.
Joining Laurier's Andrew Fritsch on the OUA second team are Guelph's Robert Lepine (Killaloe, Ont.) and Mackenzie Nicol (Listowel, Ont.), Trevor Petersen (Thornhill, Ont.) from the Lions, Waterloo Warriors defenceman Mike Moffat (Waterloo, Ont.) and Ryerson Rams rookie goaltender Charlie Graham (Toronto, Ont.).
In addition to the OUA West Rookie of the Year Mack Shields, Ryerson's Matt Mistele (Whitby, Ont.) and Josh Sterk (Arthur, Ont.), Warriors forward Zac Coulter (Owen Sound, Ont.), along with defencemen Todd Ratchford (Caledonia, Ont.) from Windsor and Lakehead's Patrick Murphy (St. Catherines, Ont.) have been named to the OUA all-rookie team.
OUA Major Award Winners
Most Valuable Player: Derek Sheppard – Defence – York Lions
Rookie of the Year: Mack Shields – Forward – York Lions
Randy Gregg Award of Merit: Aaron Armstong – Forward – Ryerson Rams
Most Sportsmanlike Award: Andrew Fritsch – Forward – Laurier Golden Hawks
Defenceman of the Year: Derek Sheppard – Defence – York Lions
Coach of the Year: Chris Dennis – York Lions
OUA First-Team All-Stars
Aaron Armstong – Forward – Ryerson Rams
Michael Fine – Forward – Ryerson Rams
Andrew Radjenovic – Forward – Brock Badgers
Derek Sheppard – Defence – York Lions
Alex Basso – Defence – Ryerson Rams
Mack Shields – Goaltender – York Lions
OUA Second-Team All-Stars
Robert Lepine – Forward – Guelph Gryphons
Andrew Fritsch – Forward – Laurier Golden Hawks
Trevor Petersen – Forward – York Lions
Mike Moffat – Defence – Waterloo Warriors
Mackenzie Nicol – Defence – Guelph Gryphons
Charlie Graham – Goaltender – Ryerson Rams
OUA All-Rookie Team
Matt Mistele – Forward – Ryerson Rams
Josh Sterk – Forward – Ryerson Rams
Zac Coulter – Forward – Waterloo Warriors
Todd Ratchford – Defence – Windsor Lancers
Patrick Murphy – Defence – Lakehead Thunderwolves
Mack Shields – Goaltender – York Lions