The Canadian Men’s and Women’s National Program Players of the Year and Top Goals Scorers were announced and honoured at an event Tuesday night in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Winning the Senior Player of the Year award is David Carter for the men, and Brienne Stairs for the women. Balraj Panesar (men) and Stephanie Norlander (women) took Junior Player of the Year honours, while Scott Tupper, Norlander and Thea Culley were Top Goal Scorers for their respective programs.
David Carter – 2015 Men’s National Team Player of the Year
Carter’s year was incredibly memorable and was highlighted by his performance at the 2015 International Hockey Federation (FIH) World League Semifinal in Argentina. Commentators regarded his performance at the tournament as the best individual goalkeeping performance they had ever seen.
The Canadians upset the New Zealand Blacksticks in the tournament quarterfinal, a win which would eventually earn Canada a spot at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Brienne Stairs – 2015 Women’s National Team Player of the Year
Brienne Stairs has become a perennial contender for the Women’s National Team awards, having won Top Goal Scorer honours in 2014.
Last year, not only was she a threat offensively, creating offense from both the forward and midfield position, and was a leader both on and off the field.
Stairs’ year was capped by scoring the winning goal in the bronze medal match at the 2015 Pan American Games, giving the Canadian their first medal at the Games since 1999.
Scott Tupper – 2015 Men’s National Team Top Goal Scorer
Team captain Scott Tupper had an historic year, scoring a whopping 14 international goals.
He played in his 200th international match for Canada while at World League Round 2 and scored a hat trick in that very game, leading his team to a win in the quarterfinal against Italy.
Tupper was clinical in the dragflick position and cemented his spot as one of the world’s best flickers.
His defensive prowess and leadership shone through at the World League Round 3 in Argentina, and his goal scoring was once again on display at the 2015 Pan American Games and Hockey World League Final in India later in 2015.
Stephanie Norlander, Thea Culley – 2015 Women’s National Team Top Goal Scorers
With eight goals a piece, Stephanie Norlander and Thea Culley tied as Women’s National Team top goal scorers in 2015. Both Norlander and Culley started the year off on a positive note at World League Round 2 in Ireland, where Norlander scored in two consecutive shootouts to help Canada advance to the World League Semifinal.
The two continued to score big goals and lead the Canadian women to victory and the bronze medal at the Pan Am Games.
Stephanie Norlander – 2015 Women’s National Team Junior Player of the Year
Norlander, who scored a hat-trick in the opening game win at the Pan Am Games, was also named Junior Player of the Year as her stellar year came as a junior playing at the senior level.
Balraj Panesar – 2015 Men’s National Team Junior Player of the Year
In 2014, Balraj Panesar was part of the Under-18 men’s team that won silver at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. He followed up in 2015 leading the way as the Junior Men’s National Team began its preparation for a big 2016.
Panesar, the younger brother of senior National Team member Sukhi, was a part of the Canadian junior squad that swept the Americans in a four-game series last summer.
He also gained a fair amount of senior experience during the year and will undoubtedly be counted on as the Junior Men’s National Team aims for a Junior World Cup spot at the 2016 Junior Men’s Pan American Championship in Toronto, Ontario this May.
International achievements also recognized
Field Hockey Canada also honoured athletes who were recognized with international accolades in 2015.
On the men’s side, David Carter was named Player and Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the 2015 International Hockey Federation (FIH) World League Semifinal in Buenos Aires, Argentina. His performance led the Canadians to a fourth place finish at the tournament.
Additionally, Carter was joined by teammate Sukhi Panesar as one of the FIH’s 2015 Hockey Stars nominees. The Hockey Stars are the international body’s annual award recognizing the world’s best player in their position.
Carter was nominated for Goalkeeper of the Year and Panesar was nominated for Rising Star of the Year.
On the women’s side, Hannah Haughn and Kaitlyn Williams were recognized for winning Top Young Player and Top Goalkeeper of the Tournament, respectively, at World League Round 2 in Ireland.
Also honoured at Tuesday’s event were the member’s of the Canadian Men’s and Women’s National Team named to the Pan American Hockey Federation’s 2015 Elite Team.
PAHF names an Elite Team every two years and seven Canadians were recognized in 2015. Carter, Adam Froese, Gabriel Ho-Garcia, and Scott Tupper made the men’s team, and Stairs, Abigail Raye and Karli Johansen were named to the women’s team.