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Luke James: Why Tyler Beskorownay topped my Elite League media awards ballot

The Elite League invited Luke James of British Ice Hockey to vote in its end of season media awards. In the interests of transparency, we published his ballot.

elite league roster regulations Elite League Media Awards: Tyler Beskorowany, Belfast Giants (Image: Andy Burnham)

In North America, the NHL and Professional Hockey Writers’ Association work hand-in-hand after each regular season to select the winner of each annual award. The PHWA publishes every submitted ballot in the interests of transparency, which feels like a tradition we should borrow for media awards in the Elite League.

I have covered ice hockey in the United Kingdom since the coronavirus shortened season, back when Luke Ferrara – then of the Coventry Blaze – became the first homegrown player to win the top flight scoring race, and have voted in year-end awards ever since.

Before Playoff Finals Weekend, the Elite League kindly surveyed my views across seven award categories – Most Valuable Player, Goaltender of the Season, Defenceman of the Season, Forward of the Season, British Player of the Season, Coach of the Season, and First & Second All-Star Team(s).

Elite League Media Awards: How British Ice Hockey Voted

So – here is my ballot, and the justification behind each of my votes. Gulp.

Most Valuable Player:

Scott Conway is clearly the best skater in the Elite League. Period. The 28-year-old recorded 91 points (40 goals, 51 assists) in 51 appearances for the Giants, despite spending almost an hour in the penalty box. Menacing.

Daniel Tedesco deserves credit for an impressive campaign with the Flames, logging 80 points (31 goals, 49 assists) in 53 games. The Canadian marksman was a superstar addition for Guildford, who almost propelled them to an unlikely title.

Elite League Media Awards: Daniel Tedesco, Guildford Flames (Image: John Uwins)

Elite League Media Awards: Daniel Tedesco, Guildford Flames (Image: John Uwins)

Gabe Bast snuck onto my ballot in third place, with 55 points (16 goals, 39 assists) in 51 appearances from the blueline in Belfast. However, the Canadian’s point production is secondary to his ability as a defender.

Unlike Marcus Crawford, who led Elite League defencemen in points, Bast is reliable in his own end and far less inclined to spend time in the penalty box. He was extremely effective for the Giants, playing a crucial role in their run to the league title.

Bast was therefore more ‘valuable’ to his team than high-scoring forwards David Goodwin, Brett Ferguson, or Trevor Cox and earns a place on the podium as a result.

  1. Scott Conway (BEL)
  2. Daniel Tedesco (GUI)
  3. Gabe Bast (BEL)

Goaltender of the Season:

Matthew Greenfield was exceptional for the Sheffield Steelers – but Tyler Beskorowany performed even better for the Giants.

I know this is controversial, I’m still torn, but let me explain why I opted for Beskorowany over Greenfield.

Greenfield made 53 appearances for the Steelers, recording a 2.22 goals-against average (GAA) and a .920 save percentage (SV%). Even when Sheffield malfunctioned down the stretch, the American gave his teammates the chance to win on almost every start.

Elite League Media Awards: Matthew Greenfield, Sheffield Steelers (Image: Dean Woolley)

Elite League Media Awards: Matthew Greenfield, Sheffield Steelers (Image: Dean Woolley)

Almost is the crucial word, though.

Greenfield endured a handful of regrettable appearances as the Steelers faded in the title race.

  • 1 April – .765 SV% in 5-4 win over Glasgow
  • 24 March – .800 SV% in 8-2 loss to Belfast
  • 19 March – .828 SV% in 5-4 loss to Guildford
  • 26 February – .867 SV% in 4-3 loss to Coventry
  • 25 February – .840 SV% in 5-3 loss to Coventry

Beskorowany, meanwhile, was almost faultless and only twice dipped below the .860-mark.

Greenfield ultimately made too many appearances – which obviously isn’t his fault. He faded in key moments, hence Beskorowany steals my top vote.

Jeremy Brodeur wins my third preference ballot for his sterling work in Altrincham. He was often the difference for Manchester as they beat out Dundee and Fife in the race to make the playoffs.

  1. Tyler Beskorowany (BEL)
  2. Matthew Greenfield (SHE)
  3. Jeremy Brodeur (MAN)

Defenceman of the Season:

Bast, for reasons already provided, clears Crawford in the race for my top vote – but what about the final spot on my ballot?

Ben O’Connor – who was exceptional all season for Guildford – felt like the obvious choice. He was rock solid in his own end, a helpful contributor in the offensive zone, and a key off-ice leader for a squad that punched above its weight.

Nathanael Halbert warrants an honourable mention – he captained the Blaze with poise and was dearly missed during his injury.

  1. Gabe Bast (BEL)
  2. Marcus Crawford (CAR)
  3. Ben O’Connor (GUI)

Forward of the Season:

Conway and Tedesco have been covered, which leaves us with my rogue choice at third overall – Philippe Sanche of the Dundee Stars.

Cardiff Devils - Scott Conway, Belfast Giants (Image: Dean Woolley)

Elite League Media Awards: Scott Conway, Belfast Giants (Image: Dean Woolley)

He finished eighth in the league-wide scoring race, with 60 points (24 goals, 36 assists) in 49 appearances, on a team with virtually non-existent offensive support.

Sanche earns my final vote as a result, beating out competition from David Goodwin (who loaded up on assists with Belfast) and Brett Fergurson (who was excellent for the Flames).

  1. Scott Conway (BEL)
  2. Daniel Tedesco (GUI)
  3. Philippe Sanche (DUN)

British Player of the Season:

Conway first, obviously.

O’Connor second, obviously.

Ben Lake third, sure.

Lake has been one of the most impactful players in the Elite League for a while, with his blend of physicality and finesse propelling him to middle-six dominance with the Giants. Every time the 32-year-old hits the ice, it tilts in his team’s favour.

Ben Lake, Belfast Giants (Image: William Cherry)

Elite League Media Awards: Ben Lake, Belfast Giants (Image: William Cherry)

Lake is clutch – a fact that will likely play out with Team GB later this month.

Lake third, obviously.

  1. Scott Conway (BEL)
  2. Ben O’Connor (GUI)
  3. Ben Lake (BEL)

Coach of the Season:

Adam Keefe narrowly beat Paul Dixon to my first preference vote in the Coach of the Season, namely because he overcame a rocky start to the year to win the league and cup double. (Belfast completed their first Grand Slam at Playoff Finals Weekend, but that was after the polls closed.)

Dixon deserves enormous credit for the season he directed from behind the bench in Guildford, but it is difficult to vote against the coach who has turned his club into a juggernaut.

Danny Stewart felt like the natural choice for my third preference vote after a process of elimination discounted Brodie Dupont and Aaron Fox (who underperformed with title contenders), Jeff Mason (who oversaw a sharp decline in Dundee), Gary Graham (who only lasted two months in Nottingham), and Todd Dutiaume (who missed the playoffs with Fife). Malcolm Cameron was obviously a hard ‘no’.

Danny Stewart, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)

Elite League Media Awards: Danny Stewart, Coventry Blaze (Image: Scott Wiggins)

I was therefore down to two options for my third selection – Stewart, who coached the Coventry Blaze to a sneakily impressive fifth-place finish, and Matt Ginn of the Manchester Storm.

Ultimately, I went with Stewart over Ginn – an impressive rookie coach – because Coventry were consistent week-in and week-out, finishing just a handful of points back from the top four.

  1. Adam Keefe (BEL)
  2. Paul Dixon (GUI)
  3. Danny Stewart (COV)

All-Star Teams:

With that in mind, here are my first and second all-star teams:

  • First: Beskorowany; Bast – Crawford; Conway – Tedesco – Sanche.
  • Second: Greenfield; O’Connor – Halbert; Lake – Goodwin – Ferguson.

If you would like to discuss my ballot, I’m @LukeJames_32 on Twitter.

Elite League Media Awards: How would you have voted? Join the discussion in the replies! 

Elite League Media Awards, Elite League Media Awards, Elite League Media Awards

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