WHL AWARDS: Olen Zellweger wins Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy for Defenseman of the Year

EVERETT, Wash. — Everett Silvertips defenseman Olen Zellweger has officially been awarded the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy for Western Hockey League Defenseman of the Year.

“I’m very honored,” commented Zellweger in his acceptance speech. “I couldn’t have gotten here without my teammates, my coaching staff and everyone involved in Everett. I’d also like to thank my parents and my billet family. It was a great season and I’m very honored to have played with our team there.”

Zellweger, an ’03-born Fort Saskatchewan, AB native, joins elite company in winning the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy, with previous winners including NHL players such as 2021 winner Braden Schneider (New York Rangers), Ty Smith (2019, 2020 winner, New Jersey Devils), Shea Theodore (2015 winner, Vegas Golden Knights) and Dion Phaneuf (2004, 2005 winner, Toronto Maple Leafs). He is the first Everett Silvertip to win the award in franchise history.

“Olen did an unbelievable job for us this season,” commented Silvertips head coach/general manager Dennis Williams. “He’s worked incredibly hard to get to where he is. His attention to detail, his hockey IQ, his compete, it’s what separates him as a player. We’re very proud of all that he’s been able to accomplish.”

A second-round pick by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2021 NHL Draft, Zellweger led all Canadian Hockey League defensemen in scoring (78 points), points-per-game (1.42) and assists (64) in 55 games played. His 64 assists were second-most amongst all WHL skaters behind only Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels, and were also just three less than the Silvertips’ franchise record of 67 set by Patrick Bajkov in 2017-18. His 1.42 points-per-game average is the best by any 18-year-old WHL defenseman in 32 years, the previous high being set by Scott Niedermayer’s 1.44 average in 1990-91 with the Kamloops Blazers.

Zellweger also finished tied for third-best amongst all WHL defensemen in plus/minus (+45), tied for fourth amongst all league skaters in powerplay points (34) and tied for third amongst WHL defensemen in shots-on-goal (229). He is also one of only three U.S. Division defensemen and one of 18 league defensemen to have recorded a short-handed goal this season.

About the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy

The Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy recognizes a WHL defenseman who has demonstrated the best all-around ability at his position during the WHL Regular Season.

Born in Saskatoon, Sask., Hunter is honored for his role in the establishment and sustained success of the WHL. Dedicated and enthusiastic to growing Major Junior hockey, Hunter served as the Owner, General Manager, and Coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings in addition to being a co-founder of the league.

Along with long-time friend, the late Scotty Munro, the pair helped to lead the league’s growth through its formative years.

Winners of the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy / WHL Defenseman of the Year (since 2001)

2020-21 – Braden Schneider, Brandon Wheat Kings
2019-20 – Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs
2018-19 – Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs *
2017-18 – Kale Clague, Moose Jaw Warriors
2016-17 – Ethan Bear, Seattle Thunderbirds
2015-16 – Ivan Provorov, Brandon Wheat Kings *
2014-15 – Shea Theodore, Seattle Thunderbirds
2013-14 – Derrick Pouliot, Portland Winterhawks
2012-13 – Brenden Kichton, Spokane Chiefs
2011-12 – Alex Petrovic, Red Deer Rebels
2010-11 – Stefan Elliott, Saskatoon Blades
2009-10 – Tyson Barrie, Kelowna Rockets
2008-09 – Jonathon Blum, Vancouver Giants *
2007-08 – Karl Alzner, Calgary Hitmen *
2006-07 – Kris Russell, Medicine Hat Tigers *
2005-06 – Kris Russell, Medicine Hat Tigers
2004-05 – Dion Phaneuf, Red Deer Rebels
2003-04 – Dion Phaneuf, Red Deer Rebels
2002-03 – Jeff Woywitka, Red Deer Rebels
2001-02 – Dan Hamhuis, Prince George Cougars *
2000-01 – Christian Chartier, Prince George Cougars

* Denotes CHL Defenseman of the Year

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