Hitmen star Alzner cops league top player and defenceman honours
John Down, Calgary Herald
Published: Thursday, May 01, 2008
Karl Alzner killed some time Tuesday by taking a few cars for test drives.
Hopefully, one of them was a truck because the 19-year-old continued to pick up more accolades and trophies Wednesday when he was named the Western Hockey League's top player and defenceman of the year during the annual awards luncheon.
The Calgary Hitmen captain beat out Calgarian T.J. Fast of the Tri-City Americans for the defensive award and Brocket, Alta.'s Colton Yellow Horn, also of the Americans, for the prestigious Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as player of the year.
Calgary Hitmen standout Karl Alzner shows off his hardware as the WHL player of year and defenceman of the year at the league awards news conference Wednesday in Calgary.
Ted Jacob, Calgary Herald
A two-time gold medallist with Canada at the world junior championships, including this year when he captained the team, Alzner becomes the WHL's nominee for Canadian Hockey League player of the year.
"It's incredibly nice to be honoured for something like this," smiled the product of Burnaby, B.C. "A guy I respect so much, Kris Russell (Medicine Hat defenceman), did it the year before, so I'm happy to be following in his footsteps."
Alzner is the third Hitman to win player of the year, following goaltender Justin Pogge in 2006 and forward Brad Moran in 2000.
The 2007 National Hockey League first-round (fifth overall) draft choice of the Washington Capitals said he had a slight feeling prior to the announcements he might be in line for both awards when he looked over at the Tri-City table and only saw goalie Chet Pickard in attendance.
"But you never want to get your hopes up. This is a nice consolation, though, to be able to win something without being able to win the league championship or the Memorial Cup, which are the big things you want to win when you come into the league," he said.
"So I'm going to have to come back for one more year if I want to win those."
Although he has yet to sign with the Capitals, no one is expecting the first team Eastern Conference all-star to play his final WHL season. Not that it would bother him one way or another.
"I've been waiting almost a year now . . . it's all in the hands of my agents," he said of negotiations with the Caps.
His junior career itself, he said, has been a blur.
"It's gone by too quick," he said. "You know, I was just 16 the other day and I've gotten the opportunity to see so much, do so much. I've learned from so many coaches and players . . . it's been such a fun four years.
"If it was my last year, then I'm very sad, but if I come back, I'll be very happy."
Alzner was taken in the second round of the 2003 bantam draft, behind Keegan Dansereau, but the Hitmen weren't sure just how good the six-foot-two, 210-pounder was going to be until the 2004 Teddy Bear Toss game.
The club was down to four defenceman and brought in the 15-year-old on an emergency basis.
"There were 12,000 to 13,000 people in the stands, he took a regular shift and didn't miss a beat," recalled head coach and general manager Kelly Kisio. "Stepping into a situation like that, we knew we were in for a very good player.
"He's been easy to coach. It's very gratifying the way he handles himself, conducts himself. You'd like to think he's a reflection of us, but I think it's quite a bit a reflection of his family, how he's brought up and how mature he is.
"He's a prototypical pro. He's handled himself like a pro and will be a very good pro."
© The Calgary Herald 2008