Mid-season Scoring leader: Sarah Vaillancourt, Montreal, 14 points (9 on power play)
Mid-season Scoring leader among defenders: Cathy Chartrand, Montreal, 10 points
Mid-season Rookie scoring leader: Jill Cardella, Boston, 10 points
Mid-season Goaltending leader: Meghan Corley-Byrne, Montreal, 1.30 GAA
Most Valuable Player: Carolyne Prevost, Toronto
With due deference to the players on Boston and Montreal, no player has had as much importance to her team as Prevost. The rationale in determining an MVP is how would the team perform without this individual?
Having logged 6 power play points, Prevost’s zero penalty minutes reflects highly disciplined play. Of note, she is one of only three CWHLers in the Top 20 scorers with no penalty minutes.
Her 10 points (five goals, five assists) reflects consistent play for a team that is fending off an improving Brampton squad. With the absence of scoring sensations Johnston, Wakefield and Spooner, her leadership and experience have proven to be essential.
Best Defender: Cathy Chartrand, Montreal
Proving that her sparkling rookie season was no fluke, Cathy Chartrand is building on that strong momentum. Having already accumulated 10 points this season, including four goals, her offensive prowess is setting the tone for a talented Stars team.
Perhaps more impressive is the fact that her rating of +10 leads all players in the league. The overall consistency of her play is highlighted with her remarkable contributions on special teams. Four power play points, one short-handed goal and two game-winning goals are putting Montreal in the Clarkson Cup picture.
Best Goaltender: Catherine Herron, Montreal
A second generation star (her uncle Denis played for the Pittsburgh Penguins), Catherine Herron has alleviated the woes of losing Charline Labonte to the Canadian Winter Games team. Shining between the pipes for the club, her 4-1 mark is complemented by two shutouts, which leads the league. As her goals against average of 1.40 GAA ranks second best, she and Corley-Byrne are providing Montreal with the best goaltending in the league.
Unsung hero of the first half: Sonja van der Bliek, Brampton
With the unenviable task of replacing star goalies such as Florence Schelling and Liz Knox, Sonja van der Bliek has risen to the occasion. A workhorse goaltender, she has posted a respectable 3-3-1 mark with a 2.35 GAA. Of note, her 192 saves rank second among all CWHL backstops while her league high 433:41 minutes is testament to her efforts.
Best captain: Cathy Chartrand, Montreal
When CWHL co-founder Liz Breton appoints a player to assume her captaincy, it is more than a tremendous honor but a symbol of respect. Chartrand has lived up to those expectations. A former captain with the McGill Martlets, her maturity and acumen have been crucial in setting a positive example for a team with over 10 rookies.
Most Inspiring Player of the first half: Sami Jo Small, Toronto,
While she is not a captain, CWHL co-founder Sami Jo Small is an integral part of the league on and off the ice. Sharing goaltending duties with Christina Kessler, it has proven to be a renaissance year for Small. Her 3 wins and sparkling 1.92 GAA prove that she is only getting better with age.
Most Outstanding Rookie: (Tie) Casey Pickett and Brittney Ott, Boston
A hometown hero who played in the first outdoor NCAA women’s hockey game, Casey Pickett is proving to be one of the shrewdest picks in the 2013 CWHL Draft. Of note, her seven goals not only leads all rookies, but all players. Tied for the league lead with 2 game winning goals, she is making believers out of fans and cynics alike.
Filling in for Clarkson Cup champion goaltenders such as Kelli Stack and Genevieve Lacasse is a very tough act to follow. With a record of 4-0-0, Brittany Ott looks like a veteran between the pipes. Firmly entrenched among the league’s upper tier of goaltending leaders, her impressive showing has helped the black and gold remain one of the league’s finest clubs.
Best Coach: Digit Murphy, Boston
With the loss of her top players to Centralization camps, Digit Murphy faced having a Boston franchise lacking veteran experience and many fresh faces. Compounding the loss was the retirements of leaders such as Caitlin Cahow, Molly Engstrom and Jaclyn Hawkins.
Despite such setbacks, Digit Murphy has shined as the Blades bench boss. Through her strong coaching skills, she has developed a well-rounded team. Rookies such as Pickett, Ott, Jillian Dempsey, Jill Cardella and Blake Bolden have provided solid play, providing much needed depth. As the Blades 27 goals for leads the league, it is testament to Murphy’s ability to motivate and inspire.
Photo credit: Jess Desjardins