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Locals: Chiefs’ forward Eli Zummack earns WHL Most Sportsmanlike Award

UPDATED: Mon., June 14, 2021

Eli Zummack (29) of the Spokane Chiefs zips down the ice against the Everett Silvertips during a WHL game at the Spokane Arena on Oct. 6, 2019.  (Libby Kamrowski)
Eli Zummack (29) of the Spokane Chiefs zips down the ice against the Everett Silvertips during a WHL game at the Spokane Arena on Oct. 6, 2019. (Libby Kamrowski)
From staff and wire reports

From staff and wire reports

Eli Zummack is in select company.

The 21-year-old forward, who played his entire junior career in Spokane, is the fourth Chiefs player to receive the Brad Hornung Trophy as the Western Hockey League’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.

Spokane’s 33rd captain collected only four minutes in penalties in 21 games while seeing major ice time as one of the Chiefs’ top players. He follows Tyler Johnson (2010-11), Steve Junker (1991-92) and Pat Falloon (1990-91) as award recipients.

The trophy is named for a rising star in the Regina Pats organization, known for his talent, desire and sportsmanlike attitude, whose career was ended by a hit in a game on March 1, 1987, that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Zummack, who also received the same award in the U.S. Division, was second on the team in scoring with 22 points, including a team-leading 13 assists. Spokane’s second-round selection in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft played 276 regular-season and playoff games in five seasons in Spokane, receiving just 61 penalty minutes.

Other 2020-21 WHL award winners:

Dustin Wolf, Everett Silvertips, Goaltender of the Year; Braden Schneider, Brandon Wheat Kings, Defenseman of the Year; Ethan Peters, Edmonton Oil Kings, Scholastic Player of the Year; Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg ICE, Top Scorer (43 points) and Player of the Year; Jim Piggott, Regina Pats forward, Rookie of the Year.

• Former Chiefs captain Jaret Anderson-Dolan, in his second season with the Los Angeles Kings, collected a gold medal when Team Canada won the 2021 IIHF World Championship on June 6 in Riga, Latvia, defeating Finland 3-2 in overtime in the final.

Anderson-Dolan registered two assists in 10 games for the Canadians, who won six of their last seven games to become the first team in history to win gold after losing four games.

• The Chiefs were drawn in a lottery to select sixth in the 2021 CHL Import Draft on June 30.


Jacinta Buckley, the Greater Spokane League MVP as a senior at Lewis and Clark HS in 2018-19 who has spent the last two seasons at UNLV, is transferring to Eastern Washington University as one of the first two recruits to join new EWU women’s head coach Joddie Gleason.

The 6-foot-1 guard played in all 24 games for the Rebels as a sophomore, averaging 2.5 ppg and 11.3 minutes per game. As a freshman, she played in 28 games, averaged seven minutes a game and compiled 47 points, 34 rebounds and six steals.

She played basketball all four years at LC, where she led the Tigers to a second-place State 4A finish in 2018-19 and was named first team All-State.

Joining Buckley at Eastern will be freshman Jaleesa Lawrence, a 5-10 All-State wing from Meridian, Idaho, who averaged 18.8 ppg and 7.6 rpg as a senior.

• The University of Idaho has added two transfer guards from Grand Canyon University to its men’s basketball team, 6-foot-5 Rashad Smith and 6-2 Mikey Dixon.

Smith played 11 games for the Antelopes in 2020-21, scoring in double figures twice for the 17-7 team that won the Western Athletic Conference tournament before falling to No. 2-seeded Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to GCU, Smith played two seasons at Pima Community College, averaging 18.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg and 5.7 apg as a sophomore in 2019-20. His 171 assists ranked 14th in NJCAA Division II.

Idaho is the fourth stop for Dixon during his college career, the last two seasons at GCU.

He started at Quinnipiac, where he was the 2016-17 Metro Atlantic Conference rookie of the year (16.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.3 apg); went to St. John’s, where he sat out a season under NCAA transfer rules before playing in 2018-19 (5.9 ppg); then arrived at GCU, starting 22 games for the Lopes In 2020-21 (8.3 ppg).

College scene

Nick Merkel of Spokane turned his first year at Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri, into a memorable All-America season.

The former Ferris HS and Community Colleges of Spokane baseball standout had a record-breaking junior year for the Eagles, leading them to a conference title and pitching them into the championship game of the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, where they lost 8-6 to Georgia Gwinnett. Second is the school’s best finish in program history.

Merkel was named to the NAIA Baseball Coaches Association and American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings All-America second teams, the NAIA World Series All-Tournament Team and the Heart of America Conference Pitcher of the Year after a 10-0 regular season and 1.82 ERA.

He won four playoff games, including two in the World Series that he capped with an 8-5 semifinal win over Lewis-Clark State, and set several notable school single-season records, including strikeouts (125), wins (14) and innings pitched (962/3). The 14 victories tied a teammate for most wins the nation. He finished the year with a 2.14 ERA.

Gabriel Hughes, Gonzaga’s double-duty right-handed pitcher/first baseman, was named to Collegiate Baseball’s Freshman All-America Team as a Multiple Position Athlete.

The All-West Coast Conference second-team pick and conference All-Freshmen selection despite missing the last month of the season with an injury hit .247 with four doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs. As a pitcher, the 6-4 right-hander was 4-3 as the Bulldogs’ Saturday starter with a 3.23 ERA, striking out 67 in 611/3 innings.

Jaya Allen of Spokane, whose pitching and hitting were instrumental in getting Dickinson (North Dakota) State into the NAIA Softball Tournament, was named to the NAIA Region III first team and NAIA Softball All-America honorable mention.

The former Shadle Park HS standout had an 18-6 overall record with 166 strike outs in 1631/3 innings while walking only 13. She ranked fourth in NAIA Division I in walks per nine innings (0.56) and seventh in ERA (1.07). While the junior was honored for her pitching, she also finished with a .351 batting average, 34 hits, 10 doubles, four home runs and 27 RBIs.

“Jaya is one of the best pitchers to put on a Blue Hawk softball uniform,” Dickinson State head coach Kristen Fleury said of the two-time North Star Athletic Association first-team selection. “She has had so much to do with our team’s success the past couple seasons. This is a great honor for her.”

Daniel Roy of Spokane, a Stanford junior, is in Omaha, Nebraska, this week for the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, trying to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

The Gonzaga Prep graduate has entered his specialty, the 200m breaststroke, as well as the 100m breast and 200m individual medley. The Trials run eight days, Sunday through Sunday, June 20.

• Gonzaga pitcher Alek Jacob, who was dominant in his only appearance, and shortstop Ernie Yake, who was consistent in the field and at the plate, were named to the NCAA Baseball All-Eugene Regional Team.

Jacob pitched a complete-game four-hitter, striking out nine, in a 3-0 first-game win over eventual regional winner Louisiana State. Yake went 6 for 12 with three runs, one RBI and doubled in each of the three games as he led the Zags in hits in the postseason.

• Eastern Washington senior linebacker Jack Sendelbach was named to the 23rd Academic All-Star Team as selected by the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Athletic Directors Association.

Sendelbach, who will enter his seventh season in the Eagles’ program this fall, graduated following spring quarter in 2019 with a 3.37 GPA in marketing, and is now in a graduate program for sport and recreation administration with a 3.97 GPA.

• Women’s pole vaulters Morgan Fossen and Katrina Terry each received two honors when the Eastern Washington cross country and track & field programs handed out team awards.

NCAA Championships qualifier Fossen and Terry both received a most improved award for the women while Fossen also was selected most inspirational woman and Terry was named Top Gun in women’s track and field.

Other award winners:

Women: Rosalie Folger-Vent and Emmanuella Engle, Scholar-Athlete; Vernice Keyes, Chloe DiBisceglie and Alyssa Hoffman, Most Improved; Kaylin Sheley, Top Gun XC.

Men: Jayce Freeman, Scholar-Athlete; Justin Roosma, Bobby Say, Daniel Gaik, Colton Kautz and Gavin Lee, Most Improved; Dawson Lack, Most Inspirational; Parker Bowden, Coaches Award; Carter Ledwith, Top Gun XC; Joe Gauthir, Top Gun TF.

2021-22 captains: Ronan Price and Megan Pitzman, cross country/distance; Quintin Porterfield and Maggie Nelson, jumpers; Kautz and Keyes, throwers; Hoffman and Gauthier, sprints/hurdles.

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