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Locally: Former Spokane Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz wins WHL Governors Award

May 16, 2022 Updated Mon., May 16, 2022 at 9:08 p.m.

Tim Speltz, former general manager of the Spokane Chiefs, waves to the crowd after being introduced at the game where former Chief Tyler Johnson's number was retired Friday, Feb. 4, 2022 at the Spokane Arena.  (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
Tim Speltz, former general manager of the Spokane Chiefs, waves to the crowd after being introduced at the game where former Chief Tyler Johnson's number was retired Friday, Feb. 4, 2022 at the Spokane Arena. (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)
By From staff and news services

It was awards week for the Spokane Chiefs.

Last week the team named winners of its annual player awards, and the Western Hockey League announced that former longtime Chiefs general manager and governor Tim Speltz was the recipient of the 2022 WHL Governors Award.

Graham Sward collected two honors, the John “Hitman” Hern Defenseman of the Year and Humanitarian of the Year, and goalie Mason Beaupit was the Chiefs’ Player of the Year when individual recipients were announced.

Sward, an 18-year-old in his third season with the Chiefs, had career highs in goals (10), assists (33) and points (43) that led the team defensemen. His assists were third on the team, 19 of them coming on power plays. His 24 points on power plays was second on the team. He was among the top 15 defensemen in the league in goals and points and in the top 10 in assists.

The humanitarian honor came mainly because of a couple of cancer fund-raising efforts he either initiated or supported in memory of his grandfather, who died of cancer last year. Sward is the U.S. Division nominee for WHL Humanitarian of the Year.

The 6-foot-5 Beaupit not only was stellar in goal for the Chiefs, but stood out in the late-season CHL Top Prospects Game. He stopped all 16 shots he faced in a 3-1 victory. The 18-year-old had a 20-22-3-1 record with a 3.63 goals-against average and .893 save percentage for the Chiefs.

On the last day of the regular season, with Spokane needing a win to clinch a playoff spot, Beaupit stopped 35 of 37 shots to help secure a 4-2 win at Victoria.

Saige Weinstein, 16, a defenseman and one of 10 first-year skaters on the team, was Rookie of the Year. He finished third in scoring with 14 points, 13 of them assists, and appeared in the second-most games (59).

Captain Bear Hughes, 20, was chosen the Ken Rabel Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year, named for a security guard who manned the Chiefs’ bench in the team’s years in the Coliseum and especially appreciated players who played the game honestly and hard. Hughes was the Chiefs’ leading scorer (24 goals, 67 points).

The Post Falls native also was selected by his peers as the team’s Players’ Player.

The Scholastic Player of the Year is rookie Jake Gudelj, 16, who took a number of online high school courses, completing physics and social studies programs with an average score of 95% the first semester. He’s taking chemistry and accounting the second semester.

“Jake’s academic performance, especially as a WHL rookie, is extraordinary,” said Chiefs education coordinator Joe Everson.

The governors’ award Speltz received is the highest honor the WHL bestows on an individual who has been associated with the league and goes annually to an individual who has impacted the growth and development of the WHL.

Following 26 seasons as general manager of the Chiefs, Speltz joined the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2016-17 season as the NHL team’s director of western area scouting. In 2018-19, he was promoted to head of the team’s amateur scouting, which he held for three seasons before being named general manager of the Maple Leafs’ Henderson Silver Knights in the AHL.

“Tim has become one of the most respected individuals in all of hockey,” said Bobby Brett, owner and managing partner of the Chiefs. “His leadership has helped numerous coaches, players, and staff become better at their positions, whether that’s in the game or personal lives.

“He helped take the Chiefs to a new level and turned the franchise into one of the top teams and businesses in the CHL. The WHL is better for having Tim involved and he has helped the WHL become the top junior league in the world.”

• Beaupit and Sward improved their draft status when the NHL Central Scouting Service revealed its final rankings before the July 7-8 2022 NHL draft. Beaupit climbed to fifth from seventh among North American goalies and Sward to 93 from 148 among North American skaters.

Chiefs’ international prospect David Jiricek, a defenseman from the Czech Republic, who spent the season in his native country, remained fifth on the list of international skaters.

Four other Chiefs prospects are also on North American lists: Goalie Paxton Geisel, 19; skaters Jake Livanavage, 54; Garrett Brown, 102; and Carson Buyden, 167.

College scene

Haley Loffer, College of Idaho’s senior shortstop from Lake City HS, came in for a couple of honors last week. She was the Cascade Collegiate Conference softball player of the week for May 2-8 for her performance in the conference tournament and was named to the 2021-22 CoSIDA Academic NAIA All-District 4 softball team with a 3.40 GPA.

Loffer had at least one hit and one stolen base in all six playoff games, finishing the tournament with 11 hits, nine runs scored, nine stolen bases and a .550 batting average as the Coyotes finished second to defending champion Oregon Tech on a 1-0 loss in eight innings . The academic honor gets her on the ballot for the Academic All-America team.

Ryan Clay, Corban University’s freshman third baseman from Central Valley, was named to the All-CCC baseball first team, where he was joined by two Lewis-Clark State seniors from Lewiston, first baseman Luke White and shortstop Riley Way. Way was also the Golden Glove winner for his position.

Clay and White also were named to the 2021-22 CoSIDA NAIA Academic All-District 4 baseball team and are eligible for selection to the Academic All-America team. Clay has a 3.86 GPA and White a 3.40.

• Senior pitcher Gabriel Hughes of Gonzaga (3.61) and two Washington State Cougars, grad student infielder Jack Smith (4.0) and junior designated hitter Jacob McKeon (3.98), were named to the 2021-22 CoSIDA Division I Academic All-District 8 first team and are eligible for the Academic All-America team.

• Big Sky champion Idaho placed five players on the all-conference men’s tennis team with sophomore Francisco Bascon a unanimous first-team singles selection for a second straight season and Francisco Gay named Freshman of the Year.

Sophomore Matteo Masala was second team in singles while the pairings of Bascon and Bruno Casino and Gay and Mario Duron received honorable mention in doubles.

• Idaho sophomore Ke Syuan Jhang was a unanimous first-team selection on the All-Big Sky Conference women’s tennis team after she went 6-1 in singles, including 5-1 playing at No. 1, and 12-4 overall in singles and doubles. She won seven of her last eight matches.

Scout Mathews was named to the All-Big Sky Conference second team in women’s tennis following a season in which the Eastern Washington freshman compiled 6-6 records in both singles and doubles. She was 5-3 in conference singles matches, playing primarily No. 2.

• The Gonzaga women’s varsity eight was named West Coast Conference crew of the month for a second straight month. In April, the Zags swept Seattle University at home during Senior Day and competed against the Pac-12’s Oregon State and Washington State.

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