100 Mile House Wranglers forward Rob Raju earned top honours from the Doug Birks Division in the KIJHL for the 2016-2017 season.
Raju was named Top Rookie, an award voted on by the coaches in the division.
“It was pretty cool,” said Raju. “I had no clue, but it was pretty cool. It means a lot and all the guys are happy for me.
“There were a lot of good contenders in there,” said Dale Hladun, the Wranglers coach. “Obviously we’re real proud that Rob got it. It’s well deserved. Not only can he score goals, he’s strong on the penalty kill and he’s good five on five. He’s just a good competitive kid and good in the dressing room. I’m happy for Rob.”
Raju was key to the Wranglers’ game this year, winning the team’s Outstanding Forward award and ending second in points at the end of the regular season for the team.
“He’s a very effective left winger. I thought he and [James] Gordon were magical together. They got a lot of big goals for us. I thought Raju was equally important killing penalties. You’re always excited about the offensive side of a player, but his defensive side, especially killing penalties, was very important for us,” said Hladun.
“I thought he brought the competitive nature out among many of his teammates. Rob wanted to win. Rob worked hard, and I think his character and effort mattered amongst all the kids on the team. Not only was he a rookie, I thought he was a leader as well.”
Now that it’s the off season, Raju is training in the hopes of making the Prince George Spruce Kings Junior A team for next season.
Raju was affiliated with the team and played several games with the team during the winter this year. Despite this, he says he loved his season in 100 Mile House.
“It was awesome. The fans are awesome. The town is beautiful,” he says.
He also says he’s learned a lot playing with the Wranglers this season.
“You’ve got to be strong and fast. Everything has to be at a fast pace. If you do everything at a fast pace, you’ll succeed.”
As for his Top Rookie Award:
“It’s a big honour,” says Raju. “Of course, it couldn’t have happened without my teammates and my line mates, but it’s really cool and surreal.”