A 100 Mile House Wranglers forward did something this season no other player has ever done in the 46-year history of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Austin Turner went 50 games, two games shy of a full regular season, without a single penalty.
So many big, hard minutes, and not one in the box.
And it must be said here that Turner, a 19-year-old rookie from Terrace, did in fact play big minutes for the Wranglers.
Turner tallied 15 goals and 21 assists in the regular season. He’s on the power play and the penalty kill. He plays both ends of the rink as much and as hard as anyone. He’s not a big guy, but he plays like a big guy. He’s no stranger to the corner, or the front of the net, where a lot of punishing, rule-bending hockey gets played.
Which is what makes his record so unbelievable, says captain Devan Suidy, who has probably shared more ice on the wing alongside Turner than any other Wrangler this season.
“He’ll still hit, he’ll still battle hard in the corners. It’s crazy he had zero penalties. I’ve never heard of that before.”
Coach Dale Hladun says the record is shocking because Turner is always showing hustle.
“He plays hard, he battles on the boards, and to not even get a trip [penalty]? Or a little hook? Or a hold? Or something goofy?” Hladun laughs. “Yea, it’s pretty unique.”
Michael Lynch is another forward who played alongside Turner much this season.
“He’s a really smart player,” says Lynch. “He holds on to the puck well. All his stick lifts are smart. Everything he does is smart.”
Which seems to be the key to having this incredible sort of year: being smart, alert, and in the right place at the right time.
Turner says not getting a penalty is not something he thinks about heading into a game. But he does talk about being aware and knowing where his stick is and being in the right place when he’s checking someone – “making sure you have the right position on a guy, so you’re not in a position where you need to trip a guy to get him away from the puck. Little things like that you have to pay attention to.”
The previous record for least penalty minutes in a season, according to the KIJHL website, was two minutes. It was held by two players: Brian Hoodikoff of the Grand Forks Border Bruins (42 games in 1982-83) and Carson Cartwright of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats (51 games in 2013-14).
Being in the KIJHL record book is pretty special to Turner, he says.
Speaking before Game 4 on Feb. 24, when the Wranglers were going head-to-head with the Chase Heat in Round 1, Turner had yet to earn a penalty in the playoffs. He said he’d like to keep it that way.
In the end, Turner notched three goals and five assists in 11 playoff games before the Wranglers were eliminated in Round 2 by the Kamloops Storm on March 7.
Count playoffs and Turner had a penalty-free run of 56 games. But he finally did take one on March 2. He shot the puck over the glass in Kamloops. Two minutes for delay of game. What a goon.