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Giants goalie best in Western Canada

Brett Mirwald wins Del Wilson Memorial Trophy, in running for national award

Number 33, a 20-year-old goalie for the Vancouver Giants, has been labelled the best of the best in Western Canada at keeping the puck out of the net.

It was announced Thursday, May 7 that G-Men’s netminder Brett Mirwald was awarded the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the Western Hockey League’s goaltender of the year for the 2023-24 season.

This is the first time in franchise history that a Giants goaltender has won this award, said Giants general manager Barclay Parneta said.

“Congratulations to Brett on being named goalie of the year in the WHL!” Parneta said.

“Brett approached his time with the Giants in a genuinely professional manner that helped him grow his game while being open to Paul Fricker’s tutelage. Brett was a good goalie when he got here and an excellent goalie when he graduated.”

Mirwald had an unforgettable season, said the GM, noting he ranked first in the WHL in saves (1,723), first in minutes played (3,190), tied for third in wins (29), and tied for third in save percentage (.913).

He was the biggest reason the Giants were able to secure the sixth seed in the Western Conference, logging a record of 29-22-3-0 in 55 appearances. According to SportLogiq, the Saskatoon, Sask. product was first in the WHL in goals saved above expected (37.3) in the regular season.

“I am very grateful to be awarded the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy,” Mirwald shared.

“I’d like to thank the entire Vancouver Giants organization for believing in me and helping me achieve this honour. It has been a privilege to represent this organization,” shared the netminder who’s now aged out of major junior ice hockey.

“I’d also like to thank my teammates and coaches for their help and sacrifice this season and helping me achieve this award. I’d lastly like to thank all my past coaches for helping me to get to this point, as well as my family for their unwavering support.”

Mirwald was named the WHL goaltender of the week a league-high five times this season.

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The 6-foot-1 goalie was acquired by the Giants from the Moose Jaw Warriors in June 2022, in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick in 2026.

“His contribution was more than just in between the pipes. He provided leadership and a great example of perseverance to his teammates,” Parneta added.

Mirwald finished his WHL career with a record of 42-43-8-1, a goals-against average of 3.23 and a save percentage of .907 in exactly 100 regular season games played.

Other finalists who were in the running for the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy were: U.S. division’s Jan Spunar (of Olomouc, Czechia), playing for the Portland Winterhawks; the central division’s Harrison Meneghin (South Surrey), playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes; and east division’s Jackson Unger (Calgary), who played in the net for the Moose Jaw Warriors.

With this recent award, Mirwald is now one of three nominees in the running for the Canadian Hockey League’s goaltender of the year award. In this case, he goes up against OHL’s Jacob Oster from Oshawa and QMJHL’s William Rousseau from Rouyn-Noranda. The winner of the national award will be revealed at the CHL awards during the 2024 Memorial Cup in Michigan at the end of the month.

The Del Wilson Memorial Trophy honours a WHL goaltender deemed to be the most outstanding during the WHL regular season.

A goaltender himself, Delbert “Del” Wilson played for the Regina Abbotts and Regina Pats in the 1940s. Following the conclusion of his playing career, Wilson found success in the coaching ranks, winning 35 provincial hockey championships in Saskatchewan.

A co-founder of the WHL and long-time general manager of the Regina Pats, Wilson played a direct role in the league’s formation. Along with Jim Piggott, Wilson helped lead the unification of all three major junior leagues across Canada into what is now known as the Canadian Hockey League.

The 2024 WHL awards were voted upon by WHL general managers and members of the media.

The Vancouver Giants are members of the Western Hockey League and were inaugurated in 2001. They called Langley home since 2016, playing out of the 5,276-seat Langley Events Centre.