Manitoba Moose defenceman Leon Gawanke chose the perfect time to strike, and he did so while the iron was hot.
This weekend, the Moose played their final home game of the 2022-23 calendar, and as per club tradition, the team handed out five awards to some of its top players as it neared the end of its season.
Gawanke, 23, put up another stellar performance for the club on its back-end, as he scored and added two assists, picking up a point on each of the team’s three goals in its 3-1 win over the visiting Grand Rapids Griffins. His goal actually came on the first shot of the game for Manitoba.
“It’s always nice, I think it’s the second time it’s happened now,” Gawanke said post-game. “Greg made a great play and Joe made a good screen. It’s always a relief to get a goal right away.”
In fact, the goal was the German’s 17th of the season, which matched a Moose record set by Brett Hauer back in the 2000-01 season. He still has four more games to make it fully his own.
“It’s obviously a nice feeling to have my name up there, and I’m proud of that,” he said. “But I think a lot comes with the team we have this year. Our D are a big part of our game and our forwards feed us a lot on the power play and everything. I think overall, it’s just a great thing for me, but it’s just kind of a team award, because I think they are really finding me a lot this year. Obviously, I am proud of that and it’s a good feeling.”
Gawanke was recognized amongst four others with awards prior to puck drop on Friday.
He was presented with the team’s Best Defenceman Award, while fellow blueliner Declan Chisholm took home the Most Valuable Player Award. Another defender, Dean Stewart of Portage la Prairie was presented with the Rookie of the Year Award. Former Jets forward Jansen Harkins – who also scored on Friday night – was selected for the Fan Favourite Award. And for the third time, Jimmy Oligny took home the Community Service Award.