2022-23 SICHL Awards Show

Live from Havana the 2022-23 SICHL Awards report finally uploads from Cuba!! Read on as award winners are gifted meaningful boxes of cigars!
by Che Guevara | November 21, 2023, 5:55 PM ET

Welcome league to the 2022-23 SICHL awards show, live from Havana. 

 

With the day spent lounging amongst the many Havana beaches, palm lined streets, historic bars and little cafes the SICHL league executives and players descend on the Hotel Nacional de Cuba to experience the R(LOVE)UCION lounge which was serving complimentary Rev’d Up cocktails and next door at the Habanos cigar and coffee parlour there was a mix of some of the best cigars worldwide. But no time to get sidetracked with all that Cuba has to offer, the show must go on as they say! So without further adieu the 2022-23 SICHL Award Show!     

 

Commissioner Mark MacRae takes the stage 

 

Throwing the fire to smoke gets things started. The Havana crowd goes wild as Commissioner MacRae comes out, thinking the awards would start with their historic comeback and first Continental Cup, however that is not the case.

 

GHA Championship 

The awards spark up with the recognition of one of the league's most important franchises, The Acadia Grizzly Bears and their GHA Championship. The Val d’Or Villains claim their first ever championship, which somehow seems shocking given the drafting and development success of such a storied franchise that a GHA championship hasn’t come before now. To the Villains goes a box of Ramon Allones Club Allones Edicion Limitadas which are not typically seen as a cigar for beginners but the Acadia franchise is far from that. The wrapper is dark and aged but the filler is buttery sweet and almost guilts you into not lighting it. But when you do it delivers that classic powerful punch. Very reminiscent of the Bears and Villains alike, a franchise that has stood the test of time, but still has those young guns in the core just waiting to be given an opportunity. And when provided the chance they often make the rest of the SICHL GM’s jealous and regretful they didn’t scoop them up in the draft. “This is team building at its best, and it would be completely unsurprising to see the Val d’Or Villains back here again in short order. Congratulations to Guy, the great city of Val d’Or and the Grizzly Bears franchise, well deserved. Also a shout out to the Central Oregon Cowboys for representing the World Conference, another well stocked, well run organization!” comments Mr MacRae 

 

Rookie of the Year

Continuing to stoke the fire we move along to present another award. This time to a recent graduate of the GHA after racking up 143 points in 54 GHA games last season, Kirill Kaprizov has gone on to continued success in the SICHL leading all rookies with 74 points across 76 games including a transition from the Riders to the Rockies. Which is entirely deserving of the Teemu Selanne award for Rookie of the Year. For the solid effort the rookie gets a box of Punch 48’s, one of the youngest cigars coming out of Cuba but it shows complexity and subtleness beyond its years. Which perfectly aligns to the talents of Kirill and allows the Rockies to enjoy something truly special without having to pay for full freight. Commish MacRae on Kaprizov “Kirill Kaprizov is a very special player who had the benefit of playing on one of the league's best teams. He fit in quickly and made his case to play on the big lines with some of the league's best players, a deserving spot that will likely be his for many years to come.”  A very honourable mention goes to Tage Thompson from the Whitehorse Huskies who also had one heck of a year on one heck of a team!  

 

Dave Schultz Award

To keep puffing away we will move onto the Dave Schultz award for the most penalty minutes. This award often goes to bruisers and hard nosed players, this year is no different. Although there was a close race in the end the award goes to Patrick Maroon of the Las Vegas Aces who narrowly beat out Brendon Dillion from the Calgary Mustangs. Now you might think we missed an opportunity by not gifting the Dave Schultz award winner with the Punch cigar…and you may not be wrong but instead to Patrick Maroon goes a box of the H. Upmann Magnum 50 which is a behemoth of cigars that packs some serious flavours such as leathery notes reminiscent of boxing gloves! H Upmann is also the brand of cigars ordered by US President JFK prior to committing a political 5 minute major of signing the embargo against beautiful glorious Cuba. “Congratulations to Patrick Maroon for spending more time in the penalty box than any other player. I certainly see the coincidence that both Maroon and Dillion come from teams that were staples in their respective conference playoff picture for years and this year have fallen off a little. I can see how that has been frustrating and these players need to take it out on other teams, I think it shows their passion for the game!” joked MacRae. 

 

Mario Lemieux Award

Speaking of passion for the game, that brings us to our next award. One thats name evokes passion and pure technical talent…the Mario Lemieux award for most assists. In true team spirit the lemieux award will be shared by two players who will assist each other in hoisting it today. Those players are Anze Kopitar of the St Louis Spartans and Cale Makar of the Edmonton Supersonics. Combining for 150 assists these two players have shown that team play is essential to success. Both leaders on their respective teams and their vision and playmaking abilities have benefited others namely Bo Horvat and Clayton Keller who were both able to score over 40 goals in part due to the hard work of their teammates receiving this award! To these players each goes a box of The Partagas Series №1 Edicion Limitadas, which is a cigar (like assists) that are often underappreciated and even under the radar. This cigar produces a creamy smoke with dark chocolate, oak and earthy tones, certainly one that should not go unnoticed. “It is fitting that these two players share this award, on one end you have a wily old vet in Kopitar continuing to display greatness, on the other you have a player entering the prime of his career in Makar.” He almost didn't say it but he just couldn’t help himself….. “He is one of the best young defensemen in the league.” added Commish Mark MacRae 

 

Loblaws Red Light Special 

We will take a quick break from regularly scheduled programming to bring you the “President’s Choice” award (the Canadians in the crowd boooooo fiercely) “Weston you SUCK” yells Marchand from the audience. Let’s bring this back to hockey here folks, the winner of this year's award for the most 3 star selections is Aleksander Barkov! *GM Prozeller spits out his drink* “Damn it I said I never wanted to hear that name again! That name is banned in Cuba from now on.” The unnamed player takes the stage to receive his award. This player did have a fantastic year posting 109 points and clearly was a difference maker in a large number of games netting 16 1st stars, 6 2nd stars and 6 3rd stars. There was a close runner up in Anze Kopitar who only had two less 2nd stars but otherwise similar results and more points over the season with 115. So given this information Mr. B will get a box of Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure №2 which is noted as a wonderful beginners cigar, its qualities include consistency and light body, with remarks such as “if you don't want to throw up on your first cigar, this is the way to go”. No further comments were made. 

 

Raymond Bourque Award

Moving along to our next award, we have the Raymond Bourque award for the best plus/minus player of the season. To everyone in the league’s complete shock it is Rasmus Ristolainen from your hometown Havana Revolution!!! After the league and team brass pick their jaws up off the floor, everyone looks around at each other shrugging not sure what to do. Rasmus himself was in the bathroom not even aware he had just won something! But the big man must have done something right to end the year at +61 putting him exactly 10 +/- ahead of the runner up player who plays for the Banff Rockies and cannot be named. Although the other 5 players making up the top 7 in +/- are all Revolutionaries! To the winner of the Ray Bourque award goes a box of the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona’s which is a monster of a cigar at 7.6 inches. Considered a stately smoke it has both a sweet and spicy aroma with hints of coffee, best smoked in a calm environment which seems appropriate for the leagues +/- leader as he must be cool as a cucumber. “Rasmus leading the league in plus minus wasn’t something anyone saw coming, but then again the Ray Bourque award history is littered with interesting characters, so this is just one more chapter in that book.” shrugged the Commish. 

 

Mike Bossy Award

Alright let's keep smoking away here, the next award is the Mike Bossy award for the most goals scored by a player in the regular season. Somehow, despite being perpetually atop the best players in the league this is the first time in his career winning this award, which goes to Havana’s own Connor McDavid!! McDavid topped the charts with 48 goals over 77 games, just staying ahead of the runner up Chris Krieder of the Acadia Grizzly Bears who potted 2 less goals over 5 more games. To Mr. McDavid goes a box of Romeo y Julieta Churchills. This most famous line of cigars was released after a state visit from Winston Churchill himself to appreciate his fondness for the brand. This cigar line became so important that now all cigars fitting similar dimensions are labeled as Churchills, which aligns nicely with Connor McDavid himself. A player so important to the league that it is without a doubt he will be referenced even long after he stops winning awards such as these. “Connor is such a standup young man, I am thrilled he has been able to find success in Havana and in turn that he was able to win here. Players like this deserve a cup and any team having players of this caliber would be doing the league a disservice if they cannot provide the opportunities for success on the highest levels. It would be a shame to see him wasting away at the bottom of a division” added Deputy Commissioner Franceschini.     

 

Smartitude Cup

Before we move ahead we need to recognize one of the smartest people in the room. Someone so well versed in the playings of the hockey that they can see into the future. And no we are not talking about his ability to draft SICHL talent at a far greater rate than anyone else, we are talking about their ability to predict the outcomes of playoff series! Yes the Smartitude Cup is upon us! And the winner is Sylvain Tremblay of the Reykjavik Riders who correctly predicted 12 of the 15 series and achieved 4 bullseyes. The race was close and there is another clairvoyant in our ranks, Phil Lesage of the Seattle Grunge also had 12 correct but only 3 bullseyes. To Sylvain goes a box of Partagas Serie D №4 which is one of the best selling and oldest production cigars in all of Cuba, a very chocolatey cigar but similar to Sylvain don't be fooled by the sweet and smooth approach as this cigar (and Sylvain prospect knowledge) will kick you in the mouth! 

 

Ken Dryden Trophy

Igniting back into the trophies let’s start from the net and work out, like a well built team! Which brings us to the Ken Dryden Trophy which is awarded to the goaltender voted to be most valuable to his team over the course of the season. To no one’s surprise this award goes to Connor Hellebuyck, a repeat winner who also won in his rookie season 2018-19. This puts him in an elite club of netminders who have won twice including only Martin Broduer, Ryan Miller and Braden Holtby. Hellebuyck played a league leading 80 SICHL regular season games producing 63 wins while sporting a 2.21GAA and 0.925sv%. The runner up was Jake Oettinger from the Seattle Grunge playing 50 games with 30 wins a 2.20GAA and 0.930sv%. To Connor Hellebuyck goes a box of Cohiba Siglo VI’s which has multiple entries on Cigar Aficionado's top 25 cigars list and is credited as being the first cigar to sport the aluminum tube with cedar wrapper for protection. An intense cigar with leather and coffee notes, is a result of Cohiba reserving the best tobacco in all of Cuba for this cigar. This is the perfect cigar to represent Hellebuyck as he is a model of consistency, all cozy in his protection tube allowing him to play game after game without issue. “There’s really nothing to be said about Hellebuyck that hasn’t already been said, he’s a monster, one of the best goaltenders in the game and will be accumulating awards and breaking records for years to come.” 

 

Bobby Orr Trophy

Next up we have a fan favourite trophy, it's smokin hot! The Bobby Orr Trophy for the  defenseman deemed most exceptional at his position. And without a doubt it has to be a repeat of last year's champion, from the Edmonton Supersonics, Cale Makar! Leading all defensemen in points (97) Makar was so productive he was 5th in scoring league wide, with the next closest defensemen, also the runner up for this award, Roman Josi was 25th league wide with 79pts. Makar was instrumental to the Supersonics success, placing himself 5th for points in a single season as a defensemen on a storied franchise such as Edmonton just speaks to this budding stars dominance. The cigar selected for Mr. Makar is Romeo y Julieta Cedros De Luxe which is described as a complete showstopper. With hints of floral and vanilla this cigar starts sweet but quickly and regularly evolves. A cigar you just cannot pass by, which accurately describes Cale Makar, a player you just cannot pass by (except the 6 teams that did so in 2017). “Cale is certainly one of the exceptional young players in the league deserving of this trophy for a 2nd time. Given his age it wouldn’t be surprising for him to continue topping the charts for many years to come.” commended MacRae 

 

Wayne Gretzky Trophy

Speaking of young phenoms, now might be a good time to pivot to the Wayne Gretzky Trophy going to the MVP of the league, which for the first time in his career goes to Connor McDavid! McDavid amassed 115 points in 77 games which was the highest point total since the 2010-11 season (not including the asterisk season) which was the year Havana entered the league!  McDavid lead the league with 16 game winning goals and the Havana Revolution to their best regular season in team history. To McDavid goes a box of Montecristo №2 a Cuban classic, a celebrity in the cigar world; it was introduced in 1935 and remains untouched since. Notes of pepper and cedar, the cigar starts very mellow and medium when you light it up it slowly evolves to a full body cigar in all its glory, which is much like McDavid himself, not having won many awards previously as he heated up but now he is in all his glory. “McDavid was an instrumental part of his team's success this year. It was quite clear he was playing with something to prove, and I think the league has taken notice. We see you Connor!” laughed the Commish.  

 

Commissioners Trophy

Speaking of McDavid and the Havana Revolution it is now time to introduce the Commissioner's Trophy awarded to the team with the best record in the regular season. Given the abundance of Revolution players already hoisting trophies and awards tonight it should come as no surprise that the winner for this year is the Havana Revolution! Finishing with 134 points sets a new record in SICHL history (2nd best if you count the universally derided 2012/13 season). Not stopping at standings dominance, Havana finished 1st in Goals For and 1st in Goals Allowed, clearly demonstrating their dominance at both ends of the ice. The team was also extremely efficient seeing 10.39% of their shots go in the net (3rd slightly behind Portland and Seattle), and lead the league in shot conversion against limiting opposing teams to a 7.61% shot conversion rate with no other teams markedly close.  The cigar box going to GM Prozeller and Coach Wendel Clark on behalf of the Revolution is the Cohiba Behike 52, considered by many to be the perfect cigar, nicknamed the Holy Grail. It also just so happens that the universally agreed upon best year was the 2010 Cohiba Behike’s which aligns with the year the Havana Revolution was berthed into the SICHL. Known for its creamy flavours and earthy notes this cigar is perfect for a team equally as perfect. Commish MacRae had this to say on the Revolution “A massive congratulations to Havana and their fans, the Commissioner's Trophy is an 82 game grind. For this team to eclipse all previous years and do so in the extremely challenging, clearly better conference in the World is something to notice!”  

 

Jari Kurri Trophy

Quickly now as it seems GM Prozeller has left the room, we have time to sneak this one in. We are talking of course about the Playoff MVP. After playing outstanding hockey for the 22-23 season, this player went on to single handedly dismantle some of the best teams in the super tough Canadian Conference. Averaging 1.5 points per game, he holds the single season and all time franchise records for the Banff Rockies in playoff Goals, Assists, Points, Game Winning Goals, it is Aleksander Barkov. Topping second place candidate Connor McDavid in a very close race, this award is certainly recognition of the great play of one of the Rockies best players and one that clearly struck fear into their opponents hearts and minds every time he took the ice. To Barkov goes a box of Partagas Maduro №1, a very special cigar as it was the first Partages to carry the Maduro label. Maduro means that the tobacco leaves were fermented for an extended period of time, making them darker in color and enhancing their flavor. This brings out an extra level of flavour, just as we are certain that Barkov will unlock an extra level in years to come and bring home something special to Banff. “Barkov is a gem in the Rockies, you don’t find players like him often. He did something special in the 2022-23 playoffs and he honestly deserved better, although being recognized as playoff MVP has to be a nice consolation prize!” added Commish MacRae 

 

Continental Cup

Well now, onto the big smoke, the one we have all been waiting for, the award of awards…the Continental Cup. Which goes to the Havana Revolution after one of the most entertaining finals match-ups in the recent past. Right when it looked like they had no hope at all, they clawed their way back and summited the Rockies to raise the iconic revolutionary fist of might and claim the teams first championship. After a scary first round against the Philadelphia Fire Ants, the Revolution carried on and finally found victory against the St Louis Spartans. This put them up against the World Conference’s second best team, the Portland Buckaroos! Shockingly, Havana pushed through in 5 games and faced their biggest test in the Banff Rockies. One of the most epic back and forth series followed, climaxing with a game 6 OT which saw the Revolution push the series back home to Havana. There the Revolution, powered by a highly motivated, inspired team fired up by the home crowd was able to overwhelm the Rockies and cement themselves in the SICHL history books…finally! For their efforts everyone in the Havana Revolution organization gets a box of Trinidad La Trova La Casa De Habanos Edicion, described as a true delight and one of the most delicious pieces of nature you will ever taste. The Trinidad La Trova is widely believed to be the cigar preferred by Fidel Castro himself, not cheap but worth every penny La Trova coats your palate with white chocolate, spices, earth, and even a touch of a creamy coffee. A cigar that you will want to light one after another just as the Revolution hope to do with another strong season set to come in 2023-24. “This was something the league has seen coming for quite a long time.” remarked MacRae “Havana has done everything right, drafted well, made smart targeted trades, showed patience, and finally their efforts have amounted to a Revolution. Like most Revolutions they had their struggles, years where it looked like it was never going to happen, but they remained strong, resilient, didn’t panic and continued to chip away until they finally overthrew the league's evil overlord and brought the championship back to the people where it belongs.” 

 

And with that the 2022-23 season comes to close, what started as a GM cigar smoking summit in Toronto ends with the Championship team handing out boxes of cigars to award winners. A fitting close to revolutionary season!  

 
¡Viva La Revolucion!
 

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