Western Hockey League (WHL) general managers and media named Seattle’s Thomas Milic as the 2022-2023 WHL Goaltender of the Year. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

Western Hockey League (WHL) general managers and media named Seattle’s Thomas Milic as the 2022-2023 WHL Goaltender of the Year. COURTESY PHOTO, Brian Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds

Thunderbirds’ Thomas Milic chosen as WHL Goaltender of the Year

Milic honored with the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy; praises fans at Kent’s ShoWare Center

Thomas Milic of the Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds is the Western Hockey League (WHL) Goaltender of the Year for the 2022-2023 season.

The WHL announced Tuesday, May 9 that Milic had been awarded the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy as the top goaltender.

“I am humbled and honoured to receive the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy,” said Milic, according to the WHL website whl.ca. “I’d like to thank the coaching staff here at the Seattle Thunderbirds as well as all the incredible coaches I’ve had before, who have helped shape me into who I am today.

“I would like to thank my teammates and my family, who are always supporting me and helping me achieve my goals and dreams.

“Lastly, to the fans in Seattle, thank you for always bringing the energy and being loud. It is an absolute blast to play in front of you each and every night.”

The T-Birds play their home games at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent.

The other finalists for the award were Jesper Vikman, of the Vancouver Giants; Rhett Stoesser, of the Red Deer Rebels; and Daniel Hauser, of the Winnipeg Ice.

Seattle will play Winnipeg in the best-of-seven WHL Championship Series starting Friday, May 12 in Winnipeg.

Milic, who hails from Coquitlam, B.C., led the league with a 2.08 goals-against average and .928 save percentage during the regular season, while his 27 wins also locked him into a third-place draw among WHL goaltenders.

The 2023 NHL Draft prospect allowed one goal or fewer in six consecutive starts from Nov. 9 through Dec. 3, and finished the regular season with a 13-0-0-1 record from his last 14 outings.

The 20-year-old holds a career 60-23-3-3 record to go along with a 2.35 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and eight shutouts from his 91 career WHL regular season games. He was originally selected by Seattle in the third round of the 2018 WHL Draft.

Milic is the fourth Seattle Thunderbird to be recognized as WHL Goaltender of the Year and first since Taran Kozun during the 2014-15 season. The T-Birds were previously recognized in 1998-99 (Cody Rudkowsky) and 1988-89 (Danny Lorenz).

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

The 2023 WHL Awards were voted upon by WHL general managers and members of the media.

Wilson played goaltender 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.

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