WHL announces Conference Humanitarians of the Year
Calgary, Alta. – The Western Hockey League announced today that Tyler Wong (Lethbridge Hurricanes/Cochrane, Alta.) has been named the Eastern Conference Humanitarian of the Year and Sam Ruopp (Prince George Cougars/Zehner, Sask.) has been named the Western Conference Humanitarian of the Year. Each has also been nominated for the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s Humanitarian of the Year.
The Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy will be presented at the 2017 WHL Awards on Wednesday, May 3, in Calgary, Alta. It is awarded annually to the WHL’s Humanitarian of the Year and recognizes a player who has helped enhance the community he plays in.
In May 2001, the Humanitarian of the Year Trophy was named in honour of Doug Wickenheiser, a former Regina Pat, for his contributions on and off the ice.
Eastern Conference – Tyler Wong (Lethbridge Hurricanes)
Wong, the Eastern Conference Humanitarian of the Year for the third consecutive season, recently completed his fifth and final campaign with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. As team captain, the 21-year-old Wong has established himself as an exceptional ambassador for the Western Hockey League, both on and off the ice.
Building upon success from its inaugural season in 2015-16, Wong carried forward with the ‘Canes KidSport program in 2016-17, donating $5 to KidSport Lethbridge & Taber for each goal he scored. The initiative raised over $6,000 in 2015-16 and after setting a goal to raise $10,000 in 2016-17, Wong recruited Ryley Lindgren (now of the Swift Current Broncos), Giorgio Estephan and Jordy Bellerive to accept the challenge in support of KidSport. With the help of the community and alumni, Wong’s initiative surpassed its goal by raising over $13,000 this season.
In addition to his contributions towards KidSport Lethbridge & Taber, Wong played a vital role in many other ways within the community, including through the “Hurricanes Spread Christmas Cheer” program in support of local foodbanks in southern Alberta. Along with coaches and teammates, he helped deliver food hampers and toy baskets and visited senior homes during the holiday season. Beyond this, Wong volunteered as a teacher’s assistant in a local classroom, served as a volunteer on-ice instructor for a number of minor hockey teams throughout the season and most recently worked with the Lethbridge Therapeutic Riding Association to help individuals with mental and physical disabilities through horseback riding.
This season, Wong was voted as the Hurricanes “Fan Favourite Player” for fifth time, ensuring a clean sweep of the award across the duration of his WHL and Hurricanes career – a feat achieved by no other player in Lethbridge Hurricanes history.
Western Conference – Sam Ruopp (Prince George Cougars)
Ruopp, the Western Conference Humanitarian of the Year, recently completed his fourth and final campaign with the Prince George Cougars. As team captain, the 20-year-old Ruopp has established himself as an exceptional ambassador for the Western Hockey League, both on and off the ice.
At the onset of the 2015-16 season, the product of Zehner, Sask., played a key role in launching the well-received “Literacy and Exercise” Initiative in local Prince George elementary schools, aimed at promoting literacy and healthy living.
Having enjoyed the opportunity to contribute via the “Literacy and Exercise” Initiative, Ruopp stepped to the forefront in 2016-17 and helped with the launch of the “Spirit of Healthy Kids” promotion, implemented in conjunction with Northern Health and the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation. He visited 15 elementary schools in the region, helping educate students on the benefits of healthy living, good choices and active lifestyles.
Outside of his commitment to regular community work, Ruopp was always the first to volunteer his time for other off-ice initiatives, including hospital visits, backyard rink promotions, autograph sessions and photography opportunities, along with the simple but oft-overlooked effort of connecting with fans through genuine conversation.
As the only player in Prince George Cougars history to carry the captaincy for three seasons, Ruopp’s impact both on and off the ice cannot be understated. He helped to establish and instill a new culture based on passion, work ethic and dedication – both at the rink and within the greater community.