Nic Renyard’s story of redemption in junior hockey is complete.
On Friday (May 8), the Saanich-raised goalie, who was released from the Victoria Grizzlies at the outset of the 2014-15 season, was named the top junior A goalie in Canada.
Renyard not only captured the Alberta Junior Hockey League MVP and top goaltender award as a member of the Okotoks Oilers, he was one of five finalists for the Canadian Junior A Hockey League MVP award, winning the CJHL top goalie.
“(Okotoks is) a really awesome group of guys, the coaches had confidence in me and they gave me an opportunity to play, which is all I needed. I’m really lucky,” he told Hockey Canada.
The 20-year-old Reynolds secondary graduate is committed to the University of Massachusetts Minutemen for the 2015-16 NCAA Hockey East Div. 1 season.
With the Oilers, Renyard won a league-high 30 games to go along with eight losses and three ties, and shared the AJHL’s best save percentage of .924, while posting a 2.19 goals against average with the Oilers. His five shutouts set a new franchise record.
The season began with Renyard going 12-0-1 in his first 13 starts. He racked up five game first star honours and was player of the month in October. The Oilers finished third in the AJHL’s South Division in the regular season and made it to the second playoff round before getting swept 4-0 by the Brooks Bandits.
Prior to Jr. A Renyard played for the major midget South Island Royals (Thunderbirds) and was backup in Penticton to Vees’ netminder Chad Katunar, also of Victoria. That team won the 2012 RBC Championship, but the following year they traded Renyard. He ended up in Victoria, but was traded again.
“I never considered quitting, not even for a second. I was going to find a way – there’s no way I was giving up.”
Saanich Brave in the mix
Former Saanich Braves forward Cole Golka earned an honourable mention for CJHL MVP of the year. Golka led the Dryden Ice Dogs of the Saskatchewan International league with 47 goals and 42 assists in 54 games.
Golka split 44 games with the Peninsula Panthers and Braves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League in 2012-13.