Baltus was named the Smoke Eaters’ Most Improved Player in 2011-12 and the team’s co-MVP this season. Last week he was named to the Interior Conference’s Second All-Star Team.“Brent’s been my offensive leader all season long,” said head coach/general manager Bill Birks. “He’s put in the hard work and it’s extremely rewarding for our program to see him honoured by the league in this way.”Baltus is the first Smoke Eater to be awarded the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy, given to the MVPs from both the Interior and Coastal Conferences. This year’s Coastal Conference MVP is Chilliwack Chiefs goaltender Mitch Gillam.Baltus is also the first Smoke Eater to win a major BCHL award since Justin St. Louis was named Interior Conference Rookie of the Year in 2004.The BCHL announced its 2012-13 award winners Tuesday. The winners were chosen following a survey of BCHL coaches.Trail was eliminated from the post season by Salmon Arm during the final weekend of the season.Salmon Arm finished the season with 58 points, four more than Trail in the race for the final playoff spot in the Interior Division. The Trail Smoke Eaters didn’t advance into the B.C. Hockey League playoffs, but that didn’t stop forward Brent Baltus from being named the 2012-13 Interior Conference Most Valuable Player.Baltus, 20, led the Smoke Eaters in scoring this season with 24 goals and 52 points, including two shorthanded markers and three game-winning goals.In 116 career BCHL games with Trail, Nanaimo and Alberni Valley, the Nanaimo product tallied 38 goals and 83 points. Baltus is committed to the NCAA Division I Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves for the 2013-14 season.
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