Introducing the finalists for Griffins' 2019-20 Male Athlete of the Year

Max Vriend (volleyball), left, Justin Berget (golf) and Cam Gotaas (hockey) are the finalists for MacEwan's 2019-20 Male Athlete of the Year (Robert Antoniuk, Jefferson Hagen, Joel Kingston photos).
Max Vriend (volleyball), left, Justin Berget (golf) and Cam Gotaas (hockey) are the finalists for MacEwan's 2019-20 Male Athlete of the Year (Robert Antoniuk, Jefferson Hagen, Joel Kingston photos).

MacEwan Athletics

In a new world of social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are announcing all 2019-20 Griffins award winners online. Here is our schedule:

March 25: Most Improved winners for each team (Find the story here)

March 26: Most Outstanding winners for each team (Find the story here)

March 27: Team of the Year (Find the story here)

March 28: Academic Team of the Year (Find the story here)

Monday: Female Rookie of the Year (Find the story here)

Tuesday: Male Rookie of the Year (Find the story here)

Wednesday: Female Athlete of the Year (Find the story here)

Today: Male Athlete of the Year

Our Male Athlete of the Year award goes to the individual who had the greatest performance of any men's Griffins student-athlete (in good academic standing) over the course of the 2019-20 season.

Here are our finalists for the award. The winner will be announced at 4:30 p.m. today.


Justin Berget, men's golf

Awards: ACAC men's golf individual champion and golfer of the year … CCAA men's golf individual silver medalist (first CCAA medal in program history) … CCAA All-Canadian … ACAC North Regional champion … Sutton Player of the Month for September … Named ACAC male athlete of the week twice (Sept. 17, Oct. 1) … Named to MacEwan Athletics' three stars list four times (3rd – Sept. 3, 2nd – Sept. 17, 1st – Oct. 1, 1st – Oct. 22).

Program record: Matched program's lowest three-round total at a CCAA championship (217)

Synopsis: Producing the most dominant individual season in MacEwan golf program history, Berget won a silver medal at the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association national championship to record the first CCAA podium finish by a Griffins golfer.

His three-round total of 217 at Continental Golf Club-St. Laurent in Sainte-Victoire De-Sorel, Que. matched a program record set by James Charpentier at the 2015 national championship and was just one shot shy of gold medal winner Louis-Alexandre Jobin-Colgan.

The silver followed Berget's impressive nine-shot win at the ACAC Championship – one of the most dominant performances the conference has seen considering the conditions. His 2-under total 214 at Coal Creek Golf Resort was accomplished in inclement weather that included snow, rain and freezing temperatures.

Berget also had an individual win at the ACAC North Regional at Red Tail Landing GC; his rounds of 70 and 69 were tops by one shot.

Off the course, the Griffins team captain volunteered in the junior golf program at his home course in Stony Plain.

Cam Gotaas, men's hockey

Awards: ACAC first team all-star … Sutton Player of the Month for February … Named to MacEwan Athletics' three stars list twice (3rd – Oct. 22, 1st – Feb. 18).

Stats: 15 G, 25A, 40 PTS in 28 regular season games; 3G in 3 playoff games so far

Program record: Matched single-season program record for short-handed goals (3).

Synopsis: As the returning captain of a men's hockey team with tremendous turnover from last season, Cam Gotaas was hugely instrumental in guiding the team to 20-7-1-0 regular season record, good for third place in the ACAC standings.

The Sherwood Park product scored three goals in MacEwan's 2-1 opening round playoff series win over Concordia before the rest of the ACAC playoffs were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the regular season, Gotaas became the first Griffins player in 16 years to reach 40 points – which is the fifth-best single season output in program history. His 25 assists are fourth-most.

Gotaas' defensive forward duties were equally impressive as he anchored the ACAC's second-best penalty-killing unit (and tied a program record with three short-handed goals), while consistently playing against the top forwards on opposing teams.

In the community, Gotaas helped organize the Griffin for a Day initiative.

Max Vriend, men's volleyball

Awards: Canada West second all-star team … Sutton Player of the Month for January … Named to MacEwan Athletics' three stars list five times (2nd – Nov. 26, 1st – Dec. 3, 2nd – Jan. 7, 1st – Feb. 4, 1st – Feb. 11).

Stats: 317 kills (1st in Canada West), 4.17 kills/set (1st in CW), 4.8 points/set (1st in CW), 362.5 points (2nd in CW), 108 digs (19th in CW), .216 hitting percentage (20th in CW), 45 blocks (T23rd in CW), 19 service aces (T24th in CW).

Became 24th player in Canada West history to net 1,000 career kills.

Program records: Most single season kills (317), most kills/set (4.17), most points (362.5), most points/set (4.8), most single season aces (19), Best aces/set mark in a single season (0.25), Most kills in a match (32 at UBCO on Jan. 31, 2020), tied his own record for most points in a match (34.0 at UBCO, Jan. 31, 2020).

Synopsis: Completing the most dominant season ever by a MacEwan men's volleyball player, Max Vriend broke seven single season or match records and tied another, leaving an indelible mark in his final year with the Griffins.

He became the first Griffins men's volleyball player to lead Canada West in kills, kills per set and points per set and first to make a CW all-star team.

As impressive as any of his stats was the fact he accounted for 41.7 per cent of MacEwan's total offensive production – by far the highest among any single player in the conference.

After the incredible season that he had, Vriend also now holds Griffins program career Canada West records for kills (1,037), points (1,311.0), blocks (327), service aces (79), sets played (402).

He has plans to play professionally in Europe next season.

Vriend was involved in the community by volunteering with NAVC camps and various promotional booths around MacEwan.