Smiles, laughter, and cheers filled up the Prince George Civic Centre as the Cougars handed out their annual team awards for the 2016-17 season.

GM Todd Harkins addresses the audience at Cougars Awards Banquet | Kyle Balzer, My PG Now

Coaches, staff, parents, billets, and fans honoured the performances of the players, both on and off the ice, less than 24 hours after winning PG’s first WHL BC Division banner in franchise history.

“It takes a village to put a great team together,” said Cats General Manager Todd Harkins in a speech before nearly 400 people on Sunday afternoon.

“The Prince George Cougars are being used as a prime example for other organizations around the WHL. Our scouting system, coaching staff, and supporting members have proven that this club is a championship-caliber team.”

This year’s Most Valuable Player was defenceman Brendan Guhle, who recorded 29 points in 32 games this season with the Cougars.

Despite playing less than half a season in Prince George, Guhle says he’s honoured to receive the prestigious Dan Hamhuis Award.

“It’s a good feeling. The only reason that I wanted to get traded was to go to a winning team and it was nice that Prince Albert was generous enough to trade me here. I think we got a good opportunity to go far here.”

Ty Edmonds took home two awards for his efforts this season, including getting his 100th career WHL win earlier this month, solidifying his rank as one of the best Cougars goaltenders of all-time.

The Winnipeg product was given the Michael Fogolin Memorial Award as the MVP voted by the players, along with the Chris Mason Award for the Most Three-Star Performances of the season, presented by Mayor Lyn Hall.

After signing his name in the Cats’ history books with the most points ever, 242, forward Jansen Harkins won the Troy Bourke Award as the Offensive Player of the Year, presented by Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley bond.

Sam Ruopp was named Defensive Player of the year; the Eric Brewer Award was announced by Cougars alumni Eric Brewer himself via a recorded video.

The Brett Connolly Award was handed out to defenceman Ryan Schoettler as the top rookie; he tallied a total of 10 points in 58 games.

The 17-year-old also received the Dr. Jeff Zorn Award for Scholastic Player of the Year.

After a vote Saturday night and for the second-straight season, forward Jesse Gabrielle became the undisputed fan favourite of the year, securing the Dorothy Johnson Memorial Award.

Cougars Captain Sam Ruopp gives speech at Awards Banquet | Kyle Balzer, My PG Now

Along with physical awards, Cougars’ players made several tributes to equipment staff, volunteers, and off-ice officials for their contributions behind-the-scenes to the stellar season.

“All the support throughout the community has been amazing and it makes us players feel really special,” said Captain Ruopp addressing the Civic Centre crowd.

“It’s very humbling! Thanks for all support, we’re very excited, but this is just the beginning. We’re going to go into playoffs here and we’re going to get that championship.”

Prince George will continue to enjoy the celebration, but will get back to work soon as they prepare for Game 1 of the WHL Western Conference Playoffs, Friday night at the CN Centre.

They’ll face the Portland Winterhawks, after the Tri-City Americans completed a comeback 6-5 overtime victory Sunday night against Everett.