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KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Portland's top scorer, named Most Sportsmanlike in WHL Western Conference, figures to get NHL shot with Vegas next season

COURTESY: PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS - Cody Glass of the Portland Winterhawks takes the puck up the ice against the Spokane Chiefs.Nice guys in hockey don't always finish last.

Cody Glass is living testament.

The 18-year-old center led the Portland Winterhawks in scoring during the regular season with 102 points, ranking second in the WHL's Western Conference. Glass, chosen with the sixth overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, was named to the all-conference team last week.

The Winnipeg, Manitoba, native also was also honored as the Most Sportsmanlike Player in the conference.

"The award is for leadership, ability and if you play the game the right way," Portland general manager/coach Mike Johnston says.

Eat your heart out, Cody McLeod, John Kordic and Randy Turnbull.

Goons of Winterhawks past may not understand, but the 6-2, 180-pound Glass can play physical hockey without engaging in fisticuffs.

"Cody plays gritty," Johnston said Saturday after the Hawks' 4-3 overtime loss to Spokane at Memorial Coliseum in the opener of their best-of-seven first-round playoff series. "He competes for loose pucks. But he doesn't take unnecessary penalties. He's usually on the right side of the puck, so he doesn't have to hold and grab and slash. He plays the game the right way in every area."

Glass was pleased to get the Most Sportsmanlike Player award.

"I take pride in what I do — being a nice person and a great teammate," he says. "It was an honor to get it."

Glass comes from good stock. His father, Jeff Glass, is a letter carrier in Winnipeg. Delivering mail in the snow in a Manitoban winter develops character.

"It's tough duty this time of year," Cody says with a smile.

When Cody was 9, Jeff and Cody's mother were divorced. From that point, Cody and older brother Matthew lived in a single-parent household — with their dad.

"As soon as dad got full custody, I was totally with my dad, and she was out of the picture," Cody says. "He raised me and my brother the right way. To be a single dad and have that responsibility is a huge thing. I think I got most of my personality from him. He's an awesome guy. I really look up to him."

Jeff Glass has made it to a good number of Winterhawks games in Portland over the last three years.

"He comes out as much as he can," Cody says. "I love that about him. He loves hockey, and he loves being here with me."

Glass, who turns 19 on April Fools Day, developed into the Hawks' best overall player this season.

"Cody is one of those players who is all-around good at everything," Johnston says. "He makes plays, he's good defensively, he kills penalties, he's on the power play. As a coach, you really appreciate him. You trust him on defense. Sometimes with offensive players, you aren't sure what they'll give you defensively. He's good at both ends of the rink.

"He's getting physically stronger, which is key for him. And he's a real leader for our team."

Glass credits Johnston — who spent a season and a half as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins — and Hawk assistants Kyle Gustafson and Danny Flynn with helping him hone his skills.

"Mike has created most of my play and developed me into the player I am today," Glass says. "I can't thank him enough, especially all the things he brought back with him from Pittsburgh, being with (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin and all the skill development. Mike, Kyle and Danny have made me a better player."

Glass has enjoyed his three seasons playing junior hockey in Portland.

"I've loved it since my first day here," he says. "It's somewhere I've always wanted to be. Never looked back. It's been awesome, especially with the way the organization treats us."

Glass thirsts for a chance to help the Hawks reach the WHL Finals, and then the Memorial Cup.

"This is the year we should make a deep playoff run," he says. "That's what I'm focusing on."

After that, he'll prepare for the Golden Knights' training camp this summer. He'd like to make the team.

"That's the goal," Glass says. "When I get to camp, I'm going to bust my balls out there. I'm just going to work hard and see what happens."

Johnston figures Glass will at least open next season with the Knights. Then it will be a matter of how he performs. It's possible the Knights will return him to Portland for another year of seasoning.

"As Cody gets stronger and physically fills out," Johnston says, "he's going to be a very good player for Vegas."

And a gentlemanly one, at that. Wayne Gretzky was that way, too.

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@kerryeggers

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