Christian Oxner has risen to the top in the past 12 months. His 600-odd-minute run at this summer's Island Games was enough to earn a Golden Glove nomination, which was one of four individual nods for HFX Wanderers FC, who went from last place in 2019 to CPL finalists in 2020. The Wanderers, and their impressive team performances, are what makes speaking about "The Ox" and his potentially award-winning season in Prince Edward Island a difficult task.

LIVE STREAM: Watch the CPL Awards on November 26 at 7:30 pm ET

When asked how much of his success could be attributed to his teammates, Oxner said it's a bit of both, after he finished The Island Games with the most saves (22) and best save percentage (78 per cent) in seven appearances. "I've never really read (much) into clean sheets, in all honesty, because I don't think clean sheets are a testament to how good a goalkeeper is – clean sheets are a testament to how good the team is," Oxner told "(Being nominated) is a testament to the team. I mean, sometimes as a goalkeeper you're sometimes expected to make one or two saves in a game. That's important to keep mentally sharp. But everyone should get credit – right up to the forwards." Oxner has a point, mentioning the Wanderers' forward line, who won the ball more times in the final third (58) than any other team, giving the 24-year-old goalkeeper more than a few breathers. A former standout with the Saint Mary's University Huskies, Oxner is one of three HFX Wanderers players up for CPL Awards in 2020 (now-departed Chrisnovic N'sa for Best Under-21 Player and attacker Akeem Garcia for Player of the Year). Stephen Hart is nominated for Coach of the Year.

RELATED READING: Wanderers' Oxner on CPL Finals gaffe: 'It's gonna haunt me in a good way'

"It's wicked playing with those guys," Oxner offered. "It's good when you have a good connection with the guys off the field, too. I mean, me and Peter (Schaale) had a good connection last year. Jems (Geffrard) is just one big kid, right? So it's pretty fun to get along with. "It's great to see the returnees come back because it shows [coach] Stephen Hart made some good selections last year, and I think it shows the core group that we've established had a strong culture that's going to carry on for hopefully the next couple of years." Oxner finished in the top 90 per cent of CPL 'keepers in claims (1.38) and saves (3.22) per 90 minutes, according to SportLogiq, who also highlighted his defensive action total as the most of any CPL goalkeeper. The Haligonian also conceded the second-fewest goals per 90 minutes (0.86), narrowly ahead of a less-busy Forge FC 'keeper Triston Henry. The CPL Finals were the only match in PEI that the Wanderers' backstop allowed more than one goal – a 90th-minute gaffe breaking that streak. The 2020 CPL Awards will be announced Thursday. Oxner is up against Pacific FC's Callum Irving and Henry in the Golden Glove category. FanAwards-EditorialAd-1024x284

Continue reading...