London Knights goaltender Michael Houser was named the Ontario Hockey League's most outstanding player Wednesday.
Houser played 62 games for the first-place Knights to win the Red Tilson Trophy while backing London to the OHL's best regular-season record.
He posted a record of 46-15-1, tying the OHL single season mark for wins set by Andrew Engelage of the Windsor Spitfires in 2009.
Already recognized two weeks ago as the OHL goaltender of the year, Houser said he has no time now to enjoy winning this award either as the Knights prepare to take on the Niagara IceDogs.
“I can enjoy the awards in the summertime. Now, it's about winning hockey games,” said Houser at a press conference hosted at John Labatt Centre. “I play with a great supporting cast. I have guys blocking shots or killing penalties in front of me. (My teammates) play hard every night and they make my job a lot easier.”
Houser, who was undrafted in the OHL, is just the fifth goaltender to receive the award following Andrew Raycroft (2000), Bill Harrington (1952), Glenn Hall (1951) and Gil Mayer (1949).
He is also the fifth member of the Knights to win the award following Corey Perry in 2005, Jason Allison in 1994, Dave Simpson in 1982 and Dennis Maruk in 1975.
“(Michael) is a leader both off and on the ice,” said London head coach and general manager Mark Hunter. “He is definitely one of our hardest workers setting an example for the rest of the team. He is one of the biggest reasons we finished first overall and have made it all the way to the OHL championship series.”
The 19-year-old native of Wexford, Pa., is also just the third American-born player to win the award following David Legwand (1998) and Pat Peake (1993).
Houser finished with six shutouts, a goals-against-average of 2.47 and a .925 save percentage.
His season included making 30 consecutive appearances from Oct. 16 to Jan. 17, and also passing Gene Chiarello as the franchise's career all-time leader in wins.
London captain and defenceman Jarred Tinordi said Houser was a difference maker all season.
“The defence worked hard in front of him, but he certainly bailed us out a few times.”
In attendance at the press gathering was OHL commissioner David Branch, who talked about Houser's ability to thrive in the league after arriving in London from the U.S. as an undrafted free agent.
“Micheal is a great story,” Branch said of Houser, who was also not drafted by an NHL team. “He will continue to show hockey experts what a special person and special player he is.”
Forward Michael Sgarbossa of the Sudbury Wolves was in second in the voting conducted by writers and broadcaster, while goalie Mark Visentin of the Niagara IceDogs was third.Report Typo/Error
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