Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans has been honoured as the best player in junior hockey this season.
The Winnipeg native was handed the CCM Player of the Year award on Saturday by the Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella organization for the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The 21-year-old Shinnimin, who also won the Chrysler Dodge scorer of the year award, led all three leagues in scoring with 58 goals and 134 points and was plus-45 for the season. He helped Tri-City to a WHL western conference title. He recently signed with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Not bad for a player who has never been drafted, either to junior hockey or to the NHL.
That he was only five-foot-five when he became eligible for the WHL draft probably worked against him.
”I was disappointed because as a young kid you want that status,” he said. ”But it was an opportunity for me to look at what I had to do to establish myself in the WHL.
”You’ve got to believe in yourself. I got a shot with Tri-City and that was a huge for me.”
At Tri-City, Shinnimin played with boyhood friends Adam Hughesman and Mason Wilgosh, although the line that tore up the WHL this season had Patrick Holland in Wilgosh’s place.
”Adam and Patrick Holland this year had a huge year,” said Shinnimin. ”We built chemistry quickly and just ran with it.”
Shinnimin beat out London Knights goalie Michael Houser, another player never drafted in junior or the NHL, and Victoriaville Tigres forward Yanni Gourde.
The awards ceremony at Shawinigan’s arts centre was held in conjunction with the Mastercard Memorial Cup tournament.
Houser got the Vaughn Goaltender of the Year award after tying an OHL record with 46 wins. The 19-year-old from Wexford, Pa., had a 2.47 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage with six shutouts.
He edged Mathieu Corbeil of the Saint John Sea Dogs and Tyler Bunz of the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs won the Post Defenceman of the Year award after picking up 72 points in only 50 games. Hamilton was drafted ninth overall by the Boston Bruins last June. He beat out Jerome Gauthier-Leduc of the Rimouski Oceanic and Alex Petrovic of the Red Deer Rebels.
”With last year being drafted and the whole journey I’ve been on, this is special,” said Hamilton.
His Sarnia squad lost to London in the OHL final, or else he’d be in Shawinigan to play.
”I didn’t want to be here if I wasn’t playing in the tournament,” he added. ”It would be special.”
The BMO Rookie of the Year award went to Quebec Remparts forward Mikhail Grigorenko, a top prospect for this year’s draft who had 40 goals and 45 assists in 59 games. He edged out Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts and Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice.
Grigorenko said he was recovering from a bout of mononucleosis, which he got during the QMJHL playoffs. He said he will go to the NHL draft combine next week in Toronto but won’t take part in testing. Once considered top of the 2012 class, his draft stock plunged after a mediocre post-season.
”I expected this,” he said. ”During the season I had good games after I was (ranked) first or second, but after the playoffs I went down.”
Nail Yakupov, widely rated as the top pick, was given the Jack Link’s Top Prospect of the Year trophy after amassing 69 points in 42 games for the Sarnia Sting. Also considered were Grigorenko and Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray. Yakupov did not attend the awards ceremony.
The Old Dutch Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year award went to Jim Hiller of Tri-City, whose club went 50-18-2, best in the WHL west. Also considered were Francois Houle of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Greg Gilbert of the Saginaw Spirit.
Vincent Bernard of the Remparts got the Home Hardware Humanitarian of the Year trophy ahead of Andrew d’Agostini of the Peterborough Petes and Taylor Vause of the Swift Current Broncos.
Mark Stone of the Brandon Wheat Kings took the FRAM Sportsman of the Year trophy after finishing second in WHL scoring with 41 goals and 82 assists while taking just 22 penalty minutes. Also in the running were Brandon Saad of Saginaw and Zach O’Brien of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Jonathan Brunelle of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles got the Subway Scholastic Player of the Year award, edging Adam Pelech of the Erie Otters and Reid Gow of the Spokane Chiefs.