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WHL ANNOUNCES PLAYER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS

Calgary, AB – The Western Hockey League today announced the WHL Eastern and Western Conference finalists for the 2010-11 WHL Player of the Year.  The two finalists for WHL Player of the Year were determined through voting by General Managers, coaches, broadcast and media representatives of all WHL Member Clubs.

In the WHL’s Eastern Conference, which includes the East and Central Divisions, the Player of the Year Nominee is goaltender Darcy Kuemper of the Red Deer Rebels

Kuemper enjoyed an outstanding season for the Red Deer Rebels, backstopping them to their first Central Division title since the 2003-04 season.  The 20-year-old from Saskatoon, SK, appeared in 62 games for the Rebels during the 2010-11 WHL regular season, posting a 45-12-3-2 record as the Rebels finished with 104 points in the standings.

Kuemper led all WHL goaltenders in wins (45), goals-against average (1.86) and save percentage (.933) during the regular season, helping the Rebels to the WHL’s best defensive record.  In addition, Kuemper tied a WHL single-season record by posting 13 shutouts.  During the regular season, Kuemper maintained a high level of consistency, losing back-to-back decisions on only two occasions.  He was named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week on three different occasions during the regular season – the only goalie in the CHL to win the award three times this year – and was named the Vaughn WHL Goaltender of the Month for January.

Originally selected by the Spokane Chiefs in the 3rd round, 45th overall, of the 2005 WHL Bantam Draft, Kuemper was acquired by the Rebels in 2007 and has played 178 regular-season games for Red Deer over the last three seasons.  Kuemper was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the 6th round, 161st overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

In the WHL’s Western Conference, which includes the B.C. and U.S. Divisions, the Player of the Year Nominee is forward Tyler Johnson of the Spokane Chiefs.

Johnson, a 20-year-old from Spokane, WA, starred his hometown Chiefs during the 2010-11 WHL regular season, scoring 53 goals and 62 assists for 115 points in 71 games to lead the Chiefs to a 48-18-4-2 record for 102 points and a second-place finish in the U.S. Division.

Johnson finished first among all WHL players with 53 goals and finished second in the WHL scoring race with 115 points.  One of just two players to reach the 50-goal plateau this season, Johnson tied for fifth in the WHL with 17 power play markers, tied for second in the WHL with six shorthanded goals, and tied for 10th among WHL players with seven game-winning goals.  A consistent offensive producer for the Chiefs, Johnson recorded at least one point in 57 of the 71 games he played this season.  He was named the Husky WHL Player of the Month for December.

Johnson has played four seasons in the WHL, all with his hometown Chiefs, recording 128 goals and 154 assists for 282 points in 266 regular-season games.  The 5’9”, 175-lb center, who helped the Chiefs win the 2008 WHL Championship and MasterCard Memorial Cup, was never chosen in the NHL Entry Draft, but signed an entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning in March 2011. 

The recipients of all WHL individual awards will be announced at the 2011 WHL Awards Luncheon, which will be held in Calgary, Alberta, at the Round-Up Centre on Wednesday, May 4, 2011. 

2011 WHL Awards Finalists

WHL Player of the Year, Four Broncos Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Darcy Kuemper (Saskatoon, SK), Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference – Tyler Johnson (Spokane, WA), Spokane Chiefs

WHL Rookie of the Year, Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Matt Dumba (Calgary, AB), Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference – Sven Bartschi (Langenthal, SUI), Portland Winterhawks

WHL Goaltender of the Year, Del Wilson Trophy
Eastern Conference – Darcy Kuemper (Saskatoon, SK), Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference – James Reid (Calgary, AB), Spokane Chiefs

WHL Defenceman of the Year, Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Stefan Elliott (North Vancouver, BC), Saskatoon Blades
Western Conference – Tyson Barrie (Victoria, BC), Kelowna Rockets

WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player Award, Brad Hornung Trophy
Eastern Conference – Stefan Elliott (North Vancouver, BC), Saskatoon Blades
Western Conference – Tyler Johnson (Spokane, WA), Spokane Chiefs

WHL Scholastic Player of the Year, Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Adam Lowry (Calgary, AB), Swift Current Broncos
Western Conference – Colin Smith (Edmonton, AB), Kamloops Blazers

WHL Coach of the Year, Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Jesse Wallin, Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference –  Don Nachbaur, Spokane Chiefs

WHL Executive of the Year, Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Lorne Molleken, Saskatoon Blades
Western Conference – Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks

WHL Humanitarian of the Year, Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Spencer Edwards (Coquitlam, BC), Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference – Jeff Einhorn (Red Deer, AB), Chilliwack Bruins

WHL Marketing / Communications Award
Eastern Conference – Calgary Hitmen, Mike Moore
Western Conference – Tri-City Americans, Brian Sandy

WHL Regular Season Champions, Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy
Saskatoon Blades:   GP – 72     W – 56      L – 13      OTL – 1      SL – 2  Pts – 115

WHL Top Scorer – Bob Clarke Trophy
Linden Vey – (Wakaw, SK) Medicine Hat Tigers
GP – 69                        G – 46              A – 70               Pts – 116                      PIM – 36

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