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Karl Alzner of Calgary Hitmen named WHL player of year and top defenceman

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
Karl Alzner

CALGARY - Karl Alzner of the Calgary Hitmen was named both player of the year and top defenceman in the Western Hockey League on Wednesday.

The captain of the Canadian team that won a gold medal at the world junior hockey championship in January was the winner of the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, given annually in memory of the four Swift Current Broncos who died in a bus crash in 1986.

Alzner, drafted fifth overall by the Washington Capitals in last year's NHL entry draft, also took the Bill Hunter Trophy as top defenceman. Alzner had seven goals and 29 assists and was plus-26 in 60 games with the Hitmen this season.

The 19-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., played a gruelling 95-game season, including 18 games with Canada's junior team in a Super Series against Russia last fall, the world junior tournament, plus an exhibition game with the Capitals.

The Hitmen were swept in four games by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference final. Lethbridge and the Spokane Chiefs open the WHL final Friday in Spokane.

Alzner is a smart, stay-at-home defenceman who plays mistake-free hockey in his own end and uses his six-foot-two, 209-pound frame to shut down the opposing team's attack.

He's won two gold medals at the world junior championship and was the lone 18-year-old defenceman among 19-year-olds on Canada's blue-line at the 2007 tournament.

Alzner is the second straight player to win both league MVP and top defenceman after Kris Russell of the Medicine Hat Tigers picked up both trophies last year.

Previous winners of the Four Broncos Trophy include Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward (Red Deer Rebels, 2004) and Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla (Kamloops Blazers, 1996). Alzner finishes his four-year junior career with 19 goals and 98 assists in 260 regular-season games for the Hitmen and another eight goals and 17 assists in 59 post-season games.

He is one of three candidates for the Canadian Hockey League's MVP award which will be announced at the Memorial Cup in Kitchener, Ont., in May.

The other nominees are Kitchener Rangers forward Justin Azevedo, who was named the Ontario Hockey League's outstanding player Tuesday, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League MVP Francis Pare of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.

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