VANCOUVER — Miikka Kiprusoff was named the National Hockey League's best goaltender on Thursday.
That comes as no surprise to loyal Calgary Flames fans who have seen Kiprusoff's acrobatic, game-stealing saves since he donned a Flames jersey in November, 2003.
His performance in 2005-06 has garnered him the Vezina Trophy as the top goaltender in the league as voted on by the 30 general managers as he received 25 first place votes.
Miikka Kiprusoff bio and stats
Kiprusoff was also named to the NHL's first all-star team.
Up against some tough competition in New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, a perennial Vezina contender and winner the last two years, and New York's rookie Henrik Lundqvist, who won 30 games, Kiprusoff's league-leading 10 shutouts and 2.07 goals against average prevailed.
The Finnish-born goaltender was not in attendance at the NHL Awards banquet, a preclude to Saturday's NHL Entry Draft, as he is back home in Finland with his family.
But the CBC, which hosted the event, used a young Calgary fan to help present Kiprusoff's other award, the William Jennings Trophy for allowing the fewest goals against during the regular season.
The young boy, who was outfitted in a signed Kiprusoff jersey and was given one of the goaltender's sticks by the Flames organization, was shown during the season on CBC broadcasts doing Kiprusoff imitations.
"He was a big part of everything we did this year," Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, in Vancouver for the NHL Awards evening as a nominee as the top rookie, said of Kiprusoff.
"He is very sound. Every night. He is very consistent not just in games, but also in practice. He is a hard-working guy."
Kiprusoff, who has a 1.84 goals against average as a Flame, set a record for wins by a goalie in a Flames uniform with 42, surpassing Mike Vernon's 39 wins in 1989. Kiprusoff played in 74 games, posting a 42-20-11 record.
Kiprusoff was also nominated for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player. That honour went to Joe Thornton of the San Jose. The Sharks were in a 10-game skid when Thornton arrived and then went on a tear to finish five in the Western Conference. Thornton won the scoring championship with 125 points while his Shark linemate, Jonathan Cheechoo, buried 49 goals. Jaromir Jagr, who led the New York Rangers into the post season for the first time in eight years, was also nominated for the Hart.
There's little doubt that Kiprusoff was the Flames most valuable player this season. He won the Molson Cup three-star voting and, in a survey of Flames fans on calgaryflames.com, Kiprusoff edged out captain Jarome Iginla as the fan favourite.
"He is simply great to have on your team. I can't say how much he meant to our team last year," said Phaneuf, who was named to the all-rookie team.
"I think Miikka had a great year and I think all the people here would agree that he was among the top, if not the top, player in the league this year. He played a lot of hockey and he did it night after night for us."
2006 Entry Draft at a Glance
The Flames have nine picks in the 2006 draft.
They will pick 26th in the first round.
Calgary has one pick in every round except for the third and seventh rounds, where they will have two picks.
Flames Draft Order
Central Scouting Rankings
North American Skaters | North American Goalies
European Skaters | European Goalies
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Remember, calgaryflames.com will be at the draft providing inside coverage of the Calgary Flames picks at the 2006 Entry Draft.