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Kiprusoff thrilled with nomination

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

DALLAS, TX -- Earlier today, Calgary Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff was announced as the team's nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

"It's an honour," the soft-spoken Finn said. "I've never been nominated before and it's nice.

"It's a nice thing. I heard Noodles, Jamie McLennan, won it once so I know it's a big thing."

The Masterton Trophy is awarded annually to a player that exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication. The winner is selected by a poll of members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

At the beginning of his NHL career, Kiprusoff was stuck behind starting goalie Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala in San Jose and wasn't able to gain a ton of playing time. The Flames saw the Finn's potential and dealt their second-round draft pick in 2005, which San Jose used to draft defenceman Marc-Edourard Vlasic, on Nov. 16, 2003. He has been Calgary's starting goaltender ever since.

"In San Jose, it was my goal to be a starting goalie and it didn't work out there," Kiprusoff said. "Here, I (got) a chance to be a starting goalie. It was one of my goals when I came over a long time ago.

"I've come a long way. I've been able to play a lot of games here every year."

Saying he has come a long way is putting it mildy.

Kiprusoff has made 13,027 saves since the NHL lockout. No other goalie in the NHL has stopped more shots in that span. He has rattled off seven straight seasons with 30 or more victories. He has 44 shutouts to his name. In 2005-06 season, he was awarded the Vezina Trophy and the William M. Jennings Trophy.

His international career is equally as illustrious. He has backstopped Finland to a bronze medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, two silver medals at the World Championships and a silver medal at the World Cup in 2004.

When asked about the accolades and accomplishments, he responded in true Kiprusoff fashion. Humble and to the point.

"I've been fortunate to play and stay healthy here for many years."

He reached two major milestones this season, surpassing Mike Vernon as the Flames all-time winning-est goaltender and recording his 300th career victory.

"It was a nice way to start the season. I think I was tied with Vernie there and it was a big thing. Also, later one, that 300th win, it's nice too. But again, right now, I'm looking forward to getting more and not think about those things right now too much."

The Masteron Trophy is often awarded to a player at the tail-end of his career but Kiprusoff is in his prime. He's in the midst of another stellar season and is the main reason why the Flames are competing for a playoff position. He has faced 1896 shots this year, stopping 1748 of them, and has a .922 save percentage through 65 games played. His GAA is an impressive 2.32 and has recorded four shutouts this season.

The 35 year-old shrugged off questions about age and who the Masterton is usually awarded to, pointing out several players who have continued to play at a high level through their late 30's and early 40's.

"If I remember right, Teemu Selanne won it in 2006 and he's still flying so I'm not worried about that.

"I'm not going to quit because of my age. Right now, I feel pretty good and try to do everything I can to keep it that way."

Two players have been awarded the Masterton Trophy during their tenure with the Flames. Gary Roberts was honoured in the 1995-96 season after his successful recovery from surgery that corrected bone spurs and nerve damage. Lanny MacDonald was awarded after the 1982-83 season for his unwavering dedication to the game. He recorded 66 goals and 98 points that year.

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