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Tri-City Americans forward Brendan Shinnimin wins big at WHL awards

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CALGARY - Brendan Shinnimin piled up points in 2011-12 at a rate that hasn't been reached in the Western Hockey League in more than a decade.

Shinnimin was recognized for his outstanding season with a pair of trophies at the WHL awards luncheon Wednesday.

The Tri-City Americans forward captured both the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy as the WHL's player of the year and the Bob Clarke Trophy as the league's top scorer.

"Obviously you look at the Western Hockey League and the guys that they produce and even the young guys coming up and it's a huge honour," said Shinnimin, who scored 58 goals and added 76 assists in 69 games. "For me to be able to earn player of the year and top scorer it feels good and it's something I've worked for (in) my five-year junior career."

Shinnimin's point total was the highest for a WHL player since the 1998-99 season when Pavel Brendl of the Calgary Hitmen also had 134 points.

Not bad for a player who was never chosen in the WHL Bantam Draft.

"Not being drafted there and being told I was too small, (that) I was never going to play, it made me want to make it even more," said the five-foot-10, 175-pound centre, who beat out Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers to earn player of the year accolades. "To be able to have that drive is something that you can't find in everyone. I think I've developed that just from playing in the Western Hockey League and just trying to follow a dream."

Although Shinnimin was never selected in the NHL Entry Draft, the 21-year-old Winnipeg native recently signed a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes.

"To win these two awards and then to eventually sign with the Phoenix Coyotes is a dream come true," said Shinnimin, who will join the Coyotes for their playoff drive although, he doesn't expect to play in any games this post-season. "It's obviously a huge opportunity to just be able to practise with the guys and to be around the team and see what it takes to get to that next level and what kind of lifestyle that they live. To be able to watch some outstanding playoff hockey, it's going to be quite the experience."

Also on Wednesday, Alex Petrovic of the Red Deer Rebels won the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as league's top defenceman, while Tyler Bunz of the Tigers took the Del Wilson Trophy as the WHL's goaltender of the year.

"It's just a great honour," said Bunz, a fifth-round pick of the Edmonton Oilers in the 2010 NHL draft. "I'm looking forward to moving on with my career and using this as a backbone for confidence."

Mark Stone of the Brandon Wheat Kings took home the Brad Hornung Trophy as most sportsmanlike player, while Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice captured the Jim Piggot Memorial Trophy as the league's rookie of the year.

"It's really excited seeing Stone and Shinnimin and all the top guys in this league," Reinhart said. "I've got a long way to go to be like them. It was a great experience for me coming here."

Taylor Vause of the Swift Current Broncos won the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy as the WHL humanitarian of the year, while Reid Gow of the Spokane Chiefs captured the Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy as the league's scholastic player of the year.

The Edmonton Oil Kings were recognized as the WHL scholastic team of the year and the Moose Jaw Warriors won the WHL marketing and communications award.

Tri-City bench boss Jim Hiller won the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as WHL coach of the year, while Edmonton general manager Bob Green took home the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy as the league's top executive.

Although Edmonton finished first in the league with a 50-15-7 record for 107 points and have gone 12-1 so far in the playoffs, Green said the Oil Kings won't be satisfied until they can pull off what the Ice and Hitmen have done the previous two seasons when their Eastern Conference rivals captured the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions.

"We haven't broke new ground or anything," Green said. "We've got a ways to go yet before we achieve what those teams have achieved. The next series is going to go a long ways to determining that."

The WHL championship series will starts Thursday when the Oil Kings host the Portland Winterhawks in Game 1.

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