Hartford Wolf Pack goaltender Jason LaBarbera and team captain Ken Gernander were multiple award winners at ceremonies before and after the team's last game of the regular season tonight at the Civic Center. The Pack won 2-1 over Providence, clinching the Eastern Conference regular season championship and the Frank S. Mathers Trophy. The Pack also finished the year with just 22 losses - the fewest among all 28 American Hockey League clubs.
Prior to the game, LaBarbera was presented league trophies by AHL President Dave Andrews for Goaltender of the Year, First Team All-Star and League MVP. Andrews also presented the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Trophy to Gernander for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey and the Emile Francis trophy to the team, for winning the Atlantic Division.
Post-game, the team served up its annual hardware. Netminder Phil Osaer won the Community Service Award, Ken Gernander took the Bob Girouard Character Award and the team trophy for the American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year. The Booster Club presented the Fan Favorite Award to Ken Gernander, Rookie of the Year to Dominic Moore and the Unsung Hero Award to Craig Weller.
The Best Defenseman, as voted on by the team, went to Lawrence Nycholat, and Jason LaBarbera was voted MVP by both the team and fans.
The win means the club finishes the year with 102 points, and home ice advantage through the conference finals. The Calder Cup 2004 Playoffs get underway Wednesday. The Pack will face the winner of the Providence - Portland qualifying round (best of three).