Nine finalists have been determined for the RBC Financial Group/Canadian junior A player of the year award.
Three league scoring champions and one league-leading goalie are among the list of candidates for the award won last year by Nick Johnson of the St. Albert Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Andre Gill, David Besner, Brennan Sarazin, Andrew Cogliano, Kyle Jones, Ryan Garbutt, Chris Korchinski, Rob Nolan and Michael Olson are the league nominees from coast to coast.
Gill was the Maritime Junior ‘A’ Hockey League scoring champion with the Miramichi, N. B., Timberwolves. He led the league with 105 points, was second in the league with 43 goals and 62 assists in 56 regular-season games.
Besner duplicated Gill’s feat with les Braves de Valleyfield of la Ligue de Hockey Junior AAA du Quebec. Besner led the league with 52 goals and 105 points and was third in the league with 53 assists in 45 games during the regular schedule.
Gill and Besner tied for the Canadian Junior ‘A’ Hockey League scoring lead. Besner was the only player in the CJAHL with 50 goals and Gill tied for fifth in the CJAHL in assists.
Sarazin helped the Nepean Raiders finish first in the Yzerman Division and overall in the Central Junior Hockey League in eastern Ontario. He led Nepean with 26 goals and had 55 points in 47 games.
Cogliano led the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League with 66 assists and 102 points in 49 games with the league champion St. Michael’s Buzzers. He was second in the CJAHL with his assist total and was third behind Gill and Besner in points.
Jones had 28 assists and 37 points in 48 games as a veteran defenceman with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Junior ‘A’ Hockey League.
Garbutt led the Manitoba Junior Hockey League with 47 goals and tied for second in the league with 81 points in 63 games with the Winnipeg South Blues. Garbutt tied for fourth in the CJAHL in goals.
Korchinski was second in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League with 32 goals and was fourth in the league with 67 points in 55 games with the league champion Yorkton Terriers.
Nolan led the Alberta Junior Hockey League with a league record 1.75 goals against average and .929 saves percentage in 2,604 minutes with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. He tied for the league lead with five shutouts, tied for second in the CJAHL with his goals against average and shutout total and had the third highest saves percentage in the CJAHL.
Olson led the Nanaimo Clippers to first place in the Island Division, Mainland Conference and overall in the British Columbia Hockey League. He had 32 goals and 70 points in 60 games.
Mike Comrie of the Phoenix Coyotes and Dany Heatley of the Atlanta Thrashers of the National Hockey League are among the former recipients of the award.
Comrie played for St. Albert in 1997-98. Heatley was with the Calgary Canucks of the AJHL in 1998-99.
Johnson led the Dartmouth College Big Green of the Eastern College Athletic Conference with 18 goals and
had 35 points in 35 games as a freshman this season.
The award winner will be announced at the RBC Royal Bank Cup national junior A championship banquet May 13 in Weyburn, Sask.
Please check the CJAHL web site at www.cjahl.com for all your Canadian junior A information