Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Winnipeg's Shinnimin named WHL's best

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CALGARY -- Ignored in the Western Hockey League's 2006 bantam draft and passed over in consecutive NHL entry drafts, Brendan Shinnimin has always played with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

But nothing said 'I told you so' quite like the two pieces of hardware -- the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy given to the league's top player and the Bob Clarke Trophy awarded to the league's top scorer -- he held under his arm on Wednesday in Calgary after the Western Hockey League's annual awards lunch.

It also said a whole lot about the five-foot-10, 175-pounder's maturity and growth as a player through his time spent in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans.

"Being told I was too small, that I was never going to play -- it made me want to make it even more," Shinnimin said. "To be able to have that drive is something you can't find in everyone.

"I think I've developed that in the Western Hockey League and just tried to follow a dream."

For four seasons, he did that in Kennewick, Wash., a long ways away from where he grew up in Winnipeg.

Now after a ridiculous 134-point, 58-goal season to cap off his WHL career, the dream is continuing for Shinnimin who signed a free-agent contract with the Phoenix Coyotes at the beginning of March.

Immediately following Thursday's award ceremony, he hopped a flight from Calgary to Phoenix to join the squad, amid an NHL playoff run against the Nashville Predators.

"I went there for camp at the beginning of the season and they offered me an AHL contract but I respectfully turned it down," said Shinnimin. "I felt like me going back to junior was a good idea."

Shinnimin beat out Emerson Etem of the Medicine Hat Tigers for the nod. Etem, an Anaheim Ducks prospect, hit the 61-goal mark in just 65 games this season.

-- Postmedia News

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 3, 2012 C2

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