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Harris named province’s outstanding male athlete

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After a solid season with the B.C. Lions and being named the outstanding Canadian in the Grey Cup game, running back Andrew Harris was selected by the province’s sports media as the male athlete of the year for 2011. Chantal Van Landeghem, who won five medals at the FINA World Junior Swimming Championships, took the female award. Jeff Stoughton’s world champion curling team was voted team of the year. The Manitoba Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association announced the winners at its annual awards dinner on Jan. 29.

Harris learned his football at Oak Park High School and then played junior with the Vancouver Island Raiders. He led the Lions in rushing with 458 yards and added 395 yards pass receiving. He scored two touchdowns in the Western final and another in B.C.’s 34-23 victory over Winnipeg in the Grey Cup. In world junior swimming, Van Landeghem won silver medals in the 100-metre freestyle and the 4 x 100-metre freestyle relay. She also came home with bronze medals in the 50-metre backstroke, freestyle and butterfly.  

Before winning the world title in Regina, Stoughton’s Charleswood team of Jon Mead, Reid Carruthers and Steve Gould won the Canadian Brier. The Canadian midget hockey champion Winnipeg Thrashers were runners-up. Also on the ballot were the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and from Western Manitoba, Kelly Robertson’s Canadian Senior Curling champions and Brandon Bobcats, silver medallists in CIS volleyball.

Ryan Marsch of the Winnipeg Rifles, winner of the Peter Della Riva Award as Canadian Junior Football’s offensive player of the year, was the runner-up in the male competition. Doug Brown of the Bombers, a CFL Division all-star for the sixth consecutive season, world-class bowler Mike Schmidt and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews also were finalists.

On the women’s side, Canadian triathlon champion Sarah-Anne Brault finished second. The 2009 winner Jennifer Saunders, who won her fourth Canadian singles racquetball crown, Desiree Scott,  a Team Canada soccer player, and Jocelyne Larocque, a first-team All-American hockey player at Minnesota-Duluth and a member of Team Canada, were  the other contenders.

There wasn’t much discussion on the winner of the Cactus Jack Wells Memorial Award for the greatest impact on the local sports scene. It went to the rebirth of the Winnipeg Jets. Hector Vergara of the Manitoba Soccer Association was named winner of the Dallis Beck Memorial Good Guy/Good Gal Award for exceptional service to the media and to his sport. Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press was inducted into the MSSA Media Roll of Honour for his outstanding service in sports journalism.

Keith Borkowsky of the Brandon Sun is the MSSA president for 2012 succeeding Kirk Penton of the Winnipeg Sun. Sun sports editor Ted Wyman is the first vice-president. Terry Frey, the long-time sports reporter for the Steinbach Carillon, will serve as second VP. Jewish Post & News sports columnist Harvey Rosen, who also freelances for  Broadcast News, and Resby Coutts of the are directors along with Ernie Nairn, who secretary-treasurer Bob Picken described as being "recycled." The former CBC sportscaster had a stint as president of the MSSA. Glen Dawkins of the Sun will backup Picken.

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Last week was a sad one for the local hockey community that said goodbye to Doug Smith on Jan. 26 and Jerry Kruk on Jan. 28. Both lost battles with cancer.

Smith began playing the game at Weston Community Club and spent a year of junior with the Winnipeg Monarchs of the MJHL before joining the junior Jets in the club’s first season in the Western League. In 1968 in a NHL draft of players not on sponsorship lists, he was chosen 13th overall by the Oakland Seals. His North End Winnipeg and Jets teammates Jim Pritchard and Jim Benzelock also were selected. After  another season with the Jets where he was the team’s leading scorer with 83 points and some epic battles with the Flin Flon Bombers, Smith turned pro in 1969-70 and played four seasons He was with Nashville in the EHL, Denver in the WHL and Kansas City of the CHL.

When he returned to Winnipeg, he got a job with the City of Winnipeg flooding outdoor rinks. He spent 32 years with the City and for a number of years was well-known in the media as the head dog catcher. He continued to play hockey first with the St. Boniface Mohawks of the CASH League and for many years with the Steelers whose home is Canlan Sports. Smitty was one of those guys you always enjoyed seeing and he will be missed.

Kruk played minor hockey for Vince Leah’s Excelsiors and then junior with the St. Boniface Canadiens. In the spring of 1959, he was picked up by the Winnipeg Braves team that won the Canadian junior championship. His junior career with the Canadiens ended in the spring of 1960 and not long after at age 20 he graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Manitoba. He then played pro for several seasons in the IHL.

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