KENNEWICK -- The accolades just keep pouring in for Brendan Shinnimin.
The Tri-City Americans overage forward who led the Western Hockey League in scoring this season with 134 points was named the Western Conference Player of the Year on Friday afternoon, prior to Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Portland Winterhawks.
"When I came into this year, one of my goals was to earn an NHL contract, and my secondary goal was to lead the league in scoring," said Shinnimin, who signed an NHL contract with the Phoenix Coyotes in March. "I think having accomplished both of those things is pretty neat. Whenever your dreams come true it leaves you speechless. It's an honor to be named the Western Conference Player of the Year. There were plenty of players who were worthy of this nomination. It's a pretty big honor to represent the West."
Shinnimin and Medicine Hat's Emerson Etem are the finalists for the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy, which will be handed out during the WHL awards ceremony May 2 in Calgary, Alberta.
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"Brendan had an outstanding season, leading the league in scoring and winning the Bob Clarke Trophy," WHL commissioner Ron Robison said. "It was the most points scored in the league since the 1998-99 season (when Pavel Brendl of Calgary scored 134 points). He had a remarkable February. It's almost hard to believe in junior hockey terms, and I'm sure this is a league record of sorts, and most certainly a modern era record, 43 points, including 23 goals in just 14 games. He went on a tear. We thought we had a scoring race and he just pulled away and it was all his down the stretch."
Shinnimin also led the CHL (WHL, OHL and QMJHL) in the scoring. Tyler Toffoli of the Ottawa 67's led the OHL with 99 points, while Yanni Gourde of the Victoriaville Tigres led the QMJHL with 122 points.
Shinnimin, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was one of three Tri-City players to have more than 100 points this season (Adam Hughesman 116, Patrick Holland 109), and he admitted that he couldn't have scored 58 goals and 134 points by himself.
"No player can play by himself and win by himself," said Shinnimin, who also was named a Western Conference first-team All-Star in March. "I have to give a lot of credit to guys like Adam Hughesman and Patrick Holland and Mason Wilgosh, guys who really contributed to my success. As much as it's nice to get the credit, a lot of it goes to the other players."
Colton Yellow Horn was the last Tri-City player to be named Western Conference Player of the Year (2007-08). Karl Alzner of the Calgary Hitmen won the trophy that year.
The last U.S. Division player to win the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy was Seattle's Cody Rudkowsky during the 1998-99 season, and the last Western Conference player to win the honor was Dan Hamhuis of Prince George in 2002.
Americans co-owner Stu Barnes (1988-89) is the only Tri-City player to win the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy.
"I think Brendan has shown from Day 1 when he got here how determined he is to be a good hockey player and how competitive he is," said Barnes, who is in Kennewick this weekend for the first two games of the conference finals. "For him, that came out this year. You saw the incredible season he had and the incredible drive he has to win night after night. He should be very honored. He has been a big part of the team. The entire group is a proud group."
* Annie Fowler: 509-582-1574; email@example.com