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MINARD NAMED WINNER OF AHL'S FRED T. HUNT MEMORIAL AWARD

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The American Hockey League announced on Friday that Grand Rapids Griffins left wing Chris Minard has been named the 2011-12 winner of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.

Minard, 30, missed the Griffins’ first 36 games this season while dealing with the continuing after-effects of a concussion suffered during the 2009-10 season. The Owen Sound, Ontario, native rejoined the Griffins on Jan. 15 at Charlotte and tallied two goals in his second game back. Minard went on to capture Reebok/AHL Player of the Month honors for February after racking up 13 points (8-5—13) and a plus-seven rating over 10 games during the month.

In just 33 games with Grand Rapids, Minard is tied for third on the club with 20 goals and leads all forwards with a plus-16 rating. After recording his third hat trick of the season – and fourth as a Griffin – on March 31 versus Oklahoma City, Minard trails only Donald MacLean (who had five hat tricks during his MVP season of 2005-06) on the team’s single-season and career leaderboards.

The 6-1, 200-pound forward spent most of his first four professional seasons in the ECHL and Central Hockey League before joining the AHL full-time in 2006-07. Now in his 10th professional season, Minard has skated in 365 career AHL contests with Milwaukee, Albany, Lowell, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Springfield and Grand Rapids, registering 271 points (158-113—271). He’s also appeared in 40 NHL games with Edmonton and Pittsburgh, serving as a “black ace” during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup championship season of 2008-09.

Minard is the first player in franchise history to win the award, which honors the late Fred T. Hunt, a long-time contributor to the league who won three Calder Cup championships as a player and three more as a general manager. Previous winners of the award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1978, include Ross Yates (1983), Glenn Merkosky (1987, ’91), Bruce Boudreau (1988), Murray Eaves (’89, ’90), John Anderson (1992), Tim Tookey (1993), Ken Gernander (1996, 2004), Randy Cunneyworth (2000), Mike Keane (2007), Ajay Baines (2009) and former Griffin Bryan Helmer (2011).

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