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Hennigar, Tchoualack named top university athletes

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The Canadian Press
4/28/2008 10:40:43 PM
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CALGARY - University of Montreal volleyball player Laetitia Tchoualack and University of New Brunswick hockey player Rob Hennigar were named Canada's best university athletes Monday at the BLG Awards.

Tchoualack, 26, and Hennigar, 25, each received a trophy and a $10,000 scholarship to attend graduate school at a Canadian university

The winners of the BLG Awards, established in 1993, are chosen based on athletic accomplishments, sportsmanship, leadership and academic excellence. They're sponsored by the national law firm Borden Ladner Gervais.

Both Tchoualack, from Paris, France, and Hennigar of Jordan, Ont., are the first BLG winners from their respective universities and Hennigar is the first male winner out of the Atlantic University Sport conference.

Hennigar was chosen the CIS men's hockey player of the year and won the CIS scoring title with 15 goals and 43 assists in 27 games.

The former Windsor Spitfire signed a two-year contract with the NHL's New York Islanders earlier this month.

Hennigar was a major contributor to New Brunswick's 26-win season. The Varsity Reds almost won back-to-back Canadian titles, but lost 3-2 in the CIS championship game to Alberta this year.

Hennigar's 58 points in the regular season were the highest in university men's hockey since 2000, when current Tampa Bay Lightning winger Mathieu Darche collected 62 for McGill

The five-foot-11, 200-pound Hennigar had 10 points in five AUS playoff victories and had another four points in three games at the University Cup.

''Rob has made a positive, significant difference in the success of our hockey program,'' UNB coach Gardiner MacDougall said. ''This season he has culminated his excellent four-year career by having his best campaign and leading our team to our best conference schedule ever.

''His competitive personality and strong leadership skills helped the V-Reds win a national championship a year ago and Team Canada win a gold medal at the Winter Universiade.''

Hennigar, a fourth-year kinesiology student, was chosen Canada's top male university athlete ahead of three other nominees: Bishop's football player Jamall Lee of Port Coquitlam, B.C.; Carleton basketball player Aaron Doornekamp of Odessa, Ont.; Winnipeg volleyball player Ben Schellenberg of Winnipeg.

Tchoualack was named CIS women's volleyball player of the year after leading the Montreal Carabins to a silver medal at the national championship.

Montreal lost a five-set final to British Columbia despite Tchoualack's match-high 29 kills.

The powerful five-foot-11 hitter led Canada with an average of 4.13 kills per set during conference play and stepped that up to 5.5 at the national championship.

Tchoualack, a third-year communications student, played professionally in France before coming to Canada in 2005 and has been named all-Canadian three straight seasons since then.

''Simply put, Laetitia is the best player I've had the privilege to coach in my career,'' Montreal head coach Olivier Trudel said. ''Once she gets going, she is almost unstoppable. The other teams have no other choice but to treat her with respect and prepare a game plan to try to stop her.

''She has had a major impact from the first day she joined our program and has taken our team to another level.''

The other nominees for the BLG female award were all basketball players: Memorial's Katherine Quackenbush of Halifax; McMaster's Lindsay DeGroot of Thedford, Ont.; Simon Fraser's Lani Gibbons of Salmon Arm, B.C.

Last year's winners were Calgary track star Jessica Zelinka and Trinity Western volleyball player Josh Howatson.

The 2008 awards ceremony will be broadcast on May 18 (TSN, 11 a.m. ET )

Hennigar and Tchoualack (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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