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Top prospect Grigorenko headlines QMJHL awards

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Associated Press
4/4/2012 11:12:00 PM
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MONTREAL -- Top prospect Mikhail Grigorenko earned plenty of hardware at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's annual Golden Puck Awards on Wednesday night.

Nominated for five awards, Grigorenko claimed three including the RDS Cup (Rookie of the Year), Michael Bossy Trophy (Top Professional Prospect) and the Michel Bergeron Trophy (Offensive Rookie of the Year).

The latter was awarded during a pre-game ceremony on March 23.

"It was a pretty good year," said the skilled Quebec Remparts centre, who had 40 goals and 45 assists in 59 games. "I had a few injuries and didn't like that but that's hockey.

"I really wanted this at the start of the year," a beaming Grigorenko added. "I worked hard and I'm happy to have earned it."

In taking home top prospect and rookie honours, the 17-year-old Russian beat out a pair of notable Halifax Mooseheads in Martin Frk (also 2012 draft eligible) and Nathan MacKinnon (eligible in 2013), respectively.

With the NHL season in its final days, Grigorenko admits to glancing at the standings to see where he might end up. But with the second round of the QMJHL post-season set to get under way, the draft isn't his main concern.

"My focus is on the playoffs right now but I know that if I play well in the playoffs, it will be really good for my draft," he said. "I'm trying not to think about the draft but sometimes you can't help it."

Grigorenko has been honing his skills under the watchful eye of Remparts head coach and general manager Patrick Roy. He credits the Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender for rounding out his game as he aims to leave a lasting impression ahead of the draft at the end of June.

"He taught me to play as a two-way forward, in the defensive zone, without the puck and I'm getting better every day," he said. "He always tries to talk to me and always help me with what I need to do on the ice."

Roy was up for Coach of the Year but didn't attend the league's gala. He has been a hot topic of late with the Montreal Canadiens already looking for a new general manager and likely a new coach as well at season's end.

Jean-Francois Houle of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada was named Coach of the Year. The son of former Canadien and current Habs alumni president Rejean Houle, he guided the surprising Armada to top spot in their division in his first year behind the team's bench. In addition to Roy, Houle also edged out Gerard Gallant of the Saint John Sea Dogs, the defending QMJHL and Memorial Cup champs.

"I'm thankful to Joel Bouchard for giving me this opportunity," Houle said of his general manager, who was named the league's top GM.

"I see this as a reflection of our work as a team. With Stephane Matteau and Joel Bouchard as assistants and the consistent effort of our players all year long, I'm happy to represent the Armada," Houle said of his team, which moved from Montreal after being sold last year.

Saint John players won several awards, with goaltender Mathieu Corbeil earning the Jacques Plante Trophy and Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau named the Paul Dumont Trophy as Personality of the Year. The Sea Dogs finished atop the QMJHL's standings for a third straight season, retaining the Jean Rougeau Trophy as the league's regular season champions.

Victoriaville Tigres forward Yanni Gourde took home with the Jean Beliveau (top scorer) and Michel Briere (MVP) trophies.

Other winners included: Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (Rimouski Oceanic) as the league's best defenceman; Zach O'Brien (Acadie-Bathurst Titan) for sportsman of the year; Jonathan Brunelle (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles) was named the top scholastic player; and Vincent Barnard (Quebec Remparts) was singled out for his humanitarian and community involvement.

Mikhail Grigorenko (Photo: QMJHL)

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(Photo: QMJHL)
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