Aucoin, Giroux win AHL scoring races

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … Hershey Bears teammates Keith Aucoin and Alexandre Giroux have capped a regular season for the history books with two more honors. Aucoin has secured the John B. Sollenberger Trophy as the leading scorer in the American Hockey League, while Giroux has claimed the Willie Marshall Award as the AHL’s leading goal scorer for the 2009-10 campaign.

A First Team AHL All-Star and the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player, Aucoin scored a career-best 35 goals and led the AHL with 71 assists and 106 points in 72 games for Hershey, set an AHL record with 60 victories on the year. Aucoin recorded an assist in 16 straight games from Dec. 27 to Jan. 31 – one shy of the all-time league record, and had at least two points in a game nearly twice as often (31 times) as he was held scoreless (18 times).

This is Aucoin’s first scoring title after finishing second in 2007 and 2009. A native of Waltham, Mass., Aucoin has recorded 194 goals and 441 assists (18th all-time) for 635 points (31st all-time) in 577 career AHL games.

The AHL’s leading-scorer trophy was originally named after Wally Kilrea, who held the AHL’s single-season scoring record when the award was instituted in 1947-48. That year, Carl Liscombe broke Kilrea’s record, and the award was renamed in his honor. In 1955, the AHL Board of Governors voted to name the trophy after John B. Sollenberger, a long-time contributor to the league as manager and president of the Hershey Bears and former Chairman of the AHL Board of Governors. Previous winners of the John B. Sollenberger Trophy include Fred Glover (1957, ’60), Willie Marshall (1958), Bill Sweeney (1961, ’62, ’63), Don Blackburn (1972), Paul Gardner (1985, ’86), Bruce Boudreau (1988), Peter White (1995, ’97, ’98), Derek Armstrong (2001), Jason Spezza (2005), Darren Haydar (2007), Jason Krog (2008) and Alexandre Giroux (2009).

Giroux scored 50 goals in 2009-10, including 13 goals in 10 games to finish the regular season. He becomes the sixth player in AHL history to score at least 50 twice in his career, and the fourth to do it in back-to-back seasons. Giroux is also the seventh AHL player ever to lead the league in goals twice, and the fifth to do that two years in a row. Giroux, a First Team AHL All-Star at left wing, also set career highs with 53 assists and 103 points for Hershey this season. In 636 career AHL games, the Quebec City native has 308 goals (T-17th all-time) and 264 assists for 572 points.

The AHL’s goal-scoring award was established in 2004 to honor Willie Marshall, the AHL’s all-time leader in goals, assists, points and games played. During his 20-year AHL playing career, Marshall won three Calder Cup championships (1955, 1958, 1959) and one scoring title. Jeff Hamilton (2004), Mike Cammalleri (2005), Donald MacLean (2006), Denis Hamel (2006), Brett Sterling (2007) and Jason Krog (2008) were the first winners of the Willie Marshall Award. Other previous yearly goal-scoring leaders include Bryan Hextall (1937), Lou Trudel (1942, ’45), Fred Glover (1951), Dunc Fisher (1958), Jimmy Anderson (1961, ’64), Yvon Lambert (1973), Gordie Clark (1980), Paul Gardner (1985, ’86), Jody Gage (1988) and Brad Smyth (1996, 2001).

Currently in its 74th season of play, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 58 million fans have attended AHL games across North America over the past nine years. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway on Wednesday.