Monarchs’ LaBarbera named AHL’s outstanding goalie

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Jason LaBarbera of the Manchester Monarchs has been named the winner of the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender for the 2006-07 season, as voted by players and members of the media in each of the league’s 27 cities.

A 2006-07 First Team AHL All-Star, LaBarbera (39-20-1) has been the busiest goaltender in the American Hockey League, leading the league in appearances (62), minutes played (3,619), shots faced (1,995) and saves (1,862). He is also first in wins (39), first in save percentage (.933), tied for first in shutouts (7) and fourth in goals-against average (2.21) while anchoring the AHL’s top-ranked defense and backstopping Manchester to the Atlantic Division championship. LaBarbera was voted a starter for the Canadian team at the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, and was the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month for January.

LaBarbera becomes the second goaltender since the Baz Bastien Award was first presented in 1984 to win it twice, having first claimed the honor in 2003-04. The 27-year-old native of Burnaby, B.C., was a third-round draft pick by the New York Rangers in 1998. He has compiled a record of 131-75-20 in 247 AHL games over seven professional seasons, and ranks sixth all-time with 28 career AHL shutouts. LaBarbera has also appeared in 34 career NHL contests with the Rangers and Los Angeles, posting a record of 12-11-2.

The Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award, which was first presented in 1984, honors former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager “Baz” Bastien, who played four seasons in goal with the AHL’s Pittsburgh Hornets (1945-49) before suffering a career-ending eye injury. Bastien would go on to serve as head coach and general manager of the Hornets, leading them to the 1967 Calder Cup championship.

Previous winners of the award include Sam St. Laurent (1986), Mark Laforest (1987, ’91), Felix Potvin (1992), Manny Legace (1996), Jean-Francois Labbe (1997), Martin Biron (1999), Dwayne Roloson (2001), Martin Prusek (2002), Ryan Miller (2005) and Dany Sabourin (2006).

Now in its 71st season of play, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 83 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 6.3 million fans have attended AHL games across North America in each of the past five seasons. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.