Pens’ Carkner wins Yanick Dupre Memorial Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League has announced that Matt Carkner of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins has been selected the winner of the Yanick Dupré Memorial Award as the 2006-07 American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year.

The award is presented annually to an AHL player for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations.

Carkner, 26, arrived in Wilkes-Barre this season with a history of charitable activities, having been a three-time nominee for the Yanick Dupré Award while with the Cleveland Barons. Just a week into his stint with the Penguins, Carkner approached the team about continuing a program he had started in Cleveland called Carks’ Kids, providing underprivileged children with the means for a happy holiday season. Working with the United Way and the Salvation Army, Carkner and his teammates purchased and donated gifts for youngsters at the Kirby Family House, a facility that houses families trying to get back on their feet after hardship.

Carkner’s work with the American Cancer Society led to a special Cancer Awareness Night at the Penguins’ home game on Mar. 30. Carkner, whose mother was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year, wore a special pink-trimmed jersey during warm-ups, which was raffled off during the evening. Fans also won the chance to shave the heads of Carkner and two teammates at center ice after the game. All told, more than $8,200 was raised for the American Cancer Society and the Penguins/United Way Charity Fund.

A native of Winchester, Ont., Carkner is in his first season in Wilkes-Barre and his sixth in the American Hockey League.

The AHL’s annual Man of the Year award is named after the late Yanick Dupré, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 24 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. A second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1991, Dupré played four seasons in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, and participated in the 1995 AHL All-Star Game. Previous winners of the award include John Jakopin (1998), Brent Thompson (1999), Mike Minard (2000, 2001), Travis Roche (2002), Jimmy Roy (2003), Kurtis Foster (2004), Duncan Milroy (2005) and Mitch Fritz (2006).

Carkner will be presented with the Yanick Dupré Award and a check for $500 on Friday evening, in an on-ice presentation prior to the Penguins’ game against Hershey at the Wachovia Arena.

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.