05/08/2013 10:10 AM
Article By: Nate Haeni
Rockford, Ill. – For the second time in less than a week a former Rockford IceHogs player has been selected as a finalist for an annual National Hockey League award. This time goaltender Antti Niemi has been named a finalist for the 2013 Vezina Trophy, given to the top goaltender in the NHL.
Niemi’s bid to be honored as the league’s best goaltender joins Brandon Saad, who was named a finalist on Monday for the NHL’s Calder Memorial Trophy as the best rookie.
Now with the San Jose Sharks, Niemi registered his fourth straight season with 20 or more wins, tying for the league lead with 24 wins. His four shutouts were second best in the NHL and his .924 save percentage ranked seventh.
Niemi, 29, spent the majority of the 2008-09 campaign in Rockford, splitting time with Corey Crawford in net and appearing in 38 contests for the IceHogs. The netminder posted a 18-14-3 record while ranking tenth in the American Hockey League with a 2.43 goals against average.
The Vantaa, Finland native suited up for 42 games for the Blackhawks in 2008-09 and 2009-10. His 35-18-6 record, along with his 2.25 goals against average and .912 save percentage helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Niemi joins Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers as finalists for the 2013 Vezina Trophy, awarded annually "to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position," as voted by the general managers of the 30 NHL clubs.