SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The American Hockey League announced that former ECHL goaltenders Jason LaBarbera (pictured) and Steve Valiquette of Hartford have won the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award for 2004-05. The award has been presented since 1972 to the goaltender(s) appearing in at least 25 games for the team which allows the fewest goals in the regular season.
LaBarbera played in the ECHL with Charlotte (2000-02) while Valiquette played with Dayton (1996-97), Hampton Roads (1998-99) and Trenton (1999-2000).
The ECHL has affiliations with 24 of the 28 teams in the AHL and with 23 of the 30 teams in the National Hockey League.
Hartford was 50-24-3-3 and allowed only 160 goals, the third-lowest total in an 80-game AHL regular season, and the Wolf Pack is on its way to the postseason for the eighth season in a row.
Valiquette (1.77) and LaBarbera (1.84) are the first teammates since Sherbrooke’s Jean-Claude Bergeron and Andre Racicot in 1989-90 to finish first and second in the league in goals-against average.
In 2003-04 with Hartford, LaBarbera was 32-9-9 and set an AHL record with 13 shutouts while his goals against average of 1.60 was second in league history and his save percentage of .936 was the third best in AHL history. He was named as the Most Valuable Player of the American Hockey League while also being selected as the AHL Goaltender of the Year and voted First Team AHL All-Star.
LaBarbera became the fourth ECHL player to be named AHL MVP, joining Eric Boguniecki in 2001-02, Martin Brochu in 1999-2000, and Brad Smyth in 1995-96, and he is the sixth ECHL goaltender to be named AHL Goaltender of the Year, joining Marc Lamothe in 2002-03, Martin Brochu in 1999-2000, Martin Biron in 1998-99, Manny Legace in 1995-96, and Frederic Chabot in 1993-94.
In his first professional season in 2000-01 with Charlotte, LaBarbera was 18-10-7 with a goals against average of 3.20 and a save percentage of .910 in 35 regular season games and 1-1 with a goals against average of 2.09 and a save percentage of .945 in two Kelly Cup Playoff games. In 2001-02 with Charlotte, LaBarbera was 9-3-1 with a goals against average of 2.34 and a save percentage of .924 in 13 regular season games and 2-2 with a goals against average of 3.39 and a save percentage of .910 in four Kelly Cup Playoff games.