Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The PIPE-ies: Top Agitator

After a week of collecting nominations from our audience and media colleagues, last night on TPS we made it official. The nominees in all 10 categories were announced and now the voting for the winners can begin.

After the jump, the names of the nominees in the category of Top Agitator in 2013-14 and why they made they are worthy of consideration. 

In alphabetical order, the five candidates vying for the crown as the best Pest-That-Can-Play from the 2013-14 season are...

Tyler Bertuzzi (Guelph Storm)

Photo: Aaron Bell
Injuries sidelined Bertuzzi for much of the 2013-14 campaign but when he did play he definitely made his presence known. An exceptional skater that loves to play the body, it's a combination that makes Bertuzzi an outstanding forechecker. He also loves to goad the opposition into taking penalties and isn't a stranger to embellishing to draw calls. In this Memorial Cup collision with Nikita Zadorov, Bertuzzi was hit dangerously but ended up not missing a shift despite appearing as though he'd been shot by a sniper from the rafters. Oh and he also had 52 points in a combined 47 games with Guelph through the regular season and playoffs then added 5 goals in 4 games at the Memorial Cup. 

Greg Chase (Calgary Hitmen)

Photo: Edmonton Journal
The winner of this award will be a player who can beat the opposition physically on the ice, on the scoreboard and mentally as well and Greg Chase can do all three. He led the Calgary Hitmen in scoring with 85 points but still kept the other team on their toes with his scrappy style of play. Not one to shy away from an accidental stick in the calf or a glove in the face, Chase told TPS listeners last night that there is more to being an agitator than that. He's also crossed his own line once or twice in the past including the time he scored a shootout winning goal in Edmonton and then proceeded to blow kisses at the Oil Kings bench.   

Dane Fox (Erie Otters) 

Photo: Aaron Bell
Undrafted and playing for a contract after an injury shortened season, Dane Fox had a lot to prove this past year in Erie and he did it. He scored a league high 64 goals, 15 more than the next highest sorer in the OHL, but also showed his gritty side in picking up 122 PIMs. For his efforts, Fox was signed by the Vancouver Canucks and is expected to play for their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, this coming season.

Brendan Leipsic (Portland Winterhawks)

It's fitting that the Winterhawks have adopted the Evil Empire motif because the organization likes to play the villain role and no one more so than 5'10, 180 lbs Brendan Leipsic. A classic case of "Hate to play against him, love to have him on my team", Leipsic is as chippy as they come but is also deadly in the offensive zone. The Winnipeg native produced 91 points this year in 60 games, not a full season because he was serving 3 suspensions over the course of the regular season and playoffs. A tenacious forechecker who loves to attack the net, Leipsic has often played with high skilled linemates but he's always been the engine that makes his line go. 

Emile Poirier (Gatineau Olympiques)

The Calgary Flames surprise pick in 2013 showed skeptics why he was deserving of being taken 22nd overall that June. Poirier finished top-10 in scoring with 87 points but also racked up 129 PIMs playing in 63 regular season games for Gatineau. Known more for his speed and skill set more than for being a "sandpaper" player, Poirier was one of only two players inside the QMJHL's top 40 of scoring to also surpass the 100 PIMs plateau this past year. 

We are collecting votes for the next week until Tuesday August 19th when we announce the winners of the 2014 PIPE-ies. If you want to cast your vote, let us hear it. Tweet us at @TPS_Guy and @DuckMillard and include the hashtag #TPSAwards in your vote.     

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