Bulldog Alum Chris Kunitz Chosen As NHL First-Team All-Star
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Big Rapids, Mich. - Former Ferris State University men's ice hockey standout winger Chris Kunitz recently received perhaps one of the biggest individual honors ever for a Bulldog alum in the professional ranks by being chosen as a 2012-13 National Hockey League (NHL) First-Team All-Star.
Kunitz, a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, claimed postseason all-star recognition for the first time in his professional career and joined teammate Sidney Crosby among the six players from around the league on the first team. Kunitz was tabbed as the left wing on the squad with Crosby named as the top center. The other honorees included goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets, defensemen P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens) and Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild) along with right wing Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals).
Voting for the All-Star Team was conducted among representatives of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association at the end of the regular season.
Although he didn't establish any career highs due to the abbreviated season, Kunitz enjoyed perhaps his best season in '12-13, leading the team in goals (22) and power-play goals (t-9), while placing second in points (52), rating (plus-30) and game-winning goals (t-5). He became the first player not named Crosby or Malkin to lead the team in goal scoring since Ryan Malone in 2003-04.
Kunitz, who received 519 votes – 302 more than second-place Alex Ovechkin – became just the second Penguins left wing ever named to the postseason All-Star Team, joining Kevin Stevens (First Team, 1992; Second Team, '91, '93).
Kunitz, who recently agreed to a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Pittsburgh through 2016-17, finished the regular season ranked in the top-10 in the NHL in goals, points, power-play goals, game-winning goals and rating. His 1.08 point-per-game average was the highest of his career.
This past year marked the fifth time – and second-straight season – that Kunitz has topped the 50-point mark and the sixth time he's tallied 20 goals.
The 6-foot, 193-pound Kunitz became the first Penguins player since 2000 to score four goals in a single game when he accomplished the feat at Washington on Feb. 3. Later in the season he notched a career-best five points (3G-2A) against the NY Islanders on March 10.
Kunitz, who hails from Regina, Saskatchewan, added 10 points (5G-5A) in 15 playoffs games this spring. He tallied the overtime game-winning goal – capping a two-goal, three-point performance – in Game 3 against the New York Islanders in Round 1.
A key member of the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup championship squad, Kunitz was acquired by the Penguins from the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 26, 2009. He went on to register 14 points (1G-13A) in 24 playoff contests that year, helping the Penguins defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the Cup Final.
Previously, Kunitz established several career highs for the Penguins during the '11-12 season, scoring 26 goals, 35 points and 61 points to go with six power-play markers in 82 regular-season games.
Prior to joining the Penguins Kunitz played four-plus seasons with Anaheim and the Atlanta Thrashers between 2003-09. He was instrumental in helping the Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007, scoring six points (1G-5A) in 13 playoff games.
Originally signed by Anaheim as an undrafted free agent on April 1, 2003, Kunitz has appeared in 581 career NHL regular-season games with Pittsburgh, Anaheim and Atlanta, totaling 172 goals, 231 assists and 403 points. He has added 58 points (17G-41A) in 99 playoff games.
As a collegian at Ferris State, Kunitz excelled during his 2002-03 senior season by garnering American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-America First-Team honors and was among the final three 2003 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's top player. A two-time (2001-02 and 2002-03) CCHA First-Team pick, Kunitz became the first Bulldog skater to earn CCHA Player of the Year honors after leading the league in points, goals, assists, and plus/minus for the 2002-03 campaign.
Kunitz concluded his stellar career ranking tied for sixth in career points (175), second in goals (99) and 18th in assists (76) in 152 contests. He played an integral role in leading the 2002-03 Bulldogs to a school-best 31-10-1 overall record, the school's first-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship title and the program's first-ever NCAA Division I Championship Tournament appearance. Kunitz was also recognized as the male student-athlete recipient of the 2002-03 Bulldog of the Year Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding Ferris State student-athlete.
Earlier this season, Kunitz was chosen to the CCHA's All-Decade Team for his work as a collegian at Ferris State.
Below are the NHL First & Second Team All-Stars For 2012-13: