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Wild goalie Harding wins Masterton trophy

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ST. PAUL — The National Hockey League on Friday named Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding as this year’s recipient for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

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Voted by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA), the trophy is presented annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

“I’m honored to be named this year’s recipient of the Masterton Trophy and I thank the PHWA for selecting me,” said Harding in a news release. “It’s a compliment to be a finalist alongside Sidney Crosby and Adam McQuaid and I’d like to recognize their inspiring seasons. I’m very fortunate to have the support of so many great people who have helped me through the ups and downs of multiple sclerosis, starting with my friends, family and doctors. I thank my teammates and the entire Wild organization for believing in me and for their ongoing support. I also want to thank those across the NHL, NHLPA and the MS community who reached out with their encouragement during a challenging year. I’m incredibly grateful for this honor.”

Harding becomes the first player in Wild history to win a voted-on NHL award. Jacques Lemaire earned the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach after leading the Wild in 2003. Harding was also the first Wild player to ever be selected as a finalist for the Masterton Trophy. Harding, Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) and McQuaid (Boston Bruins) were named finalists for this year’s award on May 14.

Harding, 28, went 1-1-0 with a 3.24 goals-against average, an .863 save percentage and one shutout in five regular season games with Minnesota this year and 1-4 with a 2.94 GAA and a .911 save percentage in five playoff starts for the Wild. He stopped all 24 shots faced in his first start this season in a 1-0 victory against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 20.

Harding was placed on injured reserve Feb. 12 and missed 33 games with the Wild as he battled multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed last fall. He was assigned to the Houston Aeros (AHL) on a conditioning assignment April 16 and went 1-1-0, stopping 56-of-61 shots for a 3.00 GAA and .918 save percentage in two starts and helped Houston clinch a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs before being recalled by Minnesota on April 22.

For more information on Harding’s Hope, a Multiple Sclerosis Charity launched by Josh Harding, please visit www.hardingshope.org and follow on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HardingsHope and Facebook at http://facebook.com/Hardings.Hope.

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