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Brandon, Manitoba -- A current member of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings as well as a former captain of the club are among the twelve candidates nominated for Western Manitoba's Sportsman of the Year for 2006.

The winner of the annual H.L. Krug Crawford Memorial Medal, as determined by the Brandon Sun's board of selectors, will be announced in theWednesday, January 3rd edition.

20-year old left-winger Mark Derlago made a remarkable return to the ice during the 2005-06 season after sustaining a broken neck in the fall of 2004 that forced the local product to miss his entire sophomore season in the WHL. A former Manitoba AAA midget league scoring champion, Derlago returned to the ice last season and led the team with 28 goals. As well, he was chosen last year's recipient of the Manitoba Hydro Turk Broda Memorial Award and the Meighen Haddad & Co. Most Valuable Player Trophy. One of only two Wheat Kings to play in all 72 games last season, Derlago is well on his way to having a career year this season. Entering the club's post-Christmas schedule that begins Wednesday night at the Keystone Centre with a game against the visiting Saskatoon Blades, he's second on the team and fifth in the WHL in scoring with 25 goals and 45 points in 37 games.

A native of Abbotsord, B.C., Ryan Craig has made Brandon his off-season home and after a stellar 5-year WHL career with the Wheat Kings, he has become a valuable contributor to the National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning. Through Tampa's first 28 games this season, he has nine goals and 18 points. During his illustrious WHL career in Brandon, Craig played in 302 games, scoring 137 goals and 268 points.

The other ten nominees include raquetball's Michael Burgess, Brandon University's Joel Small and Teagan Hunter (volleyball) and Yul Michel (basketball), local gymnast Jenna Kerbis of Brigham Young University, triathlete Doug Pickering, golfing sensation Kaitlin Troop of Illinois State University, University of Regina wide receiver Chris Bauman, Crocus Plains volleyball star Janelle Wotton and Manitoba Senior Baseball League President Barry Wowk, who was instrumental in the success of last summer's 2006 Canadian Senior Baseball Championships in Brandon.

The 2005 Krug Crawford Memorial Medal winner was former Wheat King scoring star Eric Fehr of Winkler.

By winning their first Rural Manitoba High School Football League title in seventeen years, the Southwest Sabres of Souris are one of eight nominees for Westman Team of the Year. Joining them are the Sabres' female rugby team, the Brandon Barbarions senior men's rugby team, the Crocus Plains varsity girls volleyball team, the Manitoba Senior Baseball League champion Brandon Cloverleafs, Terry McNamee's provincial mixed curling team, the Vincent Massey boys rugby team as well s the Brandon Brewers provincial pee wee baseball champions.

Derlago and the Wheat Kings bring the curtain up on the second half of the 2006-07 regular season on Wednesday night against Brad Cole and the Blades at the Keystone Centre. The Wheat Kings begin the second half sitting atop the Eastern Division with a record of 18-13-2-4 while the Blades have won three straight games since Cole returned to the lineup in mid December.

Puck drop Wednesday is 7 p.m.. The Keystone Centre box office will open at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
 
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