Brad Thiessen watches as Columbus Blue Jackets’ Rick Nash circles behind the net. Thiessen

Brad Thiessen watches as Columbus Blue Jackets’ Rick Nash circles behind the net. Thiessen

Thiessen tops for his decade

Aldergrove goaltender earns BCHL honour as league unveils its top players for past 50 years

Brad Thiessen has joined some pretty elite company.

The goaltender from Aldergrove was selected as the B.C. Hockey League’s player of the decade for the 2000s.

The junior A hockey league announced the winners as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. The winners were selected through online fan voting.

“It is a great honour to be selected as the player of the decade in the BCHL,” Thiessen said.

“The BCHL is a great league and does a phenomenal job of growing players and have developed some of the best players in the game today so to be voted as the top player is definitely humbling.”

Also on the list are Bob Nystrom (1960s), Chad Campbell (1970s), Brett Hull (1980s) and Paul Kariya (1990s).

The 26-year-old Thiessen — who graduated from Abbotsford’s MEI Secondary — played for Penticton, Prince George and Merritt in the BCHL before starring at Northeastern University, where he earned a Hobey Baker nomination as the top player in U.S. college hockey.

He joined the Pittsburgh Penguins organization as a free agent in 2009 and last year won the American Hockey League’s Aldege ‘Baz’ Bastino Memorial Award as the league’s most outstanding goaltender.

Thiessen also made his NHL debut this season back in February, a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. He went 3-1 in five appearances and is currently back in the AHL where he has the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.

Thiessen described this past year as up and down.

“It started off well (but) went through some tough times during the middle of the year when I wasn’t playing my best hockey,” he said.

“Getting an opportunity to play in the NHL was a dream come true and was a great experience.

“I felt like I played well in the opportunity I was given and have used that to come back to Wilkes-Barre and hopefully continue on our run in the playoffs here.”

Thiessen also thanked all of his billets, coaches, teammates, trainers and communities from his stops in the BCHL.

“Those were special memories in my life and all three places — Penticton, Prince George and Merritt — have helped me get to where I am today,” he said.

Thiessen still returns home to Aldergrove in the off-season and trains locally with TnT Hockey Performance Training.

Nystrom played in 900 NHL games and won four Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders in the early 1980s.

Hull played 1,269 NHL games and won Stanley Cups with Dallas (1999) and Detroit (2002).

Kariya played in 989 games.

Hull edged out former Langley Eagles forward Mark Recchi — who won three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh (1991), Carolina (2006) and Boston (2011) — during a career in which he played 1,652 games.

Thiessen beat out Duncan Keith, who played defence for the Penticton Panthers.

Keith has built up quite a resume since his BCHL days, earning a Norris Trophy nomination and winning both the Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal in 2010.