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Wilderness players earn Rookie of the Year, Best Defensive Forward awards

The Superior International Junior Hockey League announced Friday that Jake Larson of the Minnesota Wilderness has been named the SIJHL Rookie of the Year for the 2012-13 campaign.

Larson earned the accolades over fellow Rookie of the Year finalists Mathias Gardiman of the Thunder Bay North Stars and Nick Le Sage of the Minnesota Iron Rangers.

The St. Michael's, Minn., native, who turned 19 last month, led all SIJHL skaters in goals this season with 44 and also finished second overall in league offensive production with 72 points.

Larson ended the regular season riding an impressive 19-game point streak, which included 17 tallies.

The Wilderness forward also only accumulated 10 minutes in penalties in season play, which was the lowest total of any player among the top 15 point producers in the league.

Fellow Wilderness player Jeremy Johnson has been named the recipient of the SIJHL's Best Defensive Forward Award for the 2012-13 season.

Johnson edged out Paul Thompson of the Dryden Ice Dogs and Merritt Rysavy of the Fort Frances Lakers for the honor.

The 20-year-old native of West Fargo, N.D. was a strong defensive force up front for the Wilderness helping them lead the SIJHL in penalty kill proficiency at 91.5 percent while also only allowing a league-low 85 goals-against average.

Johnson also had a big year offensively for the Wilderness finishing sixth overall in league scoring with 58 points on 30 goals and 28 assists, which were all career highs.