Goaltender Tim Thomas, who played in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) for the Lakeland (Mich.) Jets, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player of the playoffs after backstopping the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup championship over the Vancouver Canucks.
Thomas stopped all 37 shots he faced to lead the Bruins to a 4-0 victory against the Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday, giving Boston its first championship in 39 years.
"It still hasn't kicked in, if I'm completely honest," Thomas told NHL.com. "I can't believe it's over. We've had our battle meter up so high for so long, it feels like we're moving onto the next series or something."
After his seasoning in the NAHL, Thomas, from Flint, Mich., embarked on a four-year college career at the University of Vermont (then ECAC) from 1993-97. He's played the last six seasons with the Bruins.
Thomas was the winner of the 2009 Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender and played for Team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Three other NAHL graduates competed in this year's Stanley Cup Finals: Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard (1999-2000), forward Ryan Kesler (2000-02) and goaltender Cory Schneider (2003-04), all of whom played in the NAHL as members of the USA Hockey National Team Development Program.