Zemlak name engraved alongside legends

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FIFE Flyers netminder Garrett Zemlak has won The Fife Free Press Mirror of Merit award following the club’s first season in the Elite League.

The Saskatoon shot-stopper picked up the coveted award at the supporters’ club awards night, held in the busy curlers bar at Fife Ice Arena on Tuesday night.

The Mirror of Merit trophy, given by The Fife Free Press in honour of the player who inspired each season, is engraved with many legendary names stretching back six decades.

Zemlak’s name will now sit alongside past stars such as Bert Smith, Les Lovell, Gordon Latto, Ron Plumb, Steve Moria, Vincent Lukac, Rick Fera, Mark Morrison, Russell Monteith, Bill Moody, Dan Goneau and current player-coach, Todd Dutiaume.

He is the fifth netminder to claim the prize following Roy Reid (1964), Ricky Grubb (1996), Stephen Murphy (2000) and Steve Briere (2003).

Despite playing behind a mostly inexperienced defence, Zemlak’s stunning form throughout the season saw him collect a huge number of man of the match awards, the most memorable coming in Nottingham in November where he made 74 saves from 76 shots in a 3-2 defeat.

In the same month, he also earned the team its first ever Elite League win with a penalty shot save against Hull Stingrays, and repeated the feat in front of the Sky Sports cameras to secure a home shoot-out win over Coventry Blaze in January.

Zemlak, aged 22, has also proved a huge hit with Fife supporters, who named him their Player of the Year on Tuesday night’s ceremony, and the popular goalie completed a hat-trick of awards after also being voted Players’ Player of the Year.

His popularity among Flyers fan has also earned him his own ‘Zemlak’s on fire’ chant, based on a Kings of Leon hit.

Local defenceman Chris Wands picked up the evening’s two other awards for Most Improved Player and Best British Player.

Meanwhile, Zemlak is bidding to win another award – the Elite League’s fans favourite – after making the final shortlist of 10. Ice hockey fans can vote for their favourite EIHL player at http://www.eliteleague.co.uk/polls-s12584

Voting closes at midnight on April 1.