For much of this season, Fort Wayne goaltender Nick Boucher seemed to be the front-runner for CHL MVP honors.
But the league released the five finalists for the award Wednesday, and Boucher was not among them.
League spokesman Bob Hoffman confirmed that Boucher was among the final 10 candidates for the award, saying, "The determination for MVP candidates was extremely difficult, as there were a collection of eight to 10 players who were all deserving."
Those who will be on the ballot are forwards Bruce Graham of Allen, Shawn Limpright of Rapid City, Brandon Marino of Quad City, Matt Robinson of Wichita and Todd Robinson of Evansville.
They are all in the top 24 in CHL scoring, led by Todd Robinson's 22 goals and 83 points and bottomed by Matt Robinson's 29 goals and 50 points.
Boucher, however, leads all goalies in games played (44), victories (29) and shutouts (three), and he's third in goals-against average (2.35) and sixth in save percentage (.922).
He backstops the fifth-best defense (2.78 goals against per game), and he's played two more games than last season, helping the team ascend to the top of the Turner Conference standings. The Komets have six more points than they finished with last season, and there's still eight games to go.
Players were nominated by their teams, but the CHL's front office determined the finalists. The winners will be chosen by coaches, team staff members and some reporters.
Boucher is a finalist for Most Outstanding Goaltender, along with Charlie Effinger of Missouri, Bryan Gillis of Evansville, Mark Guggenberger of Texas and Adam Russo of Wichita.
Frankie DeAngelis is a finalist for Most Outstanding Defenseman, along with Evansville's Matt Gens, Quad City's Darren McMillan, Missouri's Dave Pszenyczny and Rapid City's Riley Weselowski, though you could argue both Fort Wayne's Brent Henley and Jamie Milam should have been on the list.