vote-rory

Two fans show their support for Vancouver Canucks' Rory Fitzpatrick, although the defenceman won't be in the starting lineup of the NHL All-Star Game. ((Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images))

Despite a strong online campaign, write-in candidate Rory Fitzpatrick of the Vancouver Canucks fell just short of joining the Western Conference starting lineup for the all-star game, the NHL announced on Tuesday.

Fitzpatrick received a record tally for write-in candidates, but finished third among defencemen in his conferencewith 550,177 fan votes.

Supported by the website VoteForRory.com,and to the chagrin of hockey purists like Don Cherry, Fitzpatrick's bid for all-star selection gathered steam in recent weeks.He was second infan voting — a head of stalwarts like Scott Niedermayer and Nicklas Lidstrom — just two weeks ago.

But in the end, Niedermayer, with 591,657 votes,and Lidstrom, with 573,069,finished 1-2.

Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby was the top vote-getter overall, with 825,783 votes.

At 19 years, five months, Crosby is the youngest player voted to start the all-star game since fan balloting began in 1986.

The youngest starter previously was the Penguins' Jaromir Jagr, elected to the Prince of Wales Conference lineupin 1992.

Crosby is joined in the Eastern Conference lineup by five other first-time starters: Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals; goaltender Ryan Miller; defenceman Brian Campbell and forward Daniel Briere all of the Buffalo Sabres; and Montreal Canadiens defenceman Sheldon Souray.

San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton led all Western Conferenceplayers in voting,and will be making his second consecutive all-star start.

Thornton's linemates will be Colorado Avalanche centre Joe Sakic, voted a starter for the fourth time, and the Sharks' Jonathan Cheechoo.

In goal will be first-time all-star starter Roberto Luongo of the Canucks.

Complete rosters for the all-star game and the NHL YoungStars Game will be announced Jan. 13, on CBC during Hockey Day In Canada.

The NHL All-Star Game will be played Jan. 24 in Dallas.