Predicting the Hobey Baker Top Ten

This is my yearly attempt to predict the ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. In the past, my results have been mixed, from a high of seven to a low of four.

This is the first year in recent memory where one player has basically already won the award. Johnny Gaudreau (Boston College) is a stone-cold lock to take home the trophy, so more of the excitement is focused on the ten finalists and the other two spots in the Hobey Hat Trick.

Remarkably, “Johnny Hockey” has 69 points already (32 goals, 37 assists in 37 games, an average of 1.86 points/game), and his Eagles are leading the nation in scoring with 4.05 goals per game. Boston College is idle this weekend after dropping a first-round playoff series against Notre Dame, but if Jerry York’s boys make a deep NCAA tournament run, Gaudreau could top Miami forward Andy Miele’s mark of 71 points (24 goals, 47 assists) set in 2010-11.

If Gaudreau can surpass Miele’s 71, he will have collected the most points in a season since 2002-03, when Colorado College junior forward Peter Sejna had 36 goals and 46 assists (82 points) for the Tigers and senior forward Chris Kunitz scored 35 goals and added 44 assists (79 points) for Ferris State.

The other remarkable thing about this college hockey season is how many goalies are putting up outstanding numbers. The six netminders featured in this article (four on my top ten list plus two honorable mention selections) have backstopped their teams to 117 victories with 18 shutouts. Here’s the average stat line from those six combined:

A record of 20-8-4, a 2.08 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage, and 4 shutouts.

So despite the fact that scoring is up across college hockey this season (2.82 goals scored/game this year, compared to 2.74 goals/game in 2012-13), the top goaltenders are eyeing for a spot in the Hobey Hat Trick.

Here’s my best shot at the ten Hobey Baker finalists:

Skaters (in alphabetical order):

Josh Archibald, junior forward, Nebraska-Omaha
29 goals, 14 assists (43 points) in 37 games (1.16 points/game)

Archibald would have had a stronger case had the Mavericks survived their first round NCHC playoff series against Denver. UNO’s season may be over, but I still think his 29 goals (second-most in the country) speak loudly enough to get him in the top ten.

Greg Carey, senior forward, St. Lawrence
18 goals, 39 assists (57 points) in 38 games (1.50 points/game)

A returning finalist, this Hamilton, Ontario product has scored the second-most points in the country this season. Although the Saints were swept by Colgate last weekend, Carey was spectacular, figuring in on three of four SLU goals in the series (two goals, one assist). Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that he went from scoring 28 goals a year ago to collecting 39 assists in his senior season.

Austin Czarnik, junior forward, Miami
12 goals, 33 assists (45 points) in 35 games (1.29 points/game)

Czarnik is a returning finalist who currently ranks sixth in the country in points per game. Last week, I would have thought that the RedHawks record would work against him, but Miami’s sweep at NCHC champion St. Cloud State in the first round of the league playoffs (and his two points in the series) works in his favor.

Johnny Gaudreau, junior forward, Boston College
32 goals, 37 assists (69 points) in 37 games (1.86 points/game)

The junior Eagle has only been held off the point sheet twice all season; at Minnesota back in October and in his last game, a decisive game three playoff loss against Notre Dame. Since the committee began awarding “Hat Tricks” ten years ago, no player has been in the final three in consecutive seasons. Gaudreau will be the first (21-30-51 last year, and career marks of 74-91-165 in 116 games) and he’ll take home the hardware.

Shayne Gostisbehere, junior defenseman, Union
8 goals, 20 assists (28 points) in 36 games (0.78 points/game)

There are only two defensemen in the top fifty in the country in scoring, and neither one is named Shayne Gostisbehere. Junior Steve Weinstein (1-37-38) plays for Bentley (41st in the Pairwise), while freshman Gavin Bayreuther (9-27-36) plays for St. Lawrence (32nd). With that said, I’ll take Gostisbehere, a returning All-American who has his Dutchmen in position for a #1 seed in the national tournament.

Kevin Hayes, senior forward, Boston College
24 goals, 32 assists (56 points) in 37 games (1.51 points/game)

The nation’s number three scorer plays on a line with Gaudreau, so it’s the age-old question: is his linemate inflating his numbers, or is he making his linemate better? Either way, the Eagles are flying high with 150 goals and on pace to shatter their own mark of 157 goals set in 2011-12, the highest total in college hockey over the past three seasons. Hayes is in.

Goaltenders (in alphabetical order):

Sam Brittain, senior goaltender, Denver:
17-13-6, 2.06 goals-against average, .934 save percentage, 5 shutouts

Brittain has played the second-most minutes in all of college hockey, has made the most saves (1063), and has his Pioneers in the inaugural NCHC Frozen Faceoff. He played brilliantly in his team’s upset sweep at Nebraska-Omaha last weekend, stopping 64 of 65 Maverick shots to earn both victories.

Connor Hellebuyck, sophomore goaltender, Massachusetts-Lowell
15-8-2, 1.87 goals-against average, .938 save percentage, 4 shutouts

Hellebuyck has the national save percentage lead by four points over Brittain and Adam Wilcox (Minnesota), and he’s got the lowest GAA in the country, too. He’s only appeared in 25 games this season, and that might work against him, but he hasn’t lost back-to-back games since his first two starts of the year.

Joel Rumpel, junior goaltender, Wisconsin
19-5-1, 2.00 goals-against average, .931 save percentage, 2 shutouts

This is the “between the pipes” pick that I’m the most iffy about. Rumpel just gave up eight goals in a weekend split at Michigan State, and he’s fallen outside the top five in every major goaltending category. That being said, he had a stretch of nine straight games prior to that in which he gave up two or fewer goals, including a pair of 2-1 victories over Minnesota. I might regret this choice, but I’ll keep Rumpel in.

Adam Wilcox, sophomore goaltender, Minnesota
23-4-6, 1.91 goals-against average, .934 save percentage, 3 shutouts

Wilcox is the key component in Minnesota’s spectacular season. He got out-dueled by Rumpel when the two went head to head in February (Wisconsin won both games 2-1), but aside from those narrow defeats, he hasn’t lost since November 24th. Wilcox was even more impressive within the Big Ten Conference, going 13-2-3 with a 1.64 GAA, .941 SV%, and two shutouts while leading the Gophers to the league title.

Honorable Mention:

Brett Gensler, senior forward, Bentley
21 goals, 32 assists (53 points) in 37 games (1.43 points/game)

Kevin Goumas, senior forward, New Hampshire
17 goals, 33 assists (50 points) in 38 games (1.32 points/game)

Jean-Paul LaFontaine, junior forward, Minnesota State
20 goals, 1 assists (39 points) in 38 games (1.03 points/game)

Matthew Zay, junior forward, Mercyhurst
17 goals, 25 assists (42 points) in 34 games (1.24 points/game)

CJ Motte, junior goaltender, Ferris State
26-7-3, 2.19 goals-against average, .928 save percentage, 4 shutouts

Clay Witt, junior goaltender, Northeastern
17-12-3, 2.37 goals-against average, .932 save percentage, 4 shutouts

So what do you think? Who would you include? Leave out? Feel free to comment below, and thanks for reading!

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