Hobey Baker Watch: Feb. 16
With more than 80 nominees, the Hobey Baker Memorial Award is collegiate hockey’s greatest individual prize.
Here are some players that have separated themselves from the pack with seven weeks until the big announcement.
Nathan Smith, Forward, Minnesota State
The Mavericks are the team to beat this year and Nathan Smith is a big reason why.
The junior forward has been one of his team’s best goal scorers, slotting in 15 goals with a shot percentage of 0.203%. Three of those scores were game winners, helping Minnesota State to hold the NCAA’s best record at 27-5.
Smith may give his team the most value as a creator, however. His 26 assists are best on the team and have helped pave the way for five other players to exceed the 10-goal mark this season.
If Minnesota State is able to stay hot and make a tournament run, Nathan Smith is sure to be at the center of the success.
Matty Beniers, Forward, Michigan
On a team of superstars, Matty Beniers has found a way to stand out for the Wolverines.
Beniers has a future in the NHL, being drafted by the Seattle Kraken second overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. Despite this, he opted to return to Ann Arbor for another year and has certainly not regretted it.
The sophomore leads his team in total points, putting up 16 goals and 20 assists on the year. His .205 shot percentage and eight powerplay goals are also best on the squad.
Michigan has been a pipeline to the NHL recently, with Beniers, forward Owen Power and forward Kent Johnson all being selected in the first round of the NHL Draft. The trio are all nominees for the Hobey Baker Award as well.
As the maize and blue chase a championship, it could be any one of their stars collecting some additional hardware.
Hank Crone, Forward, Northern Michigan
It hasn’t been a banner year for the Wildcats, but Hank Crone has had a very productive year in Marquette.
The junior forward leads the team with 34 points, including a team best 25 assists and nine goals. Crone did this damage in just 24 appearances, whereas some of his starting teammates have played 29 matches.
The Wildcats have some tough series ahead, including against Michigan Tech, Bemidji State and Bowling Green — three teams ahead of them in the CCHA standings.
Although not contending for a conference title, Crone and Northern Michigan could certainly make some noise playing spoiler for some of the squads ahead of them in the table.
Sam Woloson is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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