Hobey Baker Watch: Feb. 2

Story posted February 3, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Nolan Wick

It’s the heart of the college hockey season, and most teams are in the middle of conference play. Several players have established themselves as serious candidates for the Hobey Baker Award, and here are three of the best candidates so far.

Yaniv Perets, Goaltender, Quinnipiac

Yaniv Perets has established himself as the best goaltender in college hockey this season. Perets, a freshman from Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec, leads all of college hockey in both goals against average and save percentage.

Perets has maintained a .785 goals against average, which is lightyears ahead of Minnesota State’s Dryden McKay in second place.

The Quinnipiac netminder also has a .953 save percentage, which narrowly keeps him ahead of Northeastern’s Devon Levi, making him first in all of college hockey.

Perets’ standout season has guided the Bobcats to be ranked second, with a 21-2-3 record and nine of those wins being shutouts. Given that he has helped take his team so far, it would not be a surprise if Perets took home the Hobey Baker Award.

Nathan Smith, Center, Minnesota State

Nathan Smith does it all. The Minnesota State man leads college hockey in total points this season and is tied for most points per game with Denver’s Bobby Brink, as both players are averaging 1.46 per game.

Smith has 41 points this season, which puts him a fair distance ahead of his competition. It’s hard to be surprised that Smith has been this good so far. He’s steadily been improving as a player, as last season he was second on the team in both scoring and assists. Smith has been arguably the most reliable piece for the current No. 1 team in college hockey, and his team being ranked so high would definitely help his case to win the award.

The Winnipeg Jets took Smith in the third round of the 2018 NHL Draft, though he is unsigned. Max Giese, a Winnipeg Jets scout, spoke highly of Smith. “He’s got a real unique skill level, and ability to handle pucks and make plays through guy’s feet, stuff you don’t see very often,” Giese said.

Matty Beniers, Forward, Michigan

It would be difficult to compile a list of the most likely candidates for the Hobey Baker Award without mentioning Matty Beniers.

Beniers, who was selected by the Seattle Kraken with the second overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, has been one of the best players in college hockey this season.

Beniers is second in most points this season with 36. He also has 20 assists which is seven less than Bobby Brink, who currently is in first place, but being on a strong Michigan team with the likes of Owen Power and Kent Johnson, it certainly gives Beniers a boost for the award.

Beniers has scored 16 goals so far, and he could easily be the leading goal-scorer come the end of the season. The future is very bright for Beniers, and it would not be surprising if he won the Hobey Baker Award.

Nolan Wick is a first-year majoring in journalism. To contact him, email nhw5046@psu.edu.