Hobey Baker Watch List: Week Three
With the 2016-17 season about to enter the third weekend of play, the Hobey Baker race continues to remain a fairly wide open one. While there are definitely statistical leaders beginning to emerge across each conference, it remains to be seen as to who the finalists and contenders will be for college hockey’s most valuable player. Let’s take a look at how each conference stacks up.
In Atlantic Hockey, T.J. Moore of Holy Cross remains the conference’s leading scorer with six goals and two assists, but the junior went goalless this past weekend with the Crusaders only playing one game against Providence. Hot on his tail is Brady Ferguson from Robert Morris who still has seven points, as the Colonials did not play last week. Defensively, Tommy Muratore, one of Moore’s teammates at Holy Cross, leads the conference in plus/minus at +7. While he probably won’t keep this pace up through the season, Parker Gahagen deserves some credit for shutting out Sacred Heart in a home-and-home series, stopping all 58 shots he faced. Being realistic, the only major contender in Atlantic Hockey for the award as of now is Moore, but he is a long-shot to continue a scoring pace of two goals per game.
Meanwhile, the Big Ten has a few players who have stood out so far. From Wisconsin, sophomore Seamus Malone and freshman Trent Frederic both have six points thus far through four games. Sophomore forward Tyler Sheehy from Minnesota has also impressed with five points in two games so far, and Chase Berger of Penn State has five points in three games. Sheehy has been impressive on the defensive end too, leading the conference with a +4 plus/minus rating. Tied with him at +4 are teammates Jake Bischoff, Jack Sadek and Tommy Novak. There aren’t any goalies in the Big Ten who realistically could win the Hobey, but as for goalies who have played multiple games, Matt Tomkins of Ohio State leads the conference in goals against average (GAA), allowing only one goal on 33 shots for a 0.67 GAA.
In terms of individual performances, the ECAC has been somewhat underwhelming offensively so far. Leading the way in points is Mike Marnell from St. Lawrence with six points. Behind him are nine players with five points, with three from St. Lawrence, Union and Quinnipiac respectively. On the blue line, senior Gavin Bayreuther of St. Lawrence leads the way with a +7 rating. Currently, Kyle Hayton from St. Lawrence is the leading goaltender in goals against in the conference, allowing nine on 127 shots for a 2.26 GAA. As for Hobey contenders, Bayreuther is the only name in the conversation at this point as he is tied for 2nd in ECAC for points, and is tied for the lead in the NCAA in plus/minus.
Hockey East always has their share of Hobey candidates, and this season is no different. With scoring, junior Anders Bjork of Notre Dame has an NCAA-leading 10 points (5G, 5A) through four games, already averaging 1.25 goals per game and 2.5 points per game. Behind him, freshman Mitch Fossier (Maine), senior Joe Gambardella (UMass Lowell), Dylan Sikura (Northeastern), and sophomore Dylan Malmquist (Notre Dame) all have eight points through four games. Defensively, David Cotton of BC, Rob Michel of Maine and Jesper Mattila also from BC are tied for first at +6. For goalies, freshman Tyler Wall of UMass Lowell has impressed through three games, only allowing three goals on 82 shots for a GAA of 1.09. The Hobey contenders in Hockey East as of now are probably Bjork and Fossier. If Wall keeps it up, he will be in the conversation but his GAA will be difficult to maintain through conference play.
The NCHC has produced a number of Hobey winners in the past, and this year in the conference has seen solid performances from a number of players. Brock Boeser of North Dakota has been mentioned in this article and continues to impress, tied for seventh in the NCAA in points with seven through three games. Defensively, Joel Janatuinen leads with a +6 rating, while five of his teammates are tied at +5. Cam Johnson, goalie for North Dakota, has been named in this article over the past couple weeks, and has only allowed three goals on 42 shots. For Hobey contenders, Boeser and Johnson are definitely in the conversation.
And finally in the WCHA, sophomore Dan Brickley leads the conference with seven points while five others are tied with six. Defensively, Clint Lewis is tied for the NCAA lead in plus/minus at +7 and is tied for ninth in the conference with four points. In net, junior Michael Bitzer has played incredibly thus far, only allowing two goals on 86 shots for a 0.50 GAA, among the top five in all of college hockey. Bitzer really represents the only Hobey contender statistically for the conference as of now, but his stats will be hard to keep up throughout the season.
The Hobey Baker race remains wide open, but every conference has players that could continue to elevate their game and keep their play at the level needed to win the prestigious most valuable player award for college hockey.
Zach Kaplan is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. Shoot him an email at email@example.com.