Hobey Baker Watch: Post Holiday Break
With the holiday break over, the race for the most prestigious individual award in college hockey is heating up. Most teams have resumed regular season play in hopes to make a push for the NCAA tournament. The Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the best player in college hockey, has a few good candidates that have begun to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Here are three players who have made a case for why they should win the award.
Taro Hirose - Michigan State
Taro Hirose has made his second appearance on our list as he continues to produce at a ridiculous rate. Hirose has separated himself a bit from the pack. Similarly to how the NHL awards the MVP of the league, the Hobey Baker Award is designed to be given to the most deserving and valuable player. It's hard to argue anyone more valuable to their specific team than Hirose. Not only is he in sole possession of first place in the NCAA with 31 points in 20 games, but Michigan State has struggled mightily to start the year. Hirose in other words is “dragging the team,” making them competitive each and every night. With only 54 total goals scored for Michigan State, this means Hirose has contributed on over 57 percent of his team's offense. Other players on our list might have similar point production, but they are contributing at around 30 percent of their teams production; nowhere near the value to their team as Taro Hirose is to Michigan State.
Andrew Shortridge - Quinnipiac
Quinnipiac is having a phenomenal season and it has a large part to do with goaltender Andrew Shortridge. The junior goalie, originally from Alaska, is the closest thing to a brick wall in the NCAA. He has split time in net. However, in the 10 games he has appeared in, he has four shutouts, and a record of 8-1-1. His stat line is off the charts: a .97 goal against average and and a .961 save percentage. Because of play like his, Quinnipiac can proudly say they have the least goals against average in the entire NCAA. Quinnipiac is currently ranked sixth in the nation with only five losses in their 20 games.
Evan Barratt - Penn State
Evan Barratt was given the opportunity to play in the IIHF World Junior Championships. This prestigious event had him playing the best of the best in a two-week, highly competitive hockey tournament. In seven games played for Team USA, he was only able to score one point. Team USA made a run at the gold, but fell short and took home the silver. Because of that, Barratt was forced to miss a series against Minnesota and a game against Princeton. Now, he looks to return this weekend vs Michigan State and resume his dominance in the NCAA. Before leaving for the tournament, he had 29 points in 17 games good enough for 1.71 points per game. The question remains: Can he return to the type of production that made him one of the best in the NCAA? This weekend against fellow candidate Taro Hirose will answer that question.
Their is still a lot of hockey yet to be played, but these three candidates appear to be on the track for at least a nomination.
Kyle Cannillo is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.