Hobey Baker Watch List: Week Two
With the first weekend of play completed for most teams around the NCAA, the Hobey Baker watch begins around college hockey. While many teams played easy opening slates this past weekend, some outstanding performances caught attention across the country. Most notably, that of Holy Cross forward TJ Moore who put together not one, but two hat tricks against Niagara. The junior currently leads all Div I in scoring with eight points. Hot on his trail though, are juniors Brady Ferguson from Robert Morris, and Anders Bjork of Notre Dame, neither of whom were mentioned in last week’s preseason article.
The pair of junior forwards both put together 4-3-7 stat lines this past weekend, with Ferguson taking on RIT and Bjork taking on Arizona State, both in non-conference series. Elsewhere, considered a major Hobey Baker contender, Dylan Gambrell from Denver received some unfortunate news with the program announcing that the forward will miss four to six weeks with an “upper-body injury”. Definitely a setback for the sophomore, whose draft rights are already owned by the San Jose Sharks. Also, fellow sophomore Brock Boeser put together six points this past weekend against Canisius. Almost as notable is his plus/minus rating of +5, tied for the best in Div I.
Speaking of plus/minus, there were a couple defensemen who stood out in the key defensive category from opening weekend. Holy Cross junior Tommy Muratore and Maine’s Rob Michel both came away with +5 ratings from their series with Niagara and Rensselaer respectively. Other blueliners who stood out include Bobby Nardella (+4) from Notre Dame, Jake Bischoff (+4) from Minnesota, and Tucker Poolman (+4), a junior from North Dakota.
In terms of goaltenders, a few put on clinics in their first two games. Mentioned a week ago, Cam Johnson of North Dakota could figure to be the best shot that a goaltender has at winning the Hobey Baker award this season. The junior went 2-0 this past weekend, only allowing one goal on 27 shots he faced for a goals against average (GAA) of .964. Incredibly, there were a couple goaltenders who fared even better. Rob Nichols from UConn put together back-to-back shutouts, stopping all 44 shots he faced. Granted, it was against Alabama-Huntsville, but it will be interesting to see if the senior can keep a shutout streak going next weekend against Colgate on Friday and RIT on Saturday. Sandwiched between Johnson and Nichols in terms of goaltenders who have played multiple games thus far is senior Cole Huggins from Minnesota State. Taking on Michigan Tech last weekend, he allowed one goal on 45 shots he faced for the upstart WCHA squad.
So where does this past weekend leave the Hobey Baker race heading into the next week of college hockey? About as wide open as it started with. No clear-cut player is the best through two games of play so far and it wouldn’t be surprising to not see a standout for at least another few weeks. It can be tough to judge an award race like this early on, considering there are no Gaudreaus or Eichels that stand out this season. Freshmen Chase Pearson from Maine and Tyson Jost of North Dakota stood out statistically, but it is hard to picture either putting up video-game statistics against their respective conference schedules or in general when the opponents begin to climb in difficulty. If there’s one thing for sure, the Hobey race is anyone’s for the taking, but will continue to get interesting as the schedules for most contenders increase in difficulty as the month continues.
Zach Kaplan is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.