Hobey Baker Watch: Week Four

Story posted October 27, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Zach Kaplan

Just about four weeks into the college hockey season, the Hobey Baker Award race still remains fairly open. While there are scoring and other statistical leaders, injuries and underperformance have knocked a few players out of the race early. This has prompted other players to step up to the plate, and they could potentially find themselves in the Hobey race if they can continue their play. Here’s a look at the contenders for the award, by each of the six conferences.

In Atlantic Hockey, there was a change in the horse-race at the top of the scoring charts. Brady Ferguson of Robert Morris passed T.J. Moore of Holy Cross in points, as the junior forward now has 10 (five goals, five assists). Both Moore and Max French of Bentley are tied at eight for second in the conference. Defensively, there are new statistical leaders in the conference as well, with Danny Lopez, a junior at Holy Cross, and Caleb Cameron, a senior at RIT, both tied at +6. In net, Parker Gahagen of Army continues to lead the way, only allowing five goals on 113 shots so far this season, going 2-1-1 with a 1.23 goals against average (GAA). As far as award contenders go, Gahagen is one of the top goaltenders in the country right now, while Moore and Ferguson are near the top of Division One for scoring. 

Meanwhile, in the Big Ten, Tyler Sheehy of Minnesota continues to lead the way with eight points. He also ranks in the top five in plus/minus with a +4 rating. Other offensive standouts include Seamus Malone and Trent Frederic of Wisconsin, with six points each, tied with eight others. A pair of Minnesota defensemen, Jack Sadek and Steve Johnson, both NHL prospects already, lead the conference with a +7 rating. For goalies, the platoon of Hayden Lavigne and Jack LaFontaine of Michigan lead the way, combining to only allow seven goals on 139 shots. The only real Hobey contender is Sheehy, the sophomore forward who has been lighting it up on both ends of the ice.

In ECAC play, the points race continues to pace itself, with Mike Vecchione of Union leading both the conference and all of Division One with 13 points. Behind him is teammate Sebastian Vidmar with 10, and Evan Tironese of Rensselaer with nine. On defense, also from Union, teammate Spencer Yoo leads with a +8 rating on the blue line. The conference is somewhat of a wash for goaltending, with no one standing out so far. Chris Truehl of Quinnipiac leads the way with a paltry 2.35 GAA through seven total games played. As far as contenders for the Hobey from the conference, Vecchione is definitely a contender but there aren’t many standouts behind him from the ECAC.

Looking at Hockey East now, junior Anders Bjork of Notre Dame still leads the way with 11 points, but was held to only one assist this past weekend in their series with Penn State. Right behind him with 10 points are C.J. Smith of UMass Lowell and Zach Aston-Reese of Northeastern. On the blue line, tied for plus/minus are teammates David Cotton and Jesper Mattila of Boston College with +7, and six players are tied with +6. Leading the way in goaltending is Jake Oettinger of BU. While the freshman’s record isn’t great at 3-2, he has only given up seven goals on 133 shots for a 1.42 GAA. Even with Bjork getting locked down by the Nittany Lions over the weekend, he still represents the conference’s best Hobey hopeful.

The NCHC has their best all-around player in Bismarck, ND. Brock Boeser of North Dakota leads the conference and is second in the NCAA with 12 points thus far. He also leads the conference with a +8 plus/minus as well, cementing him as the conference’s best shot at the Hobey. Behind Boeser in scoring is teammate Shane Gersich with eight points, and he also boasts a +6 rating. In goaltending, Nick Deery holds the lowest GAA with a 1.54, but Cam Johnson leads the way for the conference, winning all 5 games he has started. Along with his perfect 5-0 record, he holds a GAA of 1.81, only allowing nine goals on 89 shots. Johnson and Boeser both represent the contenders for the award from the conference as of now.

And finally, in the WCHA, the contenders are few, but there have been some standout performances, just about all of them from Minnesota State players. For scoring, Dan Brickley of Minnesota State continues to lead in scoring with 10 points. On defense, Clint Lewis and Carter Foguth are tied with a plus/minus of +8. In net, Cole Huggins of Minnesota State and Michael Bitzer of Bemidji State lead the way. Huggins has a GAA of 1.27 and is tied with Cam Johnson of North Dakota with a 5-0 record, tied for the best in the NCAA. As for Hobey candidates, Huggins certainly is a standout for goaltenders in the running.

All in all, the race is still very open. Vecchione, Boeser, Bjork and Ferguson are the key contenders for forwards. On defense, Tucker Poolman, Spencer Foo, Clint Lewis and Foguth are the key contenders. And in the back end, Gahagen, Huggins and Oettinger are the leaders thus far. But at this point, nearly 3-4 weeks into the season, it can still be anyone’s race for the taking.

 

Zach Kaplan is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. Shoot him an email at zachkaplan5@gmail.com.