Hobey Baker Watch: Week Twelve
What once seemed like a clear-cut Hobey Baker race now represents one that is anything but decided. A logjam at the top of the scoring race and competitive goaltending play has led to some intrigue as the season heads into the final weekend of January and into the stretch run. Here are the names worth watching in a considerably open Hobey campaign.
For Atlantic Hockey, Brady Ferguson (Robert Morris) is still the name to watch as he finds himself five points off the national lead, and in a sixth place tie in the NCAA. The goalies to watch remain Parker Gahagen of Army (1.77 GAA, .938 save percentage) and Francis Marotte (1.81, .943) of Robert Morris as both remain among the top seven statistical goalies in the nation. The trio all have a legitimate case to contend if they can continue to perform at a high level.
Over in the Big Ten, Denis Smirnov (Penn State) has ceded the conference lead in points to Tyler Sheehy (Minnesota). With 32 points, he leads the conference and is in an 11th place tie in the nation. No goalies stand out as Hobey contenders but Hayden Lavigne (Michigan) does rank in the top 10 in save percentage at .932. The Big Ten has standout teams this season, but no standout players for the Hobey.
On the flip side in the ECAC, many of the top contenders reside. Mike Vecchione and Spencer Foo (Union) are tied for the national point lead at 41. For goaltenders, Kyle Hayton ranks in the top 10 in save percentage at .933. Hayton represents quite the long-shot but Vecchione and Foo have as much of a chance as anyone to take home the Hobey.
Now in Hockey East, both Zach Aston-Reese (Northeastern) and Tyler Kelleher (UNH) are tied with the aforementioned Foo and Vecchione at 41 points, that being the national lead. Dylan Sikura (Northeastern) sits right behind them at 38, fifth nationally, and Anders Bjork (Notre Dame) is right behind him at 35, good for a sixth place tie in the nation. Jake Oettinger of Boston University (1.70, .938) leads the conference for goaltenders, as he ranks just inside the top five in GAA and save percentage.
In the NCHC, Austin Ortega is not quite out of the race with 34 points, putting him in an eighth place tie nationally. At 31 points, Shane Gersich (North Dakota) ranks 13th in the nation and second in the conference. Ben Blacker (Western Michigan) is beginning to impress (1.67, .939) although he still has not played in as many games as other goalies. Tanner Jaillet of Denver (1.91, .931) also impresses, but still finds himself out of the national Hobey race.
And in the WCHA, the only forward over 30 points is Marc Michaelis (Minnesota State), a 14th place tie nationally, not exactly lighting college hockey on fire. The goalies are a different story however, as Angus Redmond (Michigan Tech) and Michael Bitzer (Bemidji State) lead the country in GAA at 1.50 and 1.59 respectively. Impressive numbers that definitely leave them within the chase for the Hobey, at least for now.
Zach Kaplan is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.