Hobey Baker Watch
As two weeks have passed since the 2019 Hobey Baker award nominees were announced, several players have begun separating themselves from the pack to claim to illustrious award. Though there is still plenty of time left in the season to make a lasting impression on voters, players are being placed under a microscope more than ever before. It is pivotal for players to build consistent performances week-in and week-out if they want to walk away with college hockey’s highest honor.
The Big Ten has flooded the nominees list. None are more qualified than Taro Hirose of Michigan State. The junior forward leads all of college hockey in scoring with 43 points and assists with 30. Hirose’s value has been pivotal to the Spartans, as he’s contributed to just under 54 percent of the team’s goals on the season. It is certainly tough to make a better case than that of Hirose, but a few other candidates will have their say before it is all said and done.
A duo of Penn State Nittany Lions also burst back on to the national scene over the weekend. Throughout the first half of the season, sophomore forwards Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges paved the way for a Penn State offense, which was easily the most productive unit in the nation. However, since the calendar turned to 2019, both Barratt and Limoges have cooled off tremendously. In fact, they managed to combine for just four points in a seven-game span.
However, Barratt and Limoges showed flashes of their fantastic first half form this past Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. Barratt had a goal and two assists, while Limoges tallied a pair of goals in a convincing 5-2 win over Michigan. Many are wondering if Barratt and Limoges returning to form on the big stage is a sign of things to come. It will be interesting to see if either or both players can get back into the Hobey Baker race after Penn State returns to action next week for a huge series against Minnesota.
Outside of the Big Ten, plenty of other talent across the nation is pleading its case. To begin, there is a pair of stars shining bright in the Desert. Arizona State defenseman Johnny Walker has put up an incredible offensive display this season despite his position on the ice. Walker has managed seven assists to compliment an NCAA-leading 21 goals on the season.
Walker’s impressive ability to push forward on the ice and get involved in the attack so often is partially due to the fantastic goalkeeping taking place behind him. Junior Joey Daccord leads all NCAA goalies with seven shutouts this season. Add that to his .930 save percentage, good for sixth-best in the country, and you can see why Daccord has found himself nominated for the Hobey Baker award as well.
A possible dark horse candidate is Mercyhurst junior defenseman Joseph Duszak. Duszak ranks as college hockey’s second most prolific scorer with 37 points, 23 coming from assists. Duszak’s productivity goes under the radar for a Mercyhurst team well outside of NCAA tournament contention apart from an automatic bid. However, if his astounding productivity continues, he should be considered with the likes of those previously mentioned come the end of the season.
One thing is for sure, this race is far from over. Each and every nominee still has a long way ahead of them, and a chance to prove why they should be the winner of college hockey’s most prestigious individual honor: the Hobey Baker award.
Andre Magaro is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Junior / Broadcast Journalism