November 14, 2006

The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is presented to a deserving recipient on the day before the last college hockey game of the season. But that doesn’t mean that college hockey fans, players and media members don’t think about it all season. In yet another new coverage item presented by Inside College Hockey for the 2006-07 season, we introduce Hobey Tracker with a look at the top three candidates, those whose stock is rising, and other players worthy of consideration.


1. Michel
Senior | Forward

Last Week: Three goals and one assist as the Black Bears beat UMass Lowell and lost to New Hampshire.
The Buzz: Léveillé started a new scoring streak with a pair of multi-point outings. Even in Maine's loss to UNH, Léveillé kept his team in the game. His goal early in the second period gave the Black Bears life after the Wildcats scored three first-period goals, and he helped set up a power-play goal later in the second that trimmed the UNH edge to 4-2.
2. Nathan Davis
Junior | Forward
Last Week: One goal in a split with host Lake Superior State.
The Buzz: Goals were at a premium in the Soo last weekend, and Davis's line was the primary reason the RedHawks salvaged a split against the Lakers. Davis scored Miami's first goal Saturday and while he and Ryan Jones kept LSSU's skaters preoccupied, linemate Jarod Palmer notched a goal and two assists.

3. David Brown
Notre Dame
Senior | Goalie

Last Week: 24 saves in a 5-2 win vs. Bowling Green; 28 saves in a shutout win vs. Bowling Green.
The Buzz: Brown's numbers are just too terrific to ignore. He's the nation's leader in both goals against average (1.20) and save percentage (.953), and shares the lead in shutouts (2). Only Maine's Ben Bishop has surpassed his seven wins. Brown has allowed two or fewer goals in all but one of his nine starts.
Dropped Out:
Cory Schneider – His numbers (2.14 GAA, .928 save pct.) are fine, but Brown's are better.

Tyler Hirsch

Gopher fans, who've become accustomed to seeing talented players depart, must be thrilled to welcome Hirsch back into the maroon-and-gold fold this season. People forget that the Bloomington, Minn., native, who sat out most of last season for personal reasons, led the Gophers in scoring during the 2004-05 campaign with 44 points in 41 games. A gifted playmaker, Hirsch is tied for third nationally with 14 assists. Linemates Kyle Okposo (a team-high nine goals) and Ryan Stoa (six goals in 11 games after netting 10 in 41 games last year) have been the primary beneficiaries of Hirsch's largesse.
Brian Elliott
Elliott has been solid for a Badger team that has struggled mightily in its first 12 games out of the gate this season. Though his numbers are good (2.04 GAA, .924 save pct., two shutouts), he's not gotten much offensive support – Wisconsin ranks third from the bottom nationally in scoring offense. And while the Badgers' goal production should improve, especially when forward Jack Skille returns from injury, the team's schedule gets tougher. Between now and Jan. 13, Bucky plays two series with Minnesota, one series at North Dakota and Denver, single games with Michigan and Michigan State in Madison, and a date with Clarkson in the Badger Hockey Showdown.
Trevor Smith
New Hampshire
Prior to its drubbing of Maine in Orono, New Hampshire hadn't generated much ink nationally. Some of that is due to the Wildcats' quirky schedule – they started the regular season a week or two later than the other non-Ivy schools, and they opened way out west in Colorado Springs. Should Smith, tied for the NCAA lead in goals per game (nine scores in eight games, 1.12 gpg), keep up his current pace, he'll definitely turn heads. Smith, who contributed 10 goals and 10 assists as a freshman, has at least one goal in all but one of UNH's games this season and, amazingly, they're all at even-strength. Smith centers a potent second line between wings Matt Fornataro and Jerry Pollastrone.