November 28, 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. Nathan Davis
Junior | Forward
Last Week: Three points and one goal that was disallowed in a win at St. Lawrence and a loss at Clarkson.
The Buzz: It's not a matter of Davis being a solid front-runner at this point; it's just that his credentials over the longest period of time give him the edge over a very close group of pursuers. He owns a five-game point streak, with 4-5—9 over that stretch.
2. Trevor Smith
New Hampshire
Soph. | Forward
Last Week: One goal and two assists in the Wildcats' wins against Boston College, Northeastern, and Merrimack.
The Buzz: Smith only has four points in UNH's last four games. But he certainly started strong, scoring goals in each of the 'Cats' first six games and posting three or more points four times in his first nine contests. His emergence, along with that of linemates Jerry Pollastrone and Matt Fornataro gives coach Dick Umile another no. 1 line behind Jacob Micflikier, Mike Radja and Brett Hemingway.

3. Michel
Senior | Forward

Last Week: Scoreless in a Saturday loss at Vermont.
The Buzz: Prior to his zero-point effort in Burlington last weekend, Léveillé who had been in the top spot on the Big Board since Halloween had five goals and two assists in three games. So why the sudden drop? Three straight Black Bear losses don't help. Despite his efforts, the losing streak gives the appearance that Léveillé has stalled out, too.
Dropped out:
David Brown –
As was the case a couple weeks ago when the Notre Dame goalie bumped BC's Cory Schneider from the top three, Brown doesn't slip because he's played poorly. It's because Smith has been a red-hot player for a red-hot team.

T.J. Hensick

Check out a rundown of his game-by-game statistics, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who can match his high level of consistency. Need proof? Hensick enters the week with a four-game point streak, but it's not just a run-of-the-mill stretch he's scored two points in each of those contests, a run that's included games against U-M's most bitter rival (Michigan State), the defending NCAA champions (Wisconsin), and the nation's top-ranked team (Minnesota). The biggest hindrance to his Hobey candidacy may sit in his own locker room. The Wolverines are so loaded with top-flight players, will Hensick eventually have to share the spotlight or step out of it altogether?
Jonathan Matsumoto
Bowling Green
Matsumoto started the season well, with eight points in his first five games, and showed he was worthy of his election to the Preseason All-CCHA Second Team. Things have gone south for Matsumoto and the rest of the Falcons since then. After starting the year 2-0-1, Bowling Green is 1-10-0 in their last 11 games. Matsumoto has just one point in his last five games and has been kept off the scoresheet in the last three.
Dean Strong
One reason he's hidden is because of performances by teammates Torrey Mitchell and Joe Fallon, but Strong seems to always come through in the clutch. Strong's overtime goal on Tuesday night at Harvard was his fourth game-winning goal of the season, which ties him for the national lead with Jerry Pollastrone of UNH. Strong is second on the Catamounts in scoring with 17 points in 13 games.