December 12, 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. Inside College Hockey's Hobey Tracker looks at the top three candidates for the award, those whose stock is rising or falling, and other players worthy of consideration.

1. Nathan Davis
Junior | Forward
Last Week: One assist as Miami took three of four points from Ohio State.
The Buzz at the Break: Only Air Force's Eric Ehn has more points than Davis' 35, and rare are the players who have his versatility. And that's what gives him the inside track at the halfway point he's always a threat to score shorthanded (a stat that'll impress voters), his assist totals should remain high as long as he stays on a line with prolific goal scorer Ryan Jones, and the RedHawks are on point for a top-two finish in the CCHA.
2. Trevor Smith
New Hampshire
Soph. | Forward
Last Week: Two assists in the Wildcats' wins against UMass Lowell and St. Lawrence.
The Buzz at the Break: Smith broke out of the gate fast and though he's played at a high level the entire season, his scoring pace has dropped off over the last couple weeks with just three assists in UNH's last five games. Smith could also become a victim of the Minnesota Syndrome (see Bear Market below). Teammates such as Matt Fornataro and Mike Radja have been almost as good as Smith thus far.

3. David Brown
Notre Dame
Senior | Goalie

Last Week: Two wins, 51 saves, 6 goals against the Fighting Irish's sweep of Michigan.
The Buzz at the Break: How does Brown, who's coming off his worst outing of the season Sunday against Michigan, sneak past Léveillé into the top three? Well, he's the best player on a team that's the feel-good college hockey story of the season to date. Combine that with a schedule that – Warning! Cliche alert! – looks to be favorable on paper, and Brown could easily have 25 wins, a sub-2.00 GAA, and a save percentage in the .930 range.
Dropped out: Michel Léveillé, Maine
Do the Black Bears still have a hockey team? It seems like they haven't played since losing to Boston College on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving. Léveillé, who had a goal in Maine's win at Northeastern Saturday, appears to be fine after he was checked from behind in a loss to Vermont Nov. 25.

Eric Ehn
Air Force

The college hockey season has reached its de facto midway point there are fewer than 20 games on the docket between now and Christmas it's safe to say that Ehn, the country's leading scorer, has a good chance to be among the 10 Hobey finalists. Should he maintain his current scoring pace, he'll finish the regular season in the neighborhood of 70 points and Hobey hasn't turned its back on candidates from the mid-majors in the past.
Anyone from
Beware, Minnesota fans, and take a deep breath. Yes, we're telling you that as things currently stand it'll be difficult for one of your players to win the Hobey. But also realize that it's a compliment. Minnesota's top six point scorers are currently within two points of one another atop the scoring chart. As they say, a rising tide lifts all ships, and it's tough to distinguish one candidate over another when considering Okposo, Goligoski, Wheeler, and Hirsch ... not to mention Vannelli and Barriball. Don't take our word for it, though: Ask a long-time Michigan fan how the 1994 Hobey vote turned out when the Wolverines had David Oliver, Steve Shields, and Brian Wiseman among the 10 finalists.
Dan Rosen
Statistically, he's the best goaltender in the nation, but there's a small sample space and Brown has earned many of its wins against sub-.500 competition. That shouldn't discount what Rosen has done for the Bears. He's averaging 32.3 saves per game, and keeping a team that was picked to finish at the bottom of the ECACHL near the middle of the pack. Besides, it's not unheard for a Brown goalie to make impressive Hobey runs, right Yann Danis?