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 our picks for the top three candidates and other players worthy of discussion.
|THE BIG BOARD|
Colgate | Sr. | F
To Date: 30 GP, 32-15–47, 5 PPGs, 6 SHGs, +24 rating
The Skinny: Smith elevates into the top spot on our Big Board by virtue of his status as the nation’s premier goal-scorer. His most recent hot streak includes goals in six of Colgate’s last eight games, a total of 10 goals in that span. He has surpassed the 30-goal mark, last achieved by an ECAC Hockey player when RPI’s Brad Tapper scored 31 in the 1999-2000 season. His pace hasn’t slowed at any point this season and there’s realistic optimism that he could get to 40 for the year, provided Colgate makes an extended postseason run.
Maine | Sr. | F
To Date: 29 GP, 16-33–49, 2 PPGs, +9 rating
The Skinny: Over the last two-plus months, the Black Bears have won 14 of 18 games, putting themselves in prime position to earn an NCAA Tournament berth for the first time since 2007. Abbott, Hockey East’s leading scorer with 49 points in 29 games, has been the catalyst for Maine’s success. During the aforementioned 18-game stretch, he’s scored 11 goals and 36 points. Perhaps Abbott’s most interesting statistic is while he leads the conference with 26 power-play points, he ranks in a tie for 36th in the league with two power-play goals.
Minnesota Duluth | Sr. | F
To Date: 30 GP, 17-31–48, 7 PPGs, +18 rating
The Skinny: Prior to recording two goals and three assists in the Bulldogs’ 5-4 win against visiting North Dakota last Saturday, Connolly had been in a bit of a scoring drought, picking up just three assists in his previous five games. His Hobey profile may not be what it was back when UMD was curb-stomping every opponent, but a late-season push for the WCHA regular-season title and an NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed would restore that luster. Worth watching: since early November, they’ve only seen regular time together on the power play, but will J.T. Brown’s injury impact Connolly’s numbers?
|WHAT ABOUT THIS GUY?|
A deeper look at a Hobey hopeful and an issue (or issues) surrounding his candidacy.
Chris Kreider, Boston College: It’s been a season of ups and downs for Boston College, and also for the guy many consider to be BC’s best player. After the first few weeks of the season, Chris Kreider was poised for a huge year with eight points in his first six games and a big weekend at the IceBreaker Tournament. He maintained his scoring pace, a little over a point-per-game, through the first half, then things slowed down. Kreider had just two points, both goals, in a nine-game slump. He’s come out of that with 10 points in his last five games on four multi-point nights. That included a goal in Monday’s Beanpot final, the third straight year he’s scored in the Beanpot championship game. He might get another boost in name recognition in a couple weeks, as the New York Rangers could deal his draft rights in an attempt to bolster their Stanley Cup chances.
Brett Gensler, Bentley: He’s only a sophomore, and already one of the most prolific offensive talents in Atlantic Hockey, part of a Bentley team that has greatly improved from the 2010-11 season. Gensler was a 24-point producer as a freshman and has already eclipsed that mark with 34 points through 30 games this season on 13 goals and 21 assists. Remarkably, only one of his goals and six of his assists have come on the power play. That means he does most of his damage at even strength, and his +8 rating reflects that — especially on a team with a negative-three goal differential. The Falcons finished 10-18-6 last year and ended the regular season in 10th place in Atlantic Hockey. They’re 11-12-7 this year, and just two points behind a third-place tie in the league.