If you’ve been following the INCH Hobey Tracker all season long, you’ve been keenly aware that our tendency has been to point toward the nation’s leading goal-scorer, Austin Smith of Colgate, as our favorite for the award. Smith didn’t win the Hobey Baker Memorial Award at the end of the 2011-12 season, that went to Minnesota Duluth’s Jack Connolly, but it didn’t change our thinking. Austin Smith is the 2011-12 INCH National Player of the Year.
The numbers that Smith posted are remarkable. He scored a nation’s best 36 goals on the year and totaled 57 points in 39 games. His 1.461 points per game ranked third nationally, trailing only the other He had six short-handed goals, and seven power-play goals. The rest of his work was done at even-strength, meaning that 29 of his 36 goals came while the Raiders had equal or fewer players on the ice as the opponent. (Half of Connolly’s points came on the power play.) Smith was also remarkably consistent throughout the year. His longest streak without scoring a goal was two games.
“I think his statistics speak volumes about what he did, obviously the goals he put up. He had maybe three or four empty-net goals, a bunch of short-handed goals. These were not secondary assists, and we played some good teams this year. I’ve been at this a long time, and we had somebody who I thought could have arguably won the Hobey Baker in Andy McDonald, back in 2000, and I think Austin Smith has had the kind of year, and maybe in some ways even a little better than Andy McDonald had his senior year in 2000. I think that speaks volumes,” Colgate coach Don Vaughan said.
Smith’s standout senior season also impacted his team’s success. Colgate was just 11-28-3 in the 2010-11 season and finished 12th in ECAC Hockey before a deep run in the conference playoffs. The Raiders improved to 19-17-3 this season and earned a first-round playoff bye before returning to Atlantic City for the ECACH Championship weekend.
His Runner-Up: Jack Connolly, Minnesota Duluth
• INCH’s year-end awards are decided upon with input from the editorial staff of InsideCollegeHockey.com and in consultation with coaches and other college hockey followers from across the country.