On Wednesday, the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation announced the three Hobey Hat Trick finalists for the 2013 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, honoring college hockey's top player. Boston College sophomore forward Johnny Gaudreau joins Quinnipiac senior goalie Eric Hartzell and St. Cloud State's Drew LeBlanc in this year's Hat Trick. Boom.
Gaudreau, Hartzell and LeBlanc were selected from the initial list of Top Ten candidates by the 23-member Hobey Selection Committee. LeBlanc wound up the winner of the fan vote, which counts for a very small percentage of the final vote.
Here's Gaudreau's bio, complete with proper pronunciation, of course:
Back to back 21 goal seasons is a fantastic way to start your college career, and so is posting 95 total points. The smallish scoring dynamo, Johnny Gaudreau (pronounced GOO-dreau), proved he can make plays as well as score goals by leading Hockey East in both points and assists. He completed his season tied for fourth in the nation in scoring while tied for eighth in both goals and assists. Gaudreau recorded 21 goals and 30 assists for 51 points in 35 games. He also contributed four power play goals and he is tied for second in the nation with his six game winning goals. His scoring exploits saw him average 1.46 points per game, topping everyone in the nation. Gaudreau was duly honored, heralded as a First Team all-star in Hockey East and was named their Player of the Year. A Communications major, Gaudreau joins in volunteering with a variety of team functions as well as visiting Children's Hospital, elementary schools and assisting race-day for a 5K fundraiser. He was a draft choice of Calgary (4th round) and missed two games this past season to play for the U.S. World Junior Team, earning a gold medal while leading the IIHF tournament with seven goals.
A few thoughts:
-- Neither North Dakota's Danny Kristo nor Corban Knight making the Hat Trick is pretty surprising to me. I thought at least one of the two would emerge from the Top 10. Looks like not only did the two steal votes from one another, they completely knocked each other out of the race.
-- St. Cloud's senior captain Drew LeBlanc, the WCHA Player of the Year, was a big part of SCSU's success this season, despite not having hit the scoring sheet in each of the Huskies last three games. His scoring line -- 13-37-50 -- isn't eye-popping by any means, but he's a very good player on a team that advanced out of the Midwest Regional last weekend.
-- Hartzell is the Q's senior goaltender. His 29 wins are tops in the nation and he ranks third in GAA with a 1.55 average. Only two goaltenders have ever won the Hobey Baker -- Minnesota's Robb Stauber and Michigan State's Ryan Miller -- and those two had truly exceptional years. I would be pretty shocked if Hartzell takes this, but he did lead the Bobcats to the Frozen Four in last weekend's final game, which was the last impression the selection committee will have of his performance this year.
Homer pick aside, I'd give the edge to Gaudreau here. His individual scoring line is a bit better than LeBlanc's -- 21-30-51 -- and his points per game average (1.46) is tops in the nation. He potted the Eagles lone goal in the 5-1 loss to Union -- admittedly in garbage time -- but that's more than LeBlanc can claim. I also wouldn't be surprised if Gaudreau's World Juniors performance puts him over the top here. Right or wrong.
Still, the fact that there are two Eastern candidates to one from the west could play into LeBlanc's favor, particularly with Hartzell leading Quinnipiac out of the same regional that Boston College was in. Then again, the selection committee's final impression of St. Cloud's conference -- a 3-5 overall record, including first round flameouts by Minnesota, Minnesota State, Wisconsin and Denver -- isn't particularly favorable either. Should be interesting.
This year's Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced next Friday, April 12 from Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh during the NCAA Frozen Four. The 33rd annual announcement will be aired live on the NHL Network at 6 PM.
Go Johnny Go!