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College Hockey National Awards

More than any year I can remember, college hockey faces some tough choices when it comes to not only handing out the Hobey but the Penrose and All-American teams as well. Here is my attempt to take a look at who I think should win (not who I think will win):

Player of the Year – Corban Knight, Sr. F, North Dakota
Some bad news for Knight, a Hobey finalist: this is the 5th (I think) year I’ve done this awards post, and I haven’t correctly picked a Hobey winner yet. 
My thinking for Knight is this: there is no runaway points or goals leader this year: Johnny Gaudreau scores 1.47 ppg to lead the country and ranked 6th in goals per game. The nation’s leader in goals per game, St. Lawrence Junior Greg Carey, scored 14 of them with a man advantage. 
Knight meanwhile had 12 goals at even strength, just four fewer than Gaudreau and two fewer than Carey, and 80% of his goals (and Gaudreau’s) came at even strength compared to just 50% for Carey and with the national scoring leaders fairly bunched up (and the fact that goals are usually a bit easier to come by in ECAC Hockey and Hockey East, though I think that’s less true this year), we need to look a bit deeper.
Knight has .85 assists per game, and leads the nation in primary assists with 24. Knight is one of UND’s best penalty killers, and as a team UND allows fewer shots than Boston College or St. Lawrence (this shouldn’t factor in very much obviously, because we can’t give one player credit for an entire team preventing shots, but I don’t exactly have Corsi with which to work). 
Knight plays in both zones either as well or better than the other finalists, and to top off his case he has won 57.7% of his faceoffs this year and has won 591 of them this year, 98 more than the next highest total. Too often people get enamored with who has the most goals or the most points, but if the Hobey Baker Award is supposed to go to the best player in the nation, we should give it to the player who has been the best this year.
Coach of the year
There were a ton of candidates for coach of the year this year, but I am going with Quinnipiac head coach Rand Pecknold. I do think ECAC Hockey was a bit down this year, but the Bobcats dominated it, winning the league title by 10 points over RPI and reeling off a 21 game unbeaten streak this year. Quinnipiac finished tied for 4th in the league last year and won just 9 conference games, and all Pecknold did this year was help turn them into the top overall seed in the NCAA tournament. 
Freshman of the year
Again there were a lot of candidates here but I am going with Providence Freshman Jon Gillies. The Calgary draftee tied for second nationally in shutouts and finished with a .931 save percentage. Providence allowed 31.16 shots per game this year, 32nd nationally, and no disrespect to the players around him but without Gillies in net the Friars would have finished 7th instead of tying for 3rd. 
All Freshman team
F – Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State
F – Kevin Roy, Northeastern
F – Riley Barber, Miami
D – Jacob Trouba, Michigan
D – Michael Matheson, Boston College
G – Jon Gillies, Providence
All Americans
1st team
F – Corban Knight, North Dakota
F – Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College
F – Greg Carey, St. Lawrence
D – Nick Bailen, RPI
D – Jacob Trouba, Michigan
G – Jon Gillies, Providence
2nd team
F – Erik Haula, Minnesota
F – Danny Kristo, North Dakota
F – Steven Whitney, Boston College
D – Nick Jensen, St. Cloud State
D – Dan DeKeyser, Western Michigan
G – Carsen Chubak, Niagara
3rd team
F – Ryan Walters, Nebraska Omaha
F – Kevin Roy, Northeastern
F – Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence
D – Nate Schmidt, Minnesota
D – Joey LaLeggia, Denver
G – Brady Hjelle, Ohio State
(note: Connor Hellebuyck probably would have been my first teamer, but he played only about half the season for Lowell. We’re dealing with small samples as it is, but 21 games isn’t a big enough sample for me to put a guy as a first teamer)


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