Thursday, April 12, 2012

4th Annual College Hockey HighHorse Awards

Jack Connolly is MVP for Second Straight Season

The college hockey season is well over.  This post should have been done almost a month ago, but sometimes life gets in the way.  That being said, we would not forget to honor those UMD Bulldogs who stood out this season.  And we will honor them with our 4th running of the College Hockey HighHorse Awards.

A quick look back at the season includes UMD taking 2nd in the WCHA en route to their third trip to the NCAA Tournament in four years.  And in those four years one of the constants in a Bulldog jersey was Jack Connolly who was the fifth UMD player to win the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, college hockey's highest individual honor.  That leaves UMD again alone at the top as the school with the most winners of the Hobey.

Unlike last year, the Bulldogs did not get out of the Regional round being beaten 4-0 in the Northeast Regional Championship by eventual National Champion Boston College.

The awards as decided by the staff:

Huffer Christiansen Award (MVP): Jack Connolly.  The 2011-2012 season end for UMD with the 5th Hobey Baker award winner in school history. It is pretty hard to look past a Hobey Baker award winner when picking the team MVP. Jack Connolly is again the HCA winner for the second straight season. This past year's team produced three players that had over 40 points, two players with more than 50 points and two players that were All-Americans one might think that it would be hard to pick out a MVP, but a Hobey does trump all. 

Runners-up: Travis Oleksuk and JT Brown who had 53 and 47 points respectively.

Rookie of the Year: Caleb Herbert. This past season had good play by several Bulldog freshmen, but the best was Caleb Herbert. Chris had 2 goals, 11 assists for 13 points, pretty good for a freshman defenseman. As a forward Caleb Herbert had a terrific year 14 goals 19 assists for 33 points in 41 games. He also showed his strength in keeping the puck and getting to the net and the ability to checks. His development should continue also assuming he will be able to take on a bigger leadership role with the team. Caleb showed that he could be star in the college hockey in the coming years and is this years Rookie of the Year. 

Runner-up: Chris Casto who had a strong freshmen year on the blueline for the Bulldogs and looks like he should have a great college career.  Casto played in all 41 games this past season.

Most Improved Player: Travis Oleksuk. Is it possible to have the same player win it two years in a row? Travis Olesuk finished the season with 21 goals 32 assists for 53 points and he had six game winning goals. He was also and absolute monster on face off, arguably the best I have ever seen in a UMD jersey.  If Travis had another season of eligibility, he very well could be a Hobey candidate with the way he has played progressed.

Runner-up: Scott Kishel went from playing seven games as a junior to 35 games as a senior while scoring three goals and 15 assists for 18 points. Scott stepped up early in the season and played very well.  He did see his ice time drop at the end end of the season; however he was still a very important player to the team overall.

7th Defensemen: Scott Kishel. Given to the defenseman who steps up, becomes a regular player for the team and makes an impact.  Scott Kishel as stated above provided offense when we honestly thought we would not see much from him this past season.  Kishel is the type of defenseman we had when we instituted the 7th Defensemen Award.

Runner-up: Tim Smith who will be relied upon next season.

#29 Award: JT Brown. This past season leading goal scorer was J.T. Brown with 24 goals. Brown also added another 23 assists for a total of 47 points. He had two hat tricks on the season, one of which was a 4 goal game against UAA. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs J.T. has signed and played with the Tampa Bay Lightning, so his 2nd team All-WCHA and 2nd Team All-American honors will definitely be missed next season.

Runner-up: Travis Oleksuk with 21 goals.

There they are, the 2011-2012 College Hockey HighHorse Award winners.  As we move towards the normal down time for college hockey, we will have articles dealing with expected announcements of more details of the NCHC.  Otherwise, we look forward to the fall when Bulldog Hockey commences a new season.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Frozen Four: Quick Preview and Pick

BC, Minneosta - Twin Cities, Ferris State and Union Take it to the Wire

Tonight starts the last chapter to the college hockey season, the Frozen Four. Debate still lingers as to why it is being held in Tampa and what the benefit is to college hockey. But that is not for this article.

Tonight’s games have been maligned and heralded both for being a game of new comers to the Frozen Four (Union vs. Ferris State) and the old timers (BC vs. Minnesota – Twin Cities). The bottom line for me is Boston College is a force to behold. If the Eagles play the same type and level of hockey they did in the regional round, they are hands down your national champion.

One doesn’t have to far into history to find a dominant team on a winning streak that enters the Frozen Four as the favorite and doesn’t perform to expectation.

Take North Dakota last season who entered the Frozen four on a 15 game unbeaten streak, 14-0-1, but lost in the semis to Shawn Hunwick and the Michigan Wolverines. It has been overstated everywhere that this is a one game playoff and anything can happen.

All that being said, I fully expect BC to roll through the tournament and be the national champion. If they don’t, I only see the Gophers being able to beat the Eagles. And if the Gophers do beat BC, I see them losing to Ferris State in the Championship. A game against BC will take too much out of the Gophers to have them finish the deal.

That is my take. All we can do now is sit back and watch it all play out.