Let's Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation on Wednesday announced the five finalists for the inaugural Mike Richter Award to honor the outstanding goaltender in NCAA men's hockey. The finalists are senior Sam Brittain (Denver), sophomores Connor Hellebuyck (UMass Lowell) and Adam Wilcox (Minnesota), and juniors Joel Rumpel (Wisconsin) and Clay Witt (Northeastern).
Candidates were determined by nominations from all 59 NCAA Division I men's hockey coaches. The finalists and winner are selected by a committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media. Nominees are based on criteria including skill on the ice, academic standing, sportsmanship and community service. The finalists combined for a 2.09 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and a grade-point average of 3.23.
The award will be presented at the 2014 NCAA Men's Frozen Four in Philadelphia.
Brittain is 17-13-6 and has played in all but three games for the Pioneers. He's second in the nation in save percentage (.934), fourth in shutouts (five) and 10th in goals-against average (2.06). He leads the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in each category. A fourth-round pick (No. 92) of the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL Draft, Brittain is a psychology major and owns a GPA of 3.44
Hellebuyck leads the nation in goals-against average (1.87) and save percentage (.938) for the seventh-ranked River Hawks. He's 15-8-2 and ranks sixth with four shutouts. A fifth-round pick (No. 130) of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2012 NHL Draft, Hellebuyck is a three-time Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week this season and was named the Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for November. He is a marketing major with a GPA of 3.606.
The Big Ten Player and Goaltender of the Year, Wilcox (23-4-6) leads the conference and ranks third nationally in wins (23) and goals against average (1.91), and is third in save percentage (.934). Wilcox is on pace to set a Minnesota single-season record for save percentage and allowed 30 goals in 18 conference games. A sixth-round pick (No. 178) of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Wilcox is undecided on a major and owns a GPA of 3.457.
A standout at Richter's alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, Rumpel is second in the Big Ten and sixth in the nation in goals-against average (2.00) and save percentage (.931) for the sixth-ranked Badgers. The 23-year-old is 19-5-1, ranks fourth nationally with a .780 winning percentage, and has allowed two goals or fewer in nine consecutive games and 18 of 23 starts. Rumpel is a personal finance major with a GPA of 2.84.
Witt, 22, is second in Hockey East and fourth in the nation with a .932 save percentage for the 17th-ranked Huskies and is 17-12-3 with a 2.37 goals-against average and four shutouts. A five-time Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week and Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for January, Witt is a business major with a GPA of 2.77.
Richter won 301 games and a Stanley Cup in a 14-year NHL career spent entirely with the New York Rangers after starring collegiately for Wisconsin. He also led the United States to the World Cup of Hockey championship in 1996 and was named tournament MVP. He was inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005 and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008, and his No. 35 is retired by the Rangers.
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