, Jack Connolly
and Austin Smith
were named Thursday as the three finalists for the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award.
The winner of the award, given to the top player in NCAA hockey, will be announced Friday, April 6 at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., which is also the host city for the 2012 Frozen Four. The announcement will be broadcast at 6 p.m. on NHL Network.
Abbott, a forward from Maine, led the nation with 41 assists and 62 points. He was the player of the year in Hockey East. A senior who began his career as a recruited walk-on, Abbott signed Wednesday with the Toronto Maple Leafs
and is expected to finish this season with the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League.
Connolly, a forward from Minnesota-Duluth, had 20 goals and finished second to Abbott in the scoring race with 60 points this season. He captained the defending-champion Bulldogs this season, and was named the player of the year in the WCHA. He was also a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist last season as well. Connolly is currently a free agent, and should be signed by an NHL team in the coming days.
Smith, a forward from Colgate, led the nation in goals with 36 and finished with 57 points. He also led the nation with six shorthanded goals. Smith was named player of the year in ECAC, and he is the first top-3 finalist for the Hobey from ECAC since 2005. Smith was a fifth-round pick by Dallas in 2007. He signed an entry-level contract Mar. 21, and has played three games for the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League. He's also a Texas native -- Smith was born in Dallas and grew up in the Dallas and Houston areas.
The Frozen Four begins Thursday at Tampa Bay Times Forum, with traditional powers Minnesota and Boston College squaring off in one semifinal while newcomers to this stage Ferris State and Union battle in the other semifinal. The winners will play for the national championship Saturday.