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Avs Prospect Will Butcher Wins Hobey Baker Award

The University of Denver defenseman is named college hockey's top player

by Heather Ward /

Colorado Avalanche prospect Will Butcher won the 2017 Hobey Baker Memorial Award on Friday, which honors college hockey's top player. Butcher is a senior at the University of Denver and was drafted by the Avs in the fifth round (123rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft.

The defenseman was selected as a Hobey Hat Trick finalist on March 30, alongside Northeastern University senior forward Zach Aston-Reese and Union College senior forward Mike Vecchione. The ceremony was held at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illionis, the host city of the 2017 NCAA Frozen Four.

Butcher is the first blueliner to win the Hobey Baker since Boston University's Matt Gilroy in 2009 and is only the second Pioneer in program history to bring home the award, joining defenseman Matt Carle in 2006. He is the sixth-ever D-man to earn the honor.

"I [want to] thank my teammates, because without them, this honor would not have been possible," Butcher said during his acceptance speech. "As I've said before, I believe this award to be a team award. Tonight as I accept this award, I accept it on the behalf of our entire team at DU. At Denver we talk about following the process and to never focus on the results. My fours years at Denver have been a process. Playing college hockey with such great teammates have been the highlight of my career."

The Sun Praire, Wisconsin, native finished first in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference for points by a defenseman and is second in the nation in scoring by a rear guard with 37 points (seven goals and 30 assists).

The 37th Hobey Baker winner collected several other accolades in his senior campaign at Denver. The Pioneers team captain was named the NCHC Player of the Year, Offensive Defenseman of the Year and picked up First Team All-NCHC honors.

He was also named to the All-Tournament Team at the Midwest Regional, a top 10 finalist for the Senior CLASS Award and is a First Team All-American (west).

Butcher has helped the Pioneers to the NCAA National Championship game after victories over Michigan Tech and Penn State at the Midwest Regional in Cincinnati on March 25-26 and against Notre Dame at the Frozen Four on Thursday night.

As the top NCAA men's hockey player, Butcher is eyeing one more trophy to share with his teammate before his colligate career comes to a close. He'll get the chance to do it on Saturday night as the No. 1 overall seed Denver faces Minnesota Duluth in the national title game at the United Center in Chicago.


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