Penguins prospect forward Zach Aston-Reese, who signed with the club on March 14 after leading the NCAA in scoring this season at Northeastern, was named a Hobey Hat Trick Finalist today, making him one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award that goes to college hockey's best player.
Aston-Reese was originally announced as one of the 10 preliminary finalists, with that group pared down to the final three through a combination of fan voting and the 27-person Selection Committee. Union College forward Mike Vecchione and University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher are the other finalists.
The winner will be crowned next weekend live on NHL Network at the Frozen Four on Friday, April 7 at 6:00 PM.
Should Aston-Reese capture the award, he'll join an impressive group that includes the past three winners, Jimmy Vesey of the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres' center Jack Eichel, and three-time NHL All-Star Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames. Other former winners are Kevin Porter, who helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup last year, Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller and former NHL stars Paul Kariya and Chris Drury.
Aston-Reese finished his senior season as the NCAA leader in goals (31), shorthanded goals (4) and points (63), while adding 13 man-advantage tallies in 38 games. His three hat tricks led the nation as well.
Since turning pro on a professional tryout contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the remainder of this season, Aston-Reese has picked up points in each of his four games played, scoring twice and tallying six points. His two-year, entry-level contract with Pittsburgh will kick in next season.