Four of the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, the annual honor bestowed on the nation’s top Division I college hockey player, have State of Hockey ties.
Eric Hartzell, Quinnipiac University, Danny Kristo, University of North Dakota, Drew LeBlanc, St. Cloud State University, and Ryan Walters, University of Nebraska Omaha all hail from Minnesota.
Candidates meet certain criteria including: exhibiting strength of character both on and off the ice; contributing to the integrity of the team and display outstanding skills in all phases of the game; scholastic achievement and sportsmanship; and comply with all NCAA rules.
All 10 of the candidates have shown strength of character throughout the season, but we’re a little more apt to support the homegrown talent, so lets take a closer look at the Minnesotans.
Eric Hartzell is a senior goaltender from White Bear Lake. He’s a big reason the Bobcats are ranked No. 1 in the nation. He led all ECAC goalies in conference play and was named Goalie of the Year, Player of the Year and First Team ECAC. His 1.50 goals against average is fourth best in league history and currently places him third in the nation. He was also the ECAC Goalie of the Month three of the five times it’s been awarded.
• His regular-season record is 26-5-5 – his 26 wins are the most in the nation
• His save percentage is .935, is tied for sixth in the nation – has 4 shutouts
• Had a streak of 21 straight games without a loss – Marketing major – active volunteer
Danny Kristo is a senior forward from Eden Prairie. Kristo had 24 goals to rank third in the nation in goal scoring during the regular season. An assistant captain, Kristo was named First Team WCHA, finishing second in the conference in goals and points.
• 24 goals, 26 assists for 50 points in 38 games was third in the nation in regular-season scoring
• Recreation and Tourism Studies major and is very active in community volunteering
• Montreal draft pick (2nd round) – has 14 multiple point games
Drew LeBlanc is senior forward from Hermantown. LeBlanc has had quite a haul of hardware already: named a WCHA First Team and winner of both the Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year and the Player of the Year Awards – a first in the 52 year history of the WCHA. The outstanding playmaker has 37 assists to lead the nation during the regular season and 50 total points to rank third overall, just two points back.
• Completing his student teacher requirements for Math Education major – 3.64 GPA
• Has 13 goals, 37 assists for 50 points in 38 games – active in several volunteer efforts
• Coming off redshirt season after severely broken leg – four-time All-Academic
Ryan Walters is a junior forward from Rosemount. He was the WCHA regular-season scoring champion and led the nation in scoring with 52 total points. He was named First Team WCHA for his efforts and completed his season a plus-26, ranking him second in the nation in plus-minus rating. Equally adept at scoring and playmaking, Walters was fifth in the nation in goals (22) and eighth in assists (30).
• Finishes season with 22 goals, 30 assists for 52 points in 39 games – 5 power play goals
• Business major and WCHA Scholar Athlete
• Had 40 points in 28 WCHA games to lead conference - had points in 28 of last 32 games
The other seven nominees are: Greg Carey, St. Lawrence, Carsen Chubak, Niagara, Austin Czarnik, Miami, Kyle Flanagan, St. Lawrence, Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College, and Corban Knight, North Dakota.
Find out more and vote for your favorite player at HobeyBakerAward.com.