Commentary

Top Hobey candidates get back on track after holidays

Updated: January 7, 2009, 2:08 PM ET
By Inside College Hockey

The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is presented to college hockey's top player on the day before the last game of the season. But that doesn't mean that college hockey fans, players and media members don't think about it all season. Inside College Hockey's Hobey Tracker looks at the top three candidates for the award, those whose stock is rising or falling, and other players worthy of consideration.

BIG BOARD

[+] EnlargeBrock Bradford
Elsa/Getty ImagesCan Brock Bradford and BC keep things going post-holidays?

1. Brock Bradford

Boston College | Senior | Forward

To Date: 14-9--23, 5 PPG, SHG, 3 GWG, +4
Since Last Tracker: The Eagles played two exhibition games at New Brunswick
The Buzz: College hockey slows down during the holiday season, but when Bradford and his mates take the ice at Vermont on Friday, it'll be their first real game in 33 days -- North Dakota played six games and an exhibition match during that same span. Bradford, who's scored more than a quarter of BC's goals this season, resumes the Hobey quest against a Catamount team that's won seven of its past eight games.

2. Ryan Stoa

Minnesota | Junior | Forward

To Date: 11-12--23, 4 PPG, 2 SHG, 2 GWG, +12
Since Last Tracker: 0-1--1, +1
The Buzz: Stoa's break was nearly as quiet as Bradford's, which is unfortunate for him because the Gophers had two games last week and won their holiday tournament, the Dodge Classic. It should be noted that because of injuries and absences, Stoa hasn't played alongside linemates Jordan Schroeder and Jay Barriball since Nov. 22. Will the prolific trio be reunited this weekend at North Dakota?

3. James van Riemsdyk

New Hampshire | Sophomore | Forward

To Date: 9-17--26, 4 PPG, 1 SHG, 1 GWG, +7
Since Last Tracker: Van Riemsdyk was taking part in the World Junior Championship and missed UNH's Jan. 4 game against Maine.
The Buzz: It's been more than a month since van Riemsdyk donned a UNH sweater. JVR hasn't been incognito, however; he was part of the U.S. team competing in the World Junior Championship in Ottawa. While it doesn't help in terms of the Hobey, van Riemsdyk was impressive at the WJC, finishing fourth in scoring with 10 points and tying for second with six goals and three power-play goals.

[+] EnlargeJames van Riemsdyk
Scott A. Schneider/Getty ImagesJames van Riemsdyk returns from the World Junior Championship with 10 more points under his laces.

BULL MARKET

Bryan Leitch
Quinnipiac | Senior | Forward

Leitch has been one of the nation's top point producers all season and currently leads the nation in points (31) and assists (23). But every successful Hobey candidacy is based on team achievement as much as individual accomplishment, and that's what puts Leitch on the list of rising candidates for this award. His Bobcats are 9-2-0 in their past 11 games and have moved into third place in ECAC Hockey. He has five straight multipoint games, which coincides with a five-game Quinnipiac winning streak.

BEAR MARKET

Tyler Bozak
Denver | Sophomore | Forward

At this time last month, factors favoring Bozak's Hobey candidacy were lining up quite nicely. DU was in the midst of what would end up being an eight-game unbeaten streak; Bozak had scored a point in six straight contests; and, perhaps most important, there was serious media buzz regarding Bozak's status as one of college hockey's top undrafted free agents. Then, suddenly, the positive vibe disappears when the Regina, Saskatchewan, native goes down with a knee injury in a Dec. 12 game at Minnesota State. His returning before the WCHA playoffs is unlikely.

HIDDEN HOBEY

Louie Caporusso
Michigan | Sophomore | Forward

Caporusso plays for one of college hockey's marquee programs. He leads the country in goals, the sport's most glamorous statistical category. Even his name lends itself to endless possibilities -- shouldn't there be a YouTube video of his goals set to "Louie, Louie"? But you barely hear a peep about the Ottawa Senators prospect. That could change within the next month as Caporusso (who has five goals and eight points in his past four games) and the Wolverines have series with three high-profile CCHA opponents in Miami, Michigan State and Notre Dame.

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