The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is presented to a deserving recipient on the day before the last college hockey 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 our picks for the top three candidates for the award and other players worthy of consideration. All statistics are through games of Feb. 1.
The Big Board
Denver | Junior | Goalie
To Date: 21 GP, 14-3-3, .932 save pct., 2.02 GAA, 6 SO
The Skinny: Denver's goalie is playing the best hockey of his career and has already recorded six shutouts this season -- two more than he had in his first two seasons combined. He made 33 saves in his most recent shutout victory Friday at North Dakota and backed that up with a 22-save victory Saturday. It's difficult for goalies to win the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, but Cheverie has a strong chance and his candidacy won't be criticized for playing behind a defensively-oriented team.
Wisconsin | Senior | Forward
To Date: 25 GP, 18-9--27, 10 PPG, 2 GWG, +12
The Skinny: First we flip Denver's Rhett Rakhshani in favor of Cheverie, and now we shuffle Wisconsin defenseman Brendan Smith for his teammate, Geoffrion. Why? In a word, versatility. Watch Geoffrion for a period or so and you'll not only see one of the nation's top goal scorers, but also one of the country's top defensive forwards. Also, he's been at his best in the Badgers' biggest games -- he's scored all but two of his 27 points against WCHA foes.
Maine | Sophomore | Forward
To Date: 24 GP, 14-22--36, 5 PPG, 3 GWG, +9
The Skinny: Nyquist continues to pace the surprising Maine Black Bears, who are currently fourth in Hockey East (with games in hand over the two second-place teams) heading into this weekend's huge two-game series in Orono against rival New Hampshire. The Swedish sophomore is riding a modest three-game point streak and has recorded at least one point in 20 of Maine's 24 games this year and has 11 multiple-point games.
What About This Guy?
A deeper look at a Hobey hopeful and an issue (or issues) surrounding his candidacy.
Tommy Wingels, Miami: The RedHawks have been at or near the top of the national polls the entire season and are currently running away with the CCHA regular-season title. So one would think that on a team that has been so systematically dominant, someone would emerge as a Hobey candidate.
At first glance, Wingels appears to fit the bill. The junior forward is Miami's leader in goals (13), points (29), power-play goals (six), and game-winning goals (five), and most people know who he is after his impressive performance at last year's Frozen Four. However, Wingels is one of four players on the team with more than 24 points and one of one of six RedHawks with 17 or more points; such balance can hinder a candidate's viability. And don't forget goaltender Cody Reichard, who leads the nation in both goals against average and save percentage.
Dan Bakala, Bemidji State: Heading into this season, Dan Bakala's job description would've looked something like this: Replace veteran goalie who led team to conference championship, two wins at the NCAA Midwest Regional, and the school's first-ever Frozen Four, then signed an NHL contract at the conclusion of the season. Similar (or better) results expected in 2009-10.
Through 26 games, Bakala has fulfilled his duties. In addition to his 15-4-2 record, which includes three shutouts, the Calgary native enters the weekend ranked eighth in goals against average (2.10) and seventh in save percentage (.926). More important, he's helped the Beavers maintain a top-10 ranking in the national polls for the majority of the season and has Bemidji State fans thinking of a return trip to the Frozen Four.
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