BOSTON – Boston University freshman Jack Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award on Friday as the top player in college hockey.
Eichel, who is expected to be one of the first two players selected this year in the NHL draft, is just the second freshman to win the award in its 35-year history. The other was Paul Kariya, who won at Maine before going on to a 15-year NHL career in which he scored more than 400 goals.
The Hobey Baker Memorial Award announced Friday the 2015 recipient of college hockey’s top individual prize is Jack Eichel from Boston University. The announcement came during the NCAA Frozen Four championship in a live ceremony held at historic Matthews Arena in Boston.
Eichel, becomes only the second freshman in the award’s 35-year history to win the Hobey. Paul Kariya of the University of Maine accomplished the feat in 1993. The 18-year-old rookie sensation has had a fantastic season and leads the nation in points (70), assists (44), power-play points (23) and plus-minus (plus-51).
Saving his best for last, Eichel has scored eight goals and seven assists in seven playoff games, while registering a plus-15. In Thursday night’s national semifinal 5-3 victory against North Dakota at TD Garden in Boston, Eichel produced two goals and an assist. The Terriers will now meet the Hockey East rival Providence Friars for the national championship Saturday night.
Hobey Baker was the legendary Princeton (1914) hockey player known as America’s greatest amateur athlete one hundred years ago. He redefined how the game was played with his coast-to-coast dashes in an era when hockey was contested with seven players and no forward passes.
Matthews Arena, built in 1910, is the last remaining rink where Hobey Baker played. Baker, a member of the U.S. Army’s Air Corp, died testing a repaired aircraft at the end of World War I after he had completed his military service. The Hobey Baker Award criteria includes: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements. Eichel was selected from a group of 10 finalists by a 27-member selection committee and online fan balloting.
As the first freshman Hobey top 10 candidate in 12 years, Eichel has already claimed multiple awards having been named the Hockey East Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, conference scoring champion, First Team Hockey East, a member of the All-Rookie Team and was named Most Valuable Player at the Hockey East playoff tournament.
Earlier Friday, Eichel was named the National Rookie of the Year by the Hockey Commissioners Association and a First Team All-American by the Hockey Coaches Association.
A fluid, effortless skater, Eichel has made everyone around him successful with his uncanny hockey sense, regularly setting up teammates. Eichel began the school year as a 17-year-old, recorded two goals and two assists in his first college hockey game and continued by recording points in 10 consecutive games (7 goals, 12 assists) to open his college career.
He heads into the national championship game having collected points in 14 of his past 15 games (11 goals, 19 assists). In 39 games this season, Eichel has 26 goals and 44 assists for 70 points.
Eichel is projected by many hockey experts to be a top two NHL draft selection this June.
Additionally, he captained the U.S. team in the most recent World Junior tournament held in Canada.
A native of North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Eichel is enrolled in the College of General Studies. He spends off-ice time mentoring an 11-year old brain cancer patient and helps out with the Terriers team partnership with Autism Speaks.
Finalist Jimmy Vesey from Harvard led all skaters with 32 goals this season, but his 58 points in 37 games fell well shy of Eichel’s totals. The 21-year-old Vesey was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the third round (66th overall) in 2012.
Goaltender Zane McIntyre also missed out on the top honor, but he didn’t go home empty-handed. McIntyre (formerly Gothberg) was named winner of the Mike Richter Award as the NCAA’s most outstanding goaltender earlier in the day.
The Boston Bruins prospect had a 29-10-3 record with a 2.05 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 42 games for the University of North Dakota. His UND squad fell to Eichel’s BU boys at the Frozen Four tournament on Thursday.
The UND goalie is just the second recipient of the Mike Richter Award, after Connor Hellebuyck won it with UMass-Lowell last year. In an odd little twist Friday, the Winnipeg Jets called up Hellebuyck for his first NHL appearance to close out the team’s season.
McIntyre could choose to turn pro after the Frozen Four wraps up, touching off a bidding war the likes of which we saw last year with Kevin Hayes (drafted by the Blackhawks, signed by the Rangers) and the year before with Justin Schultz (drafted by the Ducks, signed by the Oilers).
Eichel could easily start next season in the NHL, following in the footsteps of last year’s Hobey Baker winner, Johnny Gaudreau, who just helped the Calgary Flames make the playoffs.
At this rate, Eichel could turn out to be a better player than any of them – even Kariya.
Daniel Ciampini — Union (N.Y.), Senior, Forward, Concord, Ontario
A prolific goal scorer, Ciampini has bagged 49 goals in the past two seasons including 26 goals this year for the defending national champions. Dangerous on the power play, his nine goals with the man advantage are second best in the nation. Ciampini finished second in ECAC scoring and is currently tied for fourth nationally in points.
• Finished the season with 26 goals, 24 assists for 50 points in 39 games
• Is an Economics major – is one of 20 candidates for Senior CLASS Award
• Started a program at a local hospital allowing young patients to attend Union games
Jack Eichel — Boston University, Freshman, Forward, North Chelmsford, Massachusetts
The first freshman Hobey candidate in 12 years, this 18-year old sensation leads the nation in scoring, collecting 61 points in just 34 games. Eichel was the Hockey East scoring champion, a member of the All-Rookie Team and has received numerous weekly and monthly honors along the way. His plus-minus of +42 also leads the nation.
• Has 20 goals, 41 assists for 61 points in 34 games — his 41 assists leads the nation
• Is a General Studies major — mentors a brain cancer youth and helps with Autism Speaks
• Was captain of the U.S. World Junior Team — considered a top three NHL draft pick
Matt Garbowsky — Rochester Institute of Technology, Senior, Forward, St. George, Ontario
Garbowsky lit up the Atlantic Hockey Association topping the conference in points and goals and has been a part of 45% of all RIT goals this season. The Tigers team captain was a unanimous pick for the AHA First Team. An outstanding centerman, he has more face-off wins than any other player in Division I hockey. His plus-minus of +24 is tied for fifth in the nation.
• Has 26 goals, 24 assists for 50 points in 36 games — has had 11 multiple-point games
• Is tied for 4th in the nation in points and tied for 2nd in goals — Business major
• Spearheads fundraising efforts for Coaches Care, Wounded Warriors, Sled Hockey
Zach Hyman — Michigan, Senior, Forward, Toronto, Ontario
A breakout season for the Wolverines assistant captain, as Hyman almost tripled his point total from a season ago. His consistent play earned him First Team Big Ten honors, while leading the conference in scoring. Hyman produced 49 points and ranks fourth in the nation in points per game averaging 1.44. His plus-minus of +21 is second in the conference.
• Has 19 goals, 30 assists for 49 points in 34 games — has 14 multiple-point games
• Florida draft pick (5th round) — History major with highest GPA on team
• A published author of several children’s books — promotes literacy with school visits
Tanner Kero — Michigan Tech, Senior, Forward, Hancock, Michigan
A hometown product at Tech, Kero has already landed a truckload of awards having been named the WCHA Player of the Year, Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year, WCHA scoring champion and First Team all-conference. The co-captain has been instrumental in helping Tech climb back to national prominence. His plus-minus of +23 is second in the conference.
• Has 19 goals, 26 assists for 45 points in 38 games — has had 12 multiple-point games
• Is a Mathematics major (actuarial science) with 3.72 GPA — is a 3-time WCHA Scholar-Athlete
• Volunteers with Koaches Kids (reading at schools) and at several fun runs
Joey LaLeggia — Denver, Senior, Defense, Burnaby, British Columbia
An accomplished and well-rounded overall defenseman, LaLeggia has already been named First Team all-conference for the third time and is a finalist for two other NCHC awards he won last year: Defensive Player of the Year and Offensive Defenseman of the Year, while also adding Player of the Year consideration this season.
• Has 13 goals, 25 assists for 38 points in 34 games – finished 2nd in NCHC scoring race
• Is 3rd in the nation for points by defenseman – Edmonton draft pick (5th round)
• Named first or second team all-conference all four years; was national rookie of year as freshman
Zane McIntyre — North Dakota, Junior, Goalie, Thief River Falls, Minnesota
McIntyre has already become UNDs all-time leader in career goals against average and save percentage. He has been named First Team NCHC and is a finalist for Player of the Year honors as well as a second time finalist for Goalie of the Year. He has played in all but one game this season for North Dakota and ranks as the third busiest goalie in the nation.
• Currently has a record of 27-7-3 with one shutout — his 27 wins leads the nation
• Has a goals against average of 1.97 (9th nation) — save percentage of .932 (6th nation)
• Majoring in Psychology and pre-occupational therapy – Boston draft pick (6th round)
Mike Reilly — Minnesota, Junior, Defense, Chanhassen, Minnesota
As the highest scoring defenseman in the nation, Reilly is a slick playmaker who has 36 assists, tied for second overall in the nation. Particularly dangerous with the man advantage, Reilly has 21 points on the power play, also tied for 2nd in the nation. For the second consecutive year, he was honored by the Big Ten as Defensive Player of the Year and First Team all-conference.
• Has 6 goals, 36 assists for 42 points in 36 games — leads Minnesota in scoring
• His twin brothers Connor and Ryan play for Minnesota; sister Caitlin for Ohio State
• Columbus draft pick (4th round) — Applied Economics major
Jimmy Vesey — Harvard, Junior, Forward, North Reading, Massachusetts
Harvard’s first Hobey finalist in ten years has had a huge season, winning the ECAC scoring title while piling up 53 points. He also leads the nation with 27 goals. Vesey was off to the races early earning points in each of the first 20 games of the season and followed it up with the double-overtime series clinching goal in the ECAC quarter final win against Yale on Mar. 15.
• Has 27 goals, 26 assists for 53 points in 34 games — ranks 3rd in the nation in points
• Finalist for Walter Brown Award for third consecutive year as top player in New England
• Nashville draft pick (3rd round) — Government major — assists with Special Olympics
Cody Wydo — Robert Morris, Senior, Forward, Allen Park, Michigan
While helping the Colonials to their first conference championship, Wydo set several school records becoming their all-time scoring leader. Honored with First Team AHA recognition for the second consecutive season, he finished third in the circuit in scoring. The team captain has tallied 50 goals over the past two seasons including 19 this season.
• Has 19 goals, 22 assists for 41 points in 36 games — has two hat tricks this season
• Finance and Accounting major with 3.67 GPA — Senior CLASS Award finalist
• Three times All Academic — youth hockey volunteer coach
• Nominees by conference: AHA – 2, Big 10 – 2, ECAC – 2, NCHC – 2, Hockey East – 1, WCHA – 1
• By class: Senior 6, Junior 3, Freshman 1
• By position: Forward 7, Defense 2, Goalie 1
• By nationality: U.S. — 6 (2 each: Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota), Canada — 4 (Ontario-3, British Columbia-1)
• All ten finalists are making their first appearance as a candidate
• Minnesota and Union (N.Y.) have finalists for the 2nd consecutive year; Robert Morris has a finalist for the first time; all six college hockey conferences are represented
• Hobey Baker Award Banquet will be held May 28, 2015 in St. Paul, Minnesota
• Visit www.hobeybakeraward.com or on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/TheHobey
• The Hobey Baker website also has the top ten video and in-depth bios