Boston University coach Jack Parker has coached two Hobey Baker Award winners: Chris Drury in 1996 and Matt Gilroy last season.
Providence College coach Tim Army was a Hobey Baker Award finalist in 1985.
Both said University of Maine sophomore right wing Gustav Nyquist is a legitimate candidate to win the nation’s most prestigious college hockey award.
“I’ve got him listed as among the top three players in the country,” said Parker. “He’s a terrific player. He does everything well and he makes all the players around him better.”
“He’s one of the best players I’ve seen in the league in my five years,’” said Army. “I haven’t seen all the players around the country but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better player. He’s dynamic.
“He’s one of those guys who can get you on the edge of your seat. If you’re a college hockey fan, you enjoy watching him play. At any moment, he can change the momentum of a game,” added Army, who was a similar type of player for the Friars.
Nyquist has the credentials to win it.
He leads the nation in scoring (56 points), assists (38) and points per game (1.65).
The last four forwards to win the award had totals ranging from 57 to 64 points.
He is working on a seven-game points streak (4 goals, 12 assists) and he has at least a point in 29 of 34 games.
He has collected at least two points in 17 games and has seven game-winning points (4 goals, 3 assists).
He leads the nation’s best power-play unit in man-advantage points (24) and is Maine’s plus-minus leader at plus-12.
A player receives a plus-one if he is on the ice when his team scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal and a minus- one if he’s on the ice when the opposing team does so.
“I’m very honored to be even mentioned as a candidate,” said Nyquist. “But there’s still a long way to go. I would trade the Hobey Baker Award for a national championship any day.”
Nyquist credits linemates Brian Flynn and Tanner House for his success.
He said he wouldn’t have 56 points “if they didn’t put the puck in the net when I passed it to them or they didn’t get me the puck [for his goals].”
Nyquist plays in all situations. In addition to playing a vital role on the half-boards on the power play, he kills penalties and plays in the first and last minutes of periods.
“He takes a beating but he keeps coming,” said Army. “He moves the puck extremely well, he’s quick to jump into [open ice] and he takes the puck into traffic.”
“He’s one of those guys you want to get on the ice as much as possible,” said Merrimack coach Mark Dennehy.
Nyquist is a marked man and the fact he has racked up 56 points with a target on his back is impressive.
And when it comes to making everybody around him a better player, House has 14 goals this season after having never scored more than 14 in a Junior hockey season. And Flynn, a former recruited walk-on overlooked by virtually every school, has 41 points this season and 66 in two seasons.
Nyquist, who is also an excellent student and an affable person, is deserving of the award.
There will be stiff competition from the likes of Denver goalie Marc Cheverie (22-4-3, 1.97 goals-against average, .937 save percentage) and LW Rhett Rakhshani (20 goals, 28 assists), UNH right wing Bobby Butler (25 & 22) and Wisconsin defenseman Brendan Smith (15 & 25).
The further Maine goes in the Hockey East playoffs, the better his chances.