University of Maine junior right wing Gustav Nyquist has become just the third player in the Black Bears’ 34-year history to become a two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist.
Nyquist was named one of 10 finalists for Division I college hockey’s most prestigious award on Thursday night while also being named to the All-Hockey East first team for the second straight year. He was also a first-team All-American last year.
He was a Hockey East All-Rookie team pick in 2008-2009.
Maine senior defenseman Josh Van Dyk was named to the All-Hockey East second team and was also the the runner-up to Boston College’s Brian Dumoulin of Biddeford for the league’s Best Defensive Defenseman Award.
Nyquist joins David Capuano (1988, ‘89) and Jean-Yves Roy (1991, ‘92) as the only two-time Hobey finalists.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Malmo, Sweden, was a Hobey Baker Hat Trick (final three) finalist a year ago when he led the nation in scoring with 61 points (19 goals, 42 assists) in 39 games.
Nyquis racked up 51 points (18 & 33) in 36 games this season and finished strong with points in 11 of his last 12 games (11 & 10). He had at least one point in 30 games and had 14 multiple-point games.
Nyquist had 21 power-play points (5 & 16), eight game-winning points (1 & 7) and had two goals and an assist while shorthanded.
He ranks seventh in the country in scoring and sixth in points per game (1.42). He is also tied for fourth in assists and assists per game (0.92).
Nyquist said he was surprised about being a Hobey Baker finalist.
“It’s such a huge honor and I think you’re always a little surprised. I was surprised last year,” said Nyquist. “There are so many good hockey players in college hockey. It’s so tough to narrow it down to 10 and then to three and then to pick a winner, obviously.”
He said it is difficult for him to assess his season “because my biggest goal was to help the team make a run at the Hockey East title as well as to get us into the NCAA Tournament.
“So it’s a little disappointing,” said Nyquist, whose Bears were eliminated in two games by Merrimack in the Hockey East quarterfinals last weekend and are a longshot to make the NCAA tournament. “I love all my teammates. And if it ends here, it will be tough to go out like this.”
“He’s a difference-maker,” Merrimack College coach Mark Dennehy said of Nyquist. “He’s one of those guys who separates his team from other teams.”
“He’s really heady, he has good quickness and he’s shifty,” added Dennehy. “He looked to shoot more toward the end of the season because people were taking away the pass and he became a more effective all-around player.”
UMass coach Don Cahoon called Nyquist, “a terrific player” and one of the best in the country the past few years.
“He has been one of the craftiest players in our league the last few years,” said Cahoon. “He can read plays and he makes the other people around him better.”
The dynamic Nyquist was an assistant captain this season and has 144 career points (50 & 94) in 113 games, tying him for 17th on the school’s all-time scoring list.
Van Dyk had a career single-season high of three goals to go with 15 assists for 18 points in 36 games.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Woodstock, Ontario, had 3 & 5 in his final six games.
Van Dyk finished tied for the team lead at plus-nine.
“He makes really good decisions,” said Cahoon. “A lot of people underestimated his defense. He makes great decisions with the puck coming out of the (defensive) zone and does a lot to steady his team when they’re under pressure.”
“He does his job and doesn’t get beat. He takes care of business,” said Dennehy.
Van Dyk called it a “great honor.
“I wasn’t ready for it but I’m happy about it,” said Van Dyk. “Playing against our forwards every day in practice makes our defense better. There is so much talent on our top two lines. We have a great team. I hope the season isn’t over yet.”
“Josh had an unbelievable year,” said Nyquist. “He was one of our most improved players. He has always been good but he took his game to the next level this year.”