TAMPA, Fla. — Jack Connolly of the University of Minnesota-Duluth was named winner of the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, honoring college hockey’s top player, in a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base on Friday night.
Connolly topped Spencer Abbott of Maine and Austin Smith of Colgate as the announcement was made at the 32nd annual ceremony.
All three were senior forwards for their respective teams.
Baker was a two-sport star at Princeton University in football and hockey, who is considered one of hockey’s first superstars. He died in 1918 when his fighter plane crashed in France shortly after the conclusion of World War I.
Abbott, who was named Hockey East Player of the Year earlier this season, was the leading scorer in NCAA Division I this year with 21 goals and 41 assists for 62 points. His assist total also led the nation. Abbott made the dean’s list three times. He signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs after the Black Bears’ season.
Scott Pellerin (1992) and Paul Kariya (’93) were the two previous UMaine winners of the Hobey Baker.
Connolly, a two-time All-American, was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker for the second straight year. He won the WCHA scoring title and was the league player of the year for the Bulldogs. He finished second to Abbott in scoring with 20 goals and 40 assists and played in all 164 games of his college career.
“Although I’m the one receiving this great honor, it would not have been possible with my teammates and I share this all with them,” Connolly said at the award ceremony.
“I would like to give a special thank you to the UMD coaching staff — head coach Scott Sandelin, current assistant coaches Derek Plante, Jason Herter and Bill Watson, and my two former assistant coaches, Steve Rohlik and Brett Larson, for having a lasting impact on my college hockey career.”
Connolly is the record fifth Minnesota-Duluth player to win the award, following Tom Kurvers (1984), Watson (1985), Chris Marinucci (1994) and Junior Lessard (2004).
“I think Jack epitomizes what the award is about,” Sandelin said. “Obviously, he was a tremendous leader and an offensive catalyst for our team. He had a remarkable career and an even more remarkable senior season. Most of all, Jack has always represented our program in a first-class way and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Smith was the nation’s top goal scorer with 36. He added 21 assists for 57 total points and won the ECAC scoring title. He also led the nation in shorthanded goals with six and also had seven power-play goals. The ECAC named him the Red Raiders leader as its player of the year.
The three finalists were selected from the Top Ten candidates by a 23-member selection committee and an additional round of online fan balloting.
Criteria for the award include displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievement.
Abbott was also named a CCM first team All-American on Friday.
He is the 31st UMaine player to earn All-American honors as 18 players have been selected to first team. The last UMaine player selected was Gustav Nyquist in 2010. He is currently playing for the Detroit Red Wings.
FROZEN FOUR NOTEBOOK: Boston College is accustomed to playing for a national championship. Ferris State is not. That’s the backdrop for Saturday night’s Frozen Four title game between the Eagles (32-10-1), one of the nation’s elite hockey programs, and the Bulldogs (26-11-5), who are competing in only the program’s second NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs compete at the Division II level in other sports. Boston College, the overall No. 1 seed, won its 18th straight game Thursday night by dispatching Minnesota 6-1 in the semifinals. But even though the Eagles seem poised to earn the fifth national championship in program history — and third in five seasons — they are approaching Ferris State with caution. Boston College has outscored its NCAA tournament opponents 12-1. The Eagles have largely been fueled by goaltender Parker Milner, who had a shutout streak of 193 minutes, 49 seconds that was halted when Minnesota scored early in the third period.