Gaudreau, Hartzell and LeBlanc finalists for Hobey Baker Memorial Award
The Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation on Wednesday announced the three Hobey Hat Trick finalists for the 2013 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, honoring college hockey’s top player. Alphabetically, they are: Johnny Gaudreau, sophomore forward from Boston College; Eric Hartzell, senior goalie from Quinnipiac; and Drew LeBlanc, senior forward from St. Cloud State.
The three finalists were selected from the initial list of 10 candidates by the 23-member selection committee and an additional round of online fan balloting. Criteria for the award includes: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.
This year’s Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced April 12 from Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh during the Frozen Four. The 33rd annual announcement will be aired live on the NHL Network at 6 p.m. ET, and at the Hobey website, www.hobeybakeraward.com. Here is more on this year’s three finalists:
Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College
Back-to-back 21 goal seasons is a fantastic way to start your college career, and so is posting 95 total points. A smallish scoring dynamo, Gaudreau (pronounced GOO-dreau) proved he can make plays as well as score goals by leading Hockey East in both points and assists. He completed his season tied for fourth in the nation in scoring while tied for eighth in both goals and assists. Gaudreau recorded 21 goals and 30 assists for 51 points in 35 games. He also contributed four power-play goals and is tied for second in the nation with six game-winning goals. His scoring exploits saw him average 1.46 points per game, topping everyone in the nation.
Gaudreau was duly honored, heralded as a first-team all-star in Hockey East and was named its player of the year. A communications major, Gaudreau, from Carney Point, N.J., joins in volunteering in a variety of team functions as well as visiting Children’s Hospital, elementary schools and assisting race day for a 5K fundraiser. He was a draft choice of Calgary (fourth round) and missed two games this past season to play for the U.S. World Junior Team, earning a gold medal while leading the IIHF tournament with seven goals.
Eric Hartzell, Quinnipiac
There is a reason why Quinnipiac is making its first trip to the Frozen Four. The Bobcats are firmly anchored in net by their outstanding goalie. The Bobcats are ranked No.1 and have the top overall team defense in the nation (1.63). Hartzell has been a workhorse and will end up leading the nation in minutes played. In 40 games so far, Hartzell has a 1.55 goals-against average (third in the nation) and a .933 saves percentage (eighth in the nation). His overall record in 40 games is 29-6-5, good enough for the second-best win percentage in the country and he has the most wins.
While leading all ECAC goalies in conference play, the league acknowledged him as a first-team all-star, player of the year and goalie of the year. Remarkably, he allowed two goals or less in 34 games and at one point, posted a 21-game unbeaten streak. Hartzell, from White Bear Lake, Minn., is a pro hockey free agent and is a marketing major. He is an active volunteer visiting elementary schools, assisting at hockey clinics and a participant in the team’s St. Baldrick’s annual fundraiser.
Drew LeBlanc, St. Cloud State
Coming off a redshirt season after breaking his leg last year, Drew LeBlanc (pronounced la-BLAH) has proved to be a masterful playmaker. Skating with two freshmen for portions of the season, the two-year captain has helped guide the Huskies to their first Frozen Four and will try to score on Hartzell in the upcoming national semifinals. He entered the tournament leading the nation in assists (37) and is seventh in points (50), just three from the top. LeBlanc has scored 13 goals, including three on the power play and three that proved to be game-winners in the 41 games he has played.
Named first-team all-conference, LeBlanc attained a first in the 52-year history of the WCHA, being named both the outstanding student-athlete of the year and the player of the year. A four-time All-Academic student, he has been student-teaching all season to complete his requirements for his math education major. LeBlanc, from Hermantown, Minn., finds time assisting with new student move-ins, helps out at hockey clinics and the Skate with the Huskies events. He is a pro hockey free agent.