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Nathan Wells | | January 16, 2019

Predicting the college hockey award winners through the first half of the season

Watch Minnesota's Blake McLaughlin's late game heroics

Slightly past the midway point of the season, things are clearing up among the Division I men’s college hockey landscape. Teams have settled in and players have made their mark.

Of the top-15 men’s hockey scorers currently, some of the home areas represented include Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Long Island, Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Indiana. Minnesota, Michigan and Massachusetts each have one representative. Goalies who played major roles on the top-five teams come from Slovakia, Sweden, California, St. Louis and North Carolina, in addition to Alberta and Minnesota.

Likewise, the list of players who earned their way into conversation for the major awards with their first half performances come from a variety of schools. No one conference or area has a hold.

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With the second half underway and fan voting for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award — given to college hockey’s top men’s Division I player — beginning Wednesday, this was a good time to take a look at the best of the first half and who are the frontrunners for the major awards such as the Hobey, Mike Richter Award (given to the top goaltender), and Tim Taylor Rookie of the Year (given to the top freshman).

While there is plenty of season remaining for anyone on the outside to make a case, here are the nominees and a prediction for who will win the major college hockey awards based on the first half of the season.

OTHER: Duluth knocks off top-ranked St. Cloud State

Hobey Baker Award:

Nominees (in alphabetical order): Evan Barratt, F, Penn State; Adam Fox, D, Harvard; Taro Hirose, F, Michigan State; Ryan Kuffner, F, Princeton; Cale Makar, D, Massachusetts; Dylan McLaughlin, F, Canisius; Marc Michaelis, F, Minnesota State; Chase Priskie, D, Quinnipiac; Jimmy Schuldt, D, St. Cloud State; Johnny Walker, F, Arizona State

The nominees here all made a major impact in the first half. Barratt, who had the most goals of the first half, spent much of the first two months leading the nation in scoring alongside teammate Alex Limoges before Hirose recently pulled away. Walker leads the nation in goals. Michaelis and Makar, meanwhile, played major roles in Minnesota State leading the WCHA and Massachusetts leading Hockey East, respectively. Several defensemen are in the running to be the second blue liner to win the Hobey in three years.

My pick: Priskie. In a year of defensemen, Priskie represented the blue line the best in the first half. With 13 goals, the senior from Penbroke Pines, Florida already matched last season’s top defensemen goal total. Doing so on a team that has been one of the best in the ECAC both in the standings and defensively goes a long way.

Top Goalie:

Nominees: Ryan Bednard, Bowling Green; Joey Daccord, Arizona State; Hayden Hawkey, Providence; Jake Kielly, Clarkson; Ryan Larkin, Miami; Stefanos Lekkas, Vermont; Matt Murray, Massachusetts; Tommy Nappier, Ohio State; Mat Robson, Minnesota; Andrew Shortridge, Quinnipiac

Each of these nominees should be in the running for the Mike Richter Award. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two make their way into the Hobey Baker discussion when all is said and done, either. Shortridge’s .961 save percentage over 11 games stands out while Hawkey and him had two of the best saves so far this year. Bednard and Robson have played key roles for their teams. The toughest goalies to leave out were Northern Michigan’s Ante Tolvanen — the only goalie to score a goal in the first half — last year’s Mike Richter Award winner Cale Morris, and Denver’s platoon of Devin Cooley and Filip Larsson. Together they have made what could be a tough transition easy as the Pioneers remain in the top five.

My pick right now: Daccord. This is close, but no goalie has meant as much to their team in the first half as the junior, who has started every game for Arizona State. Despite facing over 31 shots per game, Daccord has a .930 save percentage. His nation-leading 6 shutouts are a key reason why the Sun Devils could make its first NCAA Tournament appearance.

Top Rookie:

Nominees: Angus Crookshank, F, New Hampshire; Marc Del Gaizo, D, Massachusetts; Casey Dornbach, F, Harvard; Jack Dugan, F, Providence; Joel Farabee, F, Boston University; Cole Guttman, F, Denver; Tyler Madden, F, Northeastern; K’Andre Miller, D, Wisconsin; Drew O’Connor, F, Dartmouth; Mattias Samuelsson, D, Western Michigan; Ludwig Stenlund, F, Niagara; Aarne Talvitie, F, Penn State; Nolan Walker, F, St. Cloud State; Cooper Zech, D, Ferris State

Enough first-year players were key components to the point where I ended up with 15 freshmen instead of 10. Zech and Miller, who missed two games representing the United States in the World Junior Championships, each lead their team in scoring as freshmen defensemen. Talvitie was one of Penn State’s top forwards during the first half, but unfortunately will miss the rest of the season with an injury. Madden is averaging over a point per game for the Huskies while Crookshank has a been a bright spot for the Wildcats.

My pick right now: Dugan. Besides leading all freshmen with 25 points (8G-17A) in 23 games, the Providence forward continues to be consistent. Dugan has points in 8 of his last 9 games, playing in a top-six role on a team that has Hockey East and NCAA Tournament ambitions. The Vegas Golden Knights draft pick began the season by being named the Hockey East rookie of the month two months in a row.

Coaches of the First Half (by conference):

Atlantic Hockey: Eric Lang, AIC

Big Ten: Steve Rohlik, Ohio State

ECAC: Rand Pecknold, Quinnipiac

Hockey East: Greg Carvel, Massachusetts

NCHC: Brett Larson, St. Cloud State

WCHA: Mike Hastings, Minnesota State

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