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Evan Marinofsky | NCAA.com | February 20, 2022

Men's college hockey predictions: 10 candidates for the 2022 Hobey Baker Award

Meet the NCAA men's hockey stars in the Olympics for Team USA

There's no more prestigious individual award in men's college hockey than the Hobey Baker. 

With most players who were over competing in the Olympics back from Beijing, it'll give college hockey fans a great chance to see many of these guys finish out their seasons with their college teams. Still, we've seen enough over the last four and a half months to make a judgment call on the leading candidates for the 2022 Hobey Baker Award. 

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Last season saw Wisconsin's Cole Caufield take home the honor. The year before that was Minnesota Duluth's Scott Perunovich. Both players are enjoying time at the pro level. 

Let's take a look at 10 of the top contenders for the Hobey Baker this season. 

Nathan Smith, Minnesota State | Forward | Junior 

The tone was set for Nathan Smith's terrific year in the Mavericks' first series of the season. In Minnesota State's sweep of then-No. 1 UMass to open this campaign, Smith had two goals and five points over the two wins. His game proceeded to get even better. 

He currently sits at third in the nation in points with 41 in 28 games. The only reason he's No. 3 and not No. 1 is because he missed a series against Bowling Green and this weekend's set against Bemidji State. Up until he left to play for Team USA, he ranked No. 1 in points and points per game. 

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There's a reason Minnesota State is No. 1 in the nation and Smith is a big part of it. 

Matty Beniers, Michigan | Forward | Sophomore 

Despite only having two points in four games with Team USA in Beijing, Beniers was one of the most noticeable players on the ice, showcasing numerous scoring chances and his phenomenal two-way game. 

How does this relate to college? Because all of those traits describe how he's played with Michigan this season. The only difference: There's been a lot of points. Beniers is tied for eighth in the country in points with 36 in 28 games, but was right behind Smith before heading to the Olympics. 

Michigan has a lot of offensive firepower and Beniers has been at the forefront of that this season. 

Devon Levi, Northeastern | Goalie | Sophomore 

Like the first two on this list, Devon Levi spent the last few weeks in Beijing at the Olympics. The only difference was he represented Team Canada. 

While TJ Semptimphelter did a terrific job filling in for Levi at the Beanpot, Levi's been one of college hockey's best goalies this season. His save percentage of .948 ranks second in the country and his goals-against average of 1.55 ranks third. He's a massive reason as to why Northeastern is top-five in fewest goals allowed. 

Jake Sanderson, North Dakota | Defenseman | Sophomore 

It's hard to watch North Dakota and not notice the impact of Jake Sanderson. His fleet feet can be seen escaping pressure, exiting his own zone and creating scoring chances in the opponent's. His 24 points in 21 games rank him first in the nation in points per game among defensemen at 1.14. 

With Team USA eliminated, Sanderson is sure to make an immediate impact upon returning to the Fighting Hawks. They'll need his dynamic, game-changing play in the NCHC postseason. 

Owen Power, Michigan | Defenseman | Sophomore 

Speaking of top-tier defenseman, there's Owen Power. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, Power has made big leaps in his game during his second season of college hockey. 

Before leaving for the Olympics, he was tied for the nation-lead in points by defensemen with 26. His 1.08 points per game ranks second only to Sanderson. He's really embraced the title of do-it-all defenseman for the Wolverines. 

Dryden McKay, Minnesota State | Goalie | Senior

No surprise here. For the fourth year in a row, Dryden McKay is one of the elite goalies in college hockey. 

McKay is no stranger to the Hobey Baker Award. In 2021, he was a Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick Finalist. He was also a finalist for the Mike Richter Award, which is handed out annually to college hockey's top netminder. 

POLL: Here's the latest USCHO poll

This season has seen McKay sport the country's third-best GAA (1.26) and third-best save percentage (.934). He also became the DI men's ice hockey all-time leader in shutouts earlier this season when he blanked Northern Michigan on Oct. 30. He's added six more shutouts since then, bringing his career total to 33. 

Bobby Brink, Denver | Forward | Junior 

Denver has emerged as one of the top teams in college hockey this season. At the time of writing, the Pioneers have the second-best offense in the country. 

At the forefront of all that scoring is junior Bobby Brink. He leads the country in both points and points per game with 49 in 30 games (1.63). He's been scorching hot of late, carrying a 14-game point streak. He's notched 29 points over that span. 

Ethen Frank, Western Michigan | Forward | Graduate student 

In the three seasons prior to this one, Ethen Frank was a meaningful contributor to the Western Michigan offense. But this season has seen a serious jump in numbers for Frank. 

BEANPOT 2022: Relive Boston University's win in this year's Beanpot

He currently leads the nation in goals with 23. He's been vital to why the Broncos boast a top-10 offense in college hockey. His best game of the season came on Nov. 19 when he posted a whopping four goals in a 6-2 win against NCHC-rival St. Cloud State. He's registered multi-goal nights six times this season. 

Bobby Trivigno, UMass | Forward | Senior 

In his college career, Bobby Trivigno has a Hockey East championship and a national championship win. The only accomplishment left is a Hobey Baker Award. 

The 5-foot-8 winger has been consistently excellent this season, posting 38 points in 29 games this season, which is fifth in the nation. The Minutemen got hit with the injury bug midway through the season. Through it all, it was Trivigno who helped keep UMass as one of the top squads in the nation. His 27 points in conference play lead Hockey East. 

Yaniv Perets, Quinnipiac | Goalie | First-year 

Even though he's the only first-year on this list, Yaniv Perets has done more than enough to merit a spot. 

HOBEY HISTORY: Check out the history of the Hobey Baker Award

Perets leads the nation in both GAA (0.85) and save percentage (.953). In partnership with one of the best defensive systems in college hockey, Perets has helped Quinnipiac give up the fewest goals in the nation — only 33 goals in 33 games. It's also not a surprise that he leads the nation in shutouts with 10. He's been phenomenal. 

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