NCAA hockey: Hobey Baker Memorial Award announces top 10 finalists
The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is very pleased to announce the top 10 candidates for the 2017 award honoring college hockey’s top player. Alphabetically, they are: Zach Aston-Reese, Northeastern; Michael Bitzer, Bemidji State; Anders Bjork, Notre Dame; Will Butcher, Denver; Spencer Foo, Union; Tyler Kelleher, New Hampshire; Alexander Kerfoot, Harvard; Tyler Sheehy, Minnesota; Mike Vecchione, Union; and Charles Williams, Canisius.
The 10 finalists were selected by voting from all 60 Division I college hockey head coaches and by online fan balloting. Next, the 27-member Selection Committee and an additional round of fan balloting through the Hobey website at www.hobeybaker.com from March 16-26 will determine this year’s Hobey Baker winner. 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 achievements.
The Hobey Hat Trick (three finalists) will be announced on March 30, 2017, and the Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced Friday, April 7, 2017 from Chicago during the NCAA Frozen Four. The award announcement will take place at the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. The announcement will be televised live on the NHL Network and can be followed on the Hobey Baker website at 6 p.m. ET. Following, in alphabetical order, is a look at each finalist.
Zach Aston-Reese – Northeastern – Senior, Forward, Staten Island, New York
A breakout campaign has vaulted Aston-Reese to the top of the nation’s scoring charts. His 63 points is tied for first, while his 31 goals are unmatched. A consistent scorer all season, assistant captain Aston-Reese has been outstanding on special teams leading the nation with four short-handed goals and has added 13 power play goals.
- Has 31 goals, 32 assists for 63 points in 38 games
- Has 19 multiple-point games
- Has recorded three hat tricks, the most in the nation
- Graphic Design major
- Works with elementary schools in Boston area by reading to classes
Michael Bitzer – Bemidji State – Junior, Goalie, Moorhead, Minnesota
The workhorse goalie for the Beavers has played more minutes than any other tender in the country. Along the way he established a WCHA record with a 1.40 goals-against average during conference games. Besides being the league goalie champion, Bitzer was named WCHA Player of the Year and First Team All-conference. His 1.71 overall goals against average leads the nation as do his six shutouts.
- His final record is 22-14-3
- Already owns several career goalie records at Bemidji
- Has a goals-against average of 1.71 and save percentage of .932 is fourth in the nation
- Exercise Science major
- Volunteers as a gardener at a food shelf; assists youth hockey
Anders Bjork – Notre Dame – Junior, Forward, Mequon, Wisconsin
Notre Dame’s assistant captain has paced the Fighting Irish scoring charts all season with 47 points in 35 games. A solid two-way player, Bjork scores goals at key times and has five game winners so far this season. Bjork is one of five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award for his endless hours of volunteer time at a local elementary school where he is known as “Mr. B.”
- Has 19 goals, 28 assists for 47 points in 35 games
- Boston Bruins draftee (5th round)
- Has 15 multiple-point games so far
- His plus/minus is +18
- Marketing major
- Volunteers with Perley Fine Arts Academy in South Bend, Indiana
Will Butcher – Denver – Senior, Defense, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
The lone defenseman in the top 10, Butcher has proved to be a 200-foot player. He is ranked tied for second in the nation in points by a defenseman (35) and tied for seventh in the nation in plus/minus at +23. Butcher has been named first-team NCHC for the second straight year and is a finalist for the NCHC Player of the Year award and Offensive Defenseman of the Year honors.
- Has 6 goals, 29 assists for 35 points in 38 games
- Colorado draftee (5th round)
- As captain of the Pioneers, Denver were regular-season champs; ranked No. 1 nationally
- Business major
- Hockey Saves volunteer assisting military personal playing hockey
Spencer Foo – Union – Junior, Forward, Edmonton, Alberta
Foo has proved to be one of the most consistent players in the nation, picking up points in all but four of his 36 games to date. He established a school record with a 21-game point streak earlier in the season and will carry a seven game streak into the ECAC championship tournament. Also highly impressive is his plus/minus of +31, the best in the nation.
- Has 24 goals (fifth in nation), 35 assists (third nation) for 59 points (fourth nation) in 36 games
- Was tied for 1st in ECAC scoring and led in assists
- 19 multiple point games
- Economics major
- Assisted in serving Thanksgiving meals at local YMCA
Tyler Kelleher – New Hampshire – Senior, Forward, Longmeadow, Massachusetts
Despite the Wildcats season being over, their sparkplug Tyler Kelleher moved into a tie for the national scoring lead with 63 points in 40 games. An exceptional playmaker, he produced 35 assists to lead the nation. He earned the Hockey East scoring title averaging almost 1.7 points per game and had a total of 18 multiple point games to his credit.
- Has 24 goals, 39 assists for 63 points in 40 games
- 13 power-play goals is third in nation
- Has 75 assists in 77 games over the past two seasons
- Communications major
- Assists a child with a brain tumor in playing hockey
Alexander Kerfoot – Harvard – Senior, Forward, West Vancouver, British Columbia
Harvard has posted a Hobey finalist for the third straight year in co-captain Alex Kerfoot. He has helped guide the Crimson to a tie for first in the ECAC standings and a No. 3 national ranking, due to a current 14-game unbeaten streak. A gifted playmaker, Kerfoot has produced points in nine of his last ten games, including goals in eight of them.
- Has 16 goals, 24 assists for 40 points in 31 games
- Has eight power-play goals
- Is a top 10 finalist for the Senior Class Award
- New Jersey draftee (5th round)
- Economics major
- Volunteers in cleaning a local high school and in fundraising events
Tyler Sheehy – Minnesota – Sophomore, Forward, Burnsville, Minnesota
The lone sophomore in this year’s class is having a terrific season. He currently ranks seventh in the nation in scoring heading into the Big Ten tournament. Sheehy took home multiple conference awards including: Player of the Year, First Team Big Ten and conference co-scoring champion. Sheehy’s efforts on the Gophers top line helped Minnesota to their national record sixth straight regular season championship.
- Has 20 goals, 32 assists for 52 points in 36 games – has 19 multiple point games
- His +23 plus/minus is seventh best in the nation – Business/Marketing major
- Volunteers with Hope Day providing activities for children with severe medical conditions
Mike Vecchione – Union – Senior, Forward, Saugus, Massachusetts
The team captain has had a huge season and is now the program’s all-time career scoring leader while becoming the active career scoring leader in the nation (175 points). Vecchione (VECK-ee-oh-nee) is a finalist for ECAC Player of the Year and Best Defensive Forward. Entering the ECAC playoff tourney, he is third in the nation in points, second in goals and leads the nation with 21 multiple-point games, leads the nation with seven game-winning goals and tied for first with four short-handed tallies.
- Has 29 goals, 33 assists for 62 points in 36 games
- Won 61 percent of faceoffs, fourth in nation
- Points-per-game average of 1.72 is first in the nation
- History major
- Active in many events; spearheaded effort to serve Thanksgiving meals at local YMCA
Charles Williams – Canisius College – Senior, Goalie, Canton, Michigan
As the Golden Griffins soared to the Atlantic Hockey regular season title, they did it on the back of Williams who led the circuit in goals-against average and save percentage. He was named to the AHC First Team and presently leads the nation in save percentage at .946. He’s second in goals against average and is tied for first with six shutouts.
- His record is 21-6-5
- Goals-against average is 1.75; save percentage is .946
- Played 20 games in four years at Ferris State
- Is a graduate transfer and is working on his master’s degree in Sports Administration
- Is vice president of his fraternity