The Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in college hockey, announced its ten finalists for 2012 and two WCHA players, defenseman Justin Schultz of the University of Wisconsin and forward Jack Connolly of Minnesota-Duluth, are among them.
The ten finalists voted by the coaches and fans as per USCHO.com
Spencer Abbott, Maine forward
Jack Connolly, Minnesota-Duluth forward
Brian Dumoulin, Boston College defenseman
Troy Grosenick, Union goaltender
Shawn Hunwick, Michigan goaltender
Tim Kirby, Air Force defenseman
Torey Krug, Michigan State defenseman
Justin Schultz, Wisconsin defenseman
Austin Smith, Colgate forward
Reilly Smith, Miami forward
Schultz, a 2008 draft pick by the Anaheim Ducks, leads all defensemen this season with 44 points (16 goals - 28 assists) in 37 games en route to being named WCHA Defensive Player of the Year. This is the second consecutive season the Badgers received the honor and he becomes the first player in Wisconsin history to be named a Hobey Baker Finalist two different years.
Connolly is tied with Austin Smith for second in the nation in points with 56 and the WCHA Player of the Year is one of the main catalysts for the high-powered Bulldogs' chase for a second consecutive national championship. Jack also plays on a separate line from teammates J.T. Brown and Travis Oleksuk, both of whom have over 45 points a piece this season.
Both Minnesota Gophers in the 30 nominated players, goalie Kent Patterson and sophomore forward Nick Bjugstad, did not make the cut. It was surprising to see Bjugstad (who is third in the nation with 24 goals) off the list given a number of college hockey publications predicted him there but all the candidates deserve to be there.
The three Hobey Hat Trick Finalists will be named from these ten players on March 29th with the winner being unveiled April 6, 2012 at the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida.
For more coverage of the Minnesota Golden Gophers, check out The Daily Gopher. You can also find more on the WCHA at Western College Hockey.