The Hobey Baker Award presentation is about five weeks away. You know most of the names that have vied for the top honor in college hockey all season, and my colleague Adam Wodon and I have done our best to highlight players deserving of consideration in CSTV’s Friday Night Hockey studio show.
In the last few weeks, we have discussed Ryan Potulny, Bernd Bruckler, Steve Silverthorn, Scott Mifsud, Noah Welch, Marty Sertich, Brett Sterling, Patrick Eaves, Sean Collins, Robbie Earl, T.J. Hensick, Jeff Tambellini, Preston Callander, Jim Slater, Jason Guerriero and David McKee. And we should add Harvard goalie Dov Grumet-Morris on that list, as he has really impressed recently.
However, there are some great players in the NCAA that tend to fly under the radar screen because they either play outside of the big four conferences (CCHA,WCHA, ECACHL, Hockey East) or in one of those conferences but for a program that is lesser known on the national scene (Ferris State, St. Lawrence, Nebraska-Omaha, Miami).
Therefore, to dispel the notion that New Yorkers don’t look past the Hudson River, north of Yankee Stadium, or south of Staten Island, here is my list of the top players in the NCAA you have not heard enough of.
- Colin Murphy, Sr, RW, Michigan Tech.
- Brent Walton, Jr, RW, Western Michigan
- Scott Parse, So, F, Nebraska-Omaha
- Barret Ehgoetz, F, Sr. Niagara
- Bill Thomas, F, Fr, Nebraska-Omaha
- T.J. Treveylan, F, Jr. St. Lawrence
- Bruce Mulherin, C, Jr, Alabama-Huntsville
- Jared Ross, C, Sr. Alabama-Huntsville
- Andy Greene, D, Jr. Miami
- Ryan Gale, F, Sr, Niagara
Bonus Pick: Jeff Legue, C, Sr. Ferris State
Injured: Jordan Hendry, D, Alaska-Fairbanks
At the top of the list is Colin Murphy of Michigan Tech (WCHA). Now, here’s a program that has just wreaked havoc with the WCHA race recently, splitting in Denver, sweeping the Gophers in Minnesota, and taking a pair at Duluth — all since New Year’s Day. One of the reasons was the play of Murphy.
At Denver, he had two assists in a 3-1 win. Against the Gophers he had a goal and three assists in the series opener, and followed with a goal and an assist the next night to help complete the sweep. In Duluth, he set up a trio of Huskies’ goals in those wins.
He currently sits third in NCAA scoring (11-40–51) behind CC’s dynamic duo of Sterling and Sertich. Of 31 games this season, he’s been blanked only five times. He enters the weekend on an 11-game point scoring streak, notching an impressive 5-18–23 tally in that span. He has 15 multiple-point games, including a five-assist night earlier this season vs. Northern Michigan and a four-assist night against Notre Dame. He must be considered a Hobey Baker candidate.
Heading slightly east, we find the Broncos of Western Michigan and fan favorite Brent Walton. This 5-foot-9, 170-pound slick skating forward currently sits in a fifth-place tie in the NCAA scoring race (44 pts), is tied for seventh in assists (26), and has eight of his 18 goals on the power play. 17 of those 44 points have come on the road, which is no easy feat in the CCHA, a conference known for its home-ice advantage and great goaltending.
Walton has a hat trick this season, which he notched at Bemidji State, and started the season with a streak of nine multiple-point games. He has points in 23 of 30 games played this season, and in those 23 games, a mind-blowing 17 are of the multiple-point variety. He’s also on the Hobey radar.
Next stop is Omaha, where Nebraska-Omaha forward Scott Parse is enjoying a great season. The 6-1, 185 lb native of Michigan also boasts 44 points, is tied for 7th with 26 assists, and has seven power play goals for the Mavericks. Parse opened the season well by posting nine points in his first four games. He has had point streaks of nine and eight games, and 14 multiple-point games. At Lake Superior last weekend, he had five points, including four assists last Friday. Two weeks ago in a losing effort, he led a game effort by the Mavs in a 6-4 loss to Michigan with 2-1–3.
“He came into our program unheralded, and then went out and set the record for points by a freshman,” said head coach Mike Kemp. “He’s a much more complete player than most people notice. While he can score, his ability to backcheck and make highlight-reel hits are also a big part of his contributions here.”
Parse is a right shot who plays the left wing, and is within three points of setting the single season record for scoring at UNO.
We’ll come back to Omaha in a minute, but first we fly over Niagara Falls to Niagara University. Last season’s College Hockey America champs boast a shifty playmaker in Barret Ehgoetz, who like Brent Walton, comes to the NCAA via the Elmira (Ont.) Sugar Kings junior organization. The diminutive senior forward comes off a career best 52-point season last year, and his 41 points this season have been a boost to the Eagles. While leading the CHA in assists, he ranks ninth in NCAA scoring and seventh in assists (in a three-way tie with Walton and Parse).
Ehgoetz has shattered the scoring records at Niagara in his career, which has always seen him near the top of the NCAA scoring list.
“Statistically, he has been in the national spotlight with the top players in the country for the past four years,” said coach Dave Burkholder. “For us, he has been more than that. He’s a great leader and a fierce competitor.”
While this has been another great season for Ehgoetz, it will be the end of last year’s CHA season that Eagles fans will long remember. After all, it was he who set up Joe Tallari for the OT game winner in a wild 4-3 win over Bemidji State in the league title game. They hope for a repeat this season, and a third straight NCAA appearance.
We head back to Omaha for our next player, the Mavericks’ Bill Thomas. A 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward from Pittsburgh, Thomas entered the week tied for 14th in NCAA scoring with none other than BC’s Patrick Eaves, both having 16-23–39.
“We expected him to make an impact, but not like he’s done so far,” said Kemp. “He is just so smooth, and he looks like he’s hardly moving, but when we do speed tests, he’s always at the top. He looks effortless when he skates. He has great hand eye coordination also, comes up with pucks you’d never expect.”
Thomas has 12 multi-point games this season, and points in 23 of the 32 games he’s played. Early in the season, he ripped off a nine game point streak, which included three point nights at Michigan State and against Ohio State.
“When we recruited him, we felt he was a scorer. Now he’s become more of a complete player. He’s a playmaker and a shooter, and good at both,” said Kemp.
The ECACHL certainly hasn’t been unheard of this season, but in upstate New York we find our next little gem in St. Lawrence forward T.J. Treveylan. He is tied with Thomas for 14th in scoring with 21-18–39 in 32 games for the Saints. Playing on a line with John Zeiler and Stace Page, T.J. rang up 7-6–13 to help the Saints to a 6-1 streak recently.
The 5-10, 170-pound sniper has 14 multi-point games this season, and recorded hat tricks in home games against Lake Superior and Princeton. He had two goals and two assists last weekend, and enters this weekend with eight points in his last six games.
Bruce Mulherin of Alabama-Huntsville and his teammate Jared Ross both make this list, as they have been dominant forces on the Chargers’ attack this season. Mulherin, a junior center, and Ross, a senior forward, are tied for fourth in CHA scoring entering the weekend.
These two see a lot of ice time together, and their statistics show how well they work together on ice. Eight of the goals Ross has scored (of his 19) were set up by Mulherin. Conversely, Ross has set up Mulherin for 10 of his 23 markers. They have combined to set up four others together.
Ross has 10 multi point games this season, and has twice posted a four-point night. Perhaps his biggest offensive night was his hat trick on January 15th at Lake Superior. He had an eight game point streak earlier in the season, registering 17 points in that span and at least one goal in the fist six games of the streak. He was blanked last game vs. Bemidji State, snapping a five-game point streak.
Mulherin has cooled over his last three, but we’ll cut him some slack. He opened the season with points in nine of ten games, and two weeks ago had a six-point weekend at Niagara, including a season-high four points in one of those games. He has 12 multiple-point games, and two hat tricks on the season.
His 14 goals entering the weekend tie him with (ready for this) Marty Sertich and Ryan Potulny, which is pretty darn cool. A great penalty-killer, he is tied for first in the nation in shorthanded goals with 4.
The first defenseman to make the list is Miami junior blueliner Andy Greene. A terrific playmaker both at even strength and on the power play, his 26 assists have him tied for seventh in the NCAA. Lately, he must be using extra eyes as he has a three-assist effort two weeks ago, and a three-assist game last weekend. Add two goals to that total from the game on Feb. 12th against Lake Superior, and it gave him a career-high five-point night.
For a defenseman, he has impressively recorded points in 19 of the 34 games he’s played in. The 5-10, 185-pound Michigan native came to the Redhawks off an impressive career with the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors organization.
Upstate New York has earned a return trip for us, as we check in on another Purple Eagle, Ryan Gale. This 5-11, 185-pound native of nearby St. Catherine’s, Ontario, is tied for eighth place in NCAA goal scoring with 19 in 31 games.
On 12 of those 19, you’ll find teammate Barrett Ehgoetz with an assist, showing chemistry on ice like the days of the French Connection line in Buffalo in the mid 1970s. Gale has returned the favor to Ehgoetz on five occasions, and the two dynamic players have combined to set another four.
Gale has eight multi-point games, and five multi-goal games. A consistent contributor offensively, he has two point streaks of five games, and an eight-game streak this season. Overall, he has points in 23 of 31 games, his best being a 2-2=4 effort on December 11th at Bemidji State.
“He’s a very thorough player that executes systems very well,” said his coach Dave Burkholder. “Great penalty killer and he has established himself as on of the best scorers in college hockey.”
Two seasons ago, Ferris State won the CCHA regular season championship and one of their key players was then-sophomore forward Jeff Legue.
“Jeff is an extremely quick player with excellent hands and vision on the ice. He is one of the rare players who is equally adept at scoring goals and being a play maker,” said head coach Bob Daniels, who recently recorded his 200th career win. He is an excellent two way player as evidenced by him leading our team in plus minus, and also being on our top penalty-killing unit.”
Legue’s 19 goals have him in an eighth place tie in NCAA goal scoring entering the weekend. The 5-10, 180-pound native of Cornwall, Ont., (have you noticed that almost every player on this list is between 5-8 and 5-10 and about 175-185 pounds?) is a great faceoff guy and a solid team leader for the Bulldogs.
He enters the weekend on a seven-game point streak (nine points in that span) and has nine multi-point games this season.
“He is a difficult player to check because he has speed and good anticipation of the play, and believe me, every team tries” said Daniels. “He’s a predator type player. At times he’ll lay back unnoticed until the other team makes a mistake and then uses his speed and quickness to capitalize on their mistake.”
Lastly, I’ll mention Jordan Hendry of Alaska-Fairbanks. A great defenseman who was raved about by former coach Guy Gadowsky and current coach Tavis MacMillan, Hendry is a solid two-way defenseman who has to be the best defenseman in the NCAA that doesn’t appear on the national radar. File this name away, as he’ll be back for his senior season next year.
Dave Starman serves as an analyst on CSTV Friday Night Hockey. Starman has coached professionally and in the amateur ranks and is currently the head scout in the Northeast for the USHL’s defending champion Waterloo Black Hawks.