I was…I was…I was not exactly right.
After a very strong 9 of 10 performance picking the Hobey Baker finalists, I went down in flames picking the Hobey Hat Trick. Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion was my one correct pick, as New Hampshire forward Bobby Butler and Maine forward Gustav Nyquist rounded out the group of three finalists, not my choices of Denver’s Marc Cheverie and Geoffrion’s Wisconsin teammate, Brendan Smith.
Wow…how did I get this wrong?
For starters, I had Smith, not Geoffrion, pegged as Wisconsin’s main Hobey candidate for a long time. I was taken in back in mid-season, when Geoffrion was among the nation’s top 10 scorers as a defenseman, and I continued to stick with him even as the scoring numbers came back down to Earth. I did start to sense that he wasn’t about to win it this past weekend, but I did think he would make the Hat Trick.
As for Cheverie, I really didn’t think he played badly in Denver’s loss to RIT, and his importance to Denver’s McNaughton Cup-winning season is unquestioned. Of course, Denver’s postseason was uninspiring, to say the least, and that probably made a difference, the losses at the WCHA Final Five in particular.
Now, I thought Nyquist would still be on the radar for the Hat Trick despite being a spectator this weekend, but I thought that the heroics of Butler against Cornell and Geoffrion against Vermont and St. Cloud would be the end for him. Those performances did wind up having an impact, but not in the way that I thought. Finishing the season as the nation’s leading scorer doesn’t always mean a great deal – just ask Bryan Leitch or Ryan Potulny – but Nyquist was clearly the driving force behind a Maine team that was an overtime goal away from a Hockey East title and a return to the NCAA tournament after a couple of lean years.
Butler, meanwhile, finished the season as the nation’s leading goal-scorer, and it’s as I have been known to say: Hobey likes goals. The fact that he’s already collected Hockey East Player of the Year honors and the Walter Brown Award speaks well to how respected he is in New England, and in retrospect, it was probably unwise on my part to think that a scoreless night in the loss to RIT would be enough to knock him out of the competition. I told some UNH fans on the morning of the East Regional final that I thought Butler had played his way into the Hat Trick, and I really should have stuck with it.
But no use crying over spilt milk now. The question now is, which player got the most votes? After all, the voting’s done, and we know that these three are the top three vote-getters. My feeling is that it’ll be Geoffrion on top. He’s the one who’s still playing, and he’s every bit as much a goal-scorer as Butler. I also have a feeling that with two Hockey East players in the top three, they may have split regional votes with one another, while Geoffrion seems to have gotten the lion’s share of the votes in the west. Of course, that assumes he came in first. If he didn’t , then it means that the four WCHA players took votes from one another, and one of the Hockey East boys, probably Butler wins it.
But that’s not what I think happens. I think Geoffrion wins, and we’ll find out a week from Friday.