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College Hockey:
Getting in under the wire

Sometime Thursday, the Hobey Hat Trick will be announced, which means that I really should have posted my predictions some time ago.

What can I say? I’ve been busy.

First, I’ll look back at my finalist predictions, which saw me go 7 for 10, which is pretty much par for the course. The three I had wrong were Paul Zanette, Gustav Nyquist and Jack Connolly, where I had Carl Hagelin, Stephane Da Costa and Keith Kinkaid.

I doubted that Connolly would stand out enough from his two outstanding linemates, Justin Fontaine and Mike “No Relation” Connolly, which was clearly a mistake. That’s probably the best line in the whole country, and with Jack Connolly being the setup man, it’s natural that he should be a selection. I think I have a better appreciation of that having watched Jack and his linemates played this past weekend in Bridgeport.

With Zanette, I thought that Niagara’s season ending before the finalists were selected would be a major hamper. Clearly I was wrong, as Zanette has a great overall profile for a Hobey Candidate, especially those 29 goals. Remember: “Hobey Likes Goals.”

Of course, that thinking had me overlooking Nyquist for a long way, especially with Maine really on the periphery of the NCAA tournament picture for much of the season. Still, as a returning member of the Hobey Hat Trick, a spot among the top 10 scorers in the nation is very hard to ignore, and I should have paid more attention to him.

Now, those are the three I got wrong, so let’s look at the three I’m trying to get right: the Hobey Hat Trick. Two of them are pretty easy to figure out, since they’ve been the two that we’ve been talking about for weeks: Matt Frattin and Andy Miele. Frattin was relatively quiet over the weekend, but in this case, “relatively” means, “one goal and two assists while the team scored 12 goals overall.” Miele, meanwhile, was a minus-2 in the RedHawks’ 3-1 loss to New Hampshire, not a great showing. On the other hand, Miele did have two goals and two assists against Notre Dame in the CCHA semifinals and a goal and an assist against Western Michigan to win the Mason Cup, bringing home the first playoff title in Miami history.

Well, that’s the easy part. There’s eight more guys for one more spot, so I have some narrowing down to do.

My instinct is to start by eliminating the guys who weren’t playing this past wekeend: Nyquist, Zanette and Justin Schultz. Of course, that thinking burned me with Nyquist last year, and I’ve got a nagging feeling about Schultz. Still, I don’t see a non-tournament player in this Hat Trick. That leaves five players for one spot: Carter Camper, Chase Polacek, Cam Atkinson, Paul Thompson, and Connolly.

Looking at the weekend results, I feel pretty strong eliminating Polacek. The way RPI was demolished by North Dakota in the Midwest hurts his case. He deserves credit for coming back in his senior year and taking RPI to the tournament, but I’m having trouble seeing him in the Hat Trick.

The way Camper and Miele were simultaneously promoted for the Hobey all year, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the two RedHawks sitting side-by-side next Friday, a la Marty Sertich and Brett Sterling. However, I’m not sure if that necessarily works after Miami got knocked off by UNH in the Northeast Regional semifinal. One member of the Hat Trick, certainly, but not two.

The player whose Hobey stock went up the most this past weekend  is Jack Connolly, and there’s certainly a feeling that goes with a Duluth kid leading Minnesota Duluth to the Frozen Four, playing closer to campus than any Frozen Four team since Wisconsin in 2006. There’s also the matter of him being the glue on the top line in the country. I’ve got a good feeling about him, but I can’t shake one nagging thought: Where’s the east?

Since I’ve been tracking the Hobey race, there’s always been an eastern conference represented: Cornell’s David McKee in 2005, BC’s Chris Collins in 2006, Air Force’s Eric Ehn in 2007 (Atlantic Hockey!), BC’s Nathan Gerbe in 2008, the entire 2009 Hat Trick (Matt Gilroy, Brad Thiessen and Colin Wilson) and Nyquist and Bobby Butler in 2010. That’s an argument for predicting that Paul Thompson or Cam Atkinson will be the third member of the Hat Trick.

Thompson might seem the safer choice there, by virtue of being the Hockey East Player of the Year, although Atkinson does have more goals, the Hockey East Championship, and last year’s NCAA title to his credit (and don’t think that a championship in your past doesn’t mean something).

So, there’s a lot of different ways one could go about this, but this is how I’m seeing it.

The 2011 Hobey Hat Trick will be:

Matt Frattin, SR, F, North Dakota
Andy Miele, SR, F, Miami
Jack Connolly, JR, F, Minnesota Duluth.

Yeah, that’s right, I’m going there. All-Western Hat Trick. If it can happen in the east, then why not in the west?

Watch, now, I’ll turn around and be wrong. But at least I won’t be accused of East Coast Bias.

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  • LetsKeepThingsFair

    If you’re going to mention what Miele did in the CCHA tournament, you should also point out what Matt Frattin did in the WCHA tournament. He scored the game winner with under 5 minutes to play against Colorado College and then buried the game winner in double OT vs. Denver. I mean, if you’re going to compare apples to apples you can’t really mention Frattin’s 3 point effort in their 2 wins on the national stage vs. Miele’s performance against his CCHA Foes. Frattin has scored 3 goals and 3 assists equaling 6 points in 4 elimination games. Miele had 3 and 3 vs. Notre Dame and W. Michigan in their conference tournament and was skunked vs. UNH. Frattin has a game at hand but he’s not on the ice with another Hobey Hopeful. Over that 4 game stretch it should be noted that 2 of those games were against the #7 ranked team in the tournament (DU), the 14th seed (CC) and the 15th seed (RPI). Miele scored his points against the 10th and 11th seeds (Western/Notre Dame) while being shut out and being -2 vs. the 13th seed (UNH).

    • Hockey fan

      I honestly don’t think was his intention. I think he used that to strengthen the argument for putting Miele there, but did not feel like Fratting needed that due to his 3-point weekend in the regional, as well as his 36 goals and upcoming participation in the Frozen Four.

      I agree with the Hat Trick and will say that if there’s an Eastern player there, it will be Atkinson. Heck of a player.

      • LetsKeepThingsFair

        I agree with you there. Atkinson is definitely a stud.

  • Linda

    It certainly would be appropriate to have an all-Western Hobey Hat Trick to go along with the all-Western Frozen Four. And I’m from the East Coast. ;)

  • nodak hockey fanatic

    I can’t argue with that hat trick, although I agree with the previous poster, Atkinson is an animal, ever since I saw his dominating performance in the NCAAs last year, I’ve been a believer. Its tough to argue with Miele’s stats, but Frattin is a manchild!! He’s a beast, and THE best player in college hockey (obvious bias, but true nontheless). Plus leads the nation in goals, and as east coast Olshansky stated, Hobey loves goals. Go Sioux, and go Frats!!! Sioux yeah yeah.

  • Christopher Burns

    The problem with Atkinson now for winning it, he signed pro immediately after BC’s loss.

    • collegehockeyfan

      I agree with this 100%. The Hobey is a prestigious College Hockey award and I believe it should go to someone who wants to be at the college level and can represent college hockey the way it should be, him bolting hurt his chances EXTREMELY.

      • Lennyak1

        Hayes or Atkinson? Who went Pro?

    • Lennyak1

      Isn’t it Jimmy Hayes that went Pro?

      • After Further Review

        Yup, Jimmy Hayes and Atkinson.

  • SiouxFanInOronoMaine

    I think Frattin should win the hobey for sure. I saw him play 15 times this winter and he proved he should win it. There was no better player in college hockey this year and a lot of credit should be given to his two linemates for what he did. Malone and Trupp helped Frattin alot in what he was able to prove this year. Go Sioux!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Suture1

      Nice point Sioux Fan in Maine. I have thought this all along and nobody has really stated the obvious. The best thing abot this line? You never, ever hear any of them talk about themselves. They always give credit to their linemates and teammates. Frattin often speaks of the team’s winning and how he is looking for one thing only…the national championship. Sometimes you hear individual athletes SAY these things but it looks feigned. With Frattin you really do feel like he is sincere and would give up the Hobey in a second to have his team win a championship. Nice point Maine….

  • Grizzly

    Can someone please explain why Frattin should NOT win the Hobey Baker? Best player, on the best team in the country, with the #1 offense, Leading goal scorer in NCAA, 2nd in points, comes up BIG time in BIG situations (Game winner vs CC, 2ot winner vs Denver, one goal and 2 assists this weekend)…whats his +/-??? THe only knock on Frattin is the arrests and getting kicked off the team…but to hear Hakstol tell the story, and to hear how he came back and is doing things the right way now is more of a plus than a minus in my book…

    • achybreaky

      You are right! There is no reason that he should not win, but he is not worried about winning the Hobey Baker. He wants to raise #8 at the Ralph.

    • Michaelleepeterson

      I, for one, am hoping that Frattin is this year’s Hobey winner and believe he deserves it as evidenced by his leadership, professionalism, work ethic, stats, and more. But since you asked, I thought I’d share some reasons as to why I think people might be hesitant in awarding him the prize. For one his Secondlystory can either help or hinder, some of the voters/committee may say that the Hobey winner should have a clean record throughout his college years; although we can see how the turn around has been a benefit to his case of being this year’s Hobey. Secondly, some may say that his goal total was artficially boosted by playing Michigan Tech multiple times this season. Hobey likes goals, but that team was terrible… and that’s about it… Oh, there is that other issue relating to the NCAA’s aversion to UND’s logo…

      • achybreaky

        I thought the Hobey Baker was for the best player of the year. Im not sure exactly, but I know he has alot more points vs. TUC than most.

      • Jdorf40

        I’ve actually thought about the whole logo issue and how it might affect not only the team, but Frattin individually. I think the NCAA is dirty enough to scheme something up, but I would hope that if he doesn’t win it, it’s not because of something as irrelevant as that. As for the Tech team being the biggest victim of Frattin…I agree that they are easily the worst team in the WCHA. But after his performances over the last 4 games and what he did in the Final 5 tourney…that to me sort of erased that ideology. Nobody has been more clutch than Matt Frattin in the last 3 weeks.

  • Callin’ a Spade a Spade

    The only problem I have with the article is the statement that the Connolly line is the best in the nation. They are very good, but I think the Frattin, Malone, Trupp line has shown they are the best over the course of the season, and they dominated the Connelly line this year head to head.

    • guest

      As a Sioux fan watching UMD play, you know when the top line from UMD is out there. For two years, all three of these guys have been ranked up there for the best players, as individuals and a group. The “Pony Express” line as been rolling as of late this season, but I know, when UMD comes to UND, every person in the Ralph gets a little scared when those three are on the ice. I know I do.

  • guest

    hobey also likes character, frattin doesnt have a great track record of that

    • achybreaky

      Hobey has been dead for almost 100 years

      • Sioux Fan

        Read Hobey’s outstanding life and then comment. A true American Hero! Love him

    • Sara

      yes he does. if you paid more attention, you’d know that.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2C2DDGFAQQ66J7HXRDU3FP7XA4 Joe

      ASSAULT
      Thomas Atkinson, 50, and his two sons Cam Atkinson, 19, and Tommy Atkinson, 20, were arrested Aug. 19 and charged with breach of peace. According to police, the senior Atkinson was driving and attempting to make a left-hand turn from Sheephill Road onto East Putnam Avenue when he was cut off by three teens on bicycles. Atkinson reportedly began exchanging profanities with one of the teens as they all rode onto East Putnam Avenue. When they all reached the McDonald’s parking lot in Riverside, Atkinson reportedly contacted his sons, Cam and Tommy, and they responded to the scene to confront the teens. The two younger Atkinsons allegedly began kicking and punching the boy who had gotten into the argument with their father, injuring the boy’s forehead. Cam and Tommy Atkinson were also charged with third degree assault. The men were released on promises to appear and are due in court Aug. 27.

  • achybreaky

    1 thing I need to ask is: what are all these eastern writers going to do since they obviously know nothing about what college hockey is all about?

  • achybreaky

    OK do not listen to most of my posts because I am a little drunk. K thank you!

  • kd

    Put me in the camp that says Frattin is a great player but does not deserve the Hobey due to his past behavior.

    • Jdorf40

      It’s not a lock, but I would think that there are more people who are willing to say that you shouldn’t hold a mistake that a 20 year old kid makes against him for the rest of his life. I mean, unless of course you’re perfect yourself kd. If you are, you’re the first perfect person I’ve ever heard of. Despite what people still want to think about Obama.

      • After Further Review

        I still think Frattin will win it, but it will be much closer due to his past. Hobey was very much a class act and that is a big part of how the Hobey is awarded. It’s too bad Atkinson went pro, I think he would have had a great shot at it.

        • WI SIoux Fan

          I think a lot has to be said of the fact that Frattin could have left for the NHL and instead got his life straightened out and got back to do something special. That should count as much as his past transgressions IMO.

          • After Further Review

            I do agree with you, I just think that they will look hard at what he has done in the past. I am taking nothing away from Frattin and what he has done to better himself, just pointing out that his past will have some impact on his chances. I still believe he will win it anyways.

    • SiouxNY

      There’s no doubt that Frattin’s previous incidents should be part of the Hobey consideration. I’m a Sioux fan, but I won’t go so far as to say that his choice to come back to UND (without scholarship) and again try out for the team makes up for those offenses. I think it minimizes their effect, but overall, an arrest in the past should be viewed as a bad thing.

      That said, character is not the only criterion for Hobey voting. Frattin’s numbers speak for themselves. The only thing giving Miele an edge is total points, but Miami’s strength of schedule was substantially lower than UND’s. If the schedules were reversed, I believe Frattin would have scored even more goals, and surpassed Miele in points. Moreover, here is a list of the leading goal scorers vs. TUC (a month old, but I don’t have time to compile updated stats now)

      1. Matt Frattin (UND), 27
      2. Jason Zucker (DU), 20
      3. Mike Connolly (UMD), 18
      4. Jason Gregoire (UND), 17
      5. Tyler Johnson (CC), 16

      Note that Miele and Atkinson are not in the top 5 of that list.
      I think Frattin will get the award, and deservedly so, because his stats vs. TUC are dramatically better than the other nominees.

      • thethunder

        “but Miami’s strength of schedule was substantially lower than UND’s”

        Are you kidding me! The ccha is stacked with programs that consistantly win and qualify to the frozen for. You’re obviously a fan of UND. Frattin’s great but his character is the opposite (he won’t win hobey). You need to youtube mieles highlights and get a better look hoss.

        • Sioux Fan

          Ya and look and Fratts highlights from the WCHA Final Five against Denver and CC> who do you play again? Ohhhh thats right western, northern michagan to take down the ccha. Im only kidding because I know thats a solid conference but 47 assists does not float my boat! Hobey loves goals and finding the back of the net is the best! Coming from a goalie that says alot

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2C2DDGFAQQ66J7HXRDU3FP7XA4 Joe

          It’s easy to have highlight reel goals against crappy teams..

  • Suture1

    OMG, you people are missing the ONE THING that separates Frattin from anyone else on the list!! You can talk about goals, best lines and whatever else you want. Yes, I think the Frattin line is superior to the Connelly line (for those of us who watch the WCHA we know what has happened through the year when these teams have met). Yes, Frattin’s off ice issues should be a positive and not a negative….since when do we penalize 18 and 19 year old kids for making mistakes…..especially after they turn their lives around and have done what Frattin has done? But, the one thing Frattin has over anyone else that I have seen play is his DEFENSIVE play. Frattin is a larger version of TJ Oshie and can flat out punish people with his defensive game. I have seen at least 3 times where Frattin has saved a goal by her ferocious back checking. Ask Mr. Wehr from our friendly neighbors to the east if Frattin can put a lick on (on a side note I feel sorry for that kid…two years in a row in Wehr corner…Ouch!). You add this to his offensive heroics and there is simply no other choice. Anyway, don’t fret y’all….I spoke to Mr. Baker and he told me it’s Frattin all the way….:) Ok, everybody….let’s get psyched for April 7th……Sioux are going to make Meeechagin’s hockey team look a lot like their football team….:) Oh, sorry, did I piss anyone off…my bad…:)

    • SiouxS*ck

      “Yes, Frattin’s off ice issues should be a positive and not a negative…”

      Seriously? That has got to be one of the most stupid comments I have read in a long time. Getting arrested multiple times is never a positive.

      • Sara

        buddy…. you gave away your obvious bias with your screen name here. Therefore anything you think is now irrelevant.

        • Lawn Mower Thrower for Hobey

          And your screen name says you’re a girl, making anything you know now irrelevant as well.

          • Sioux Fan

            U mow lawns which makes your comments irrelevent as well dumb ace

      • HE

        Okay, you’re dumb.

    • UMDfan

      See here’s where you’re wrong. First off, the “pony express” or whatever that line is called is good, I will give you that, but to compare them to the line from UMD is just ridiculous. Especially when you’re only argument for it is that your guys played better than our guys head to head. That isn’t on the line, it’s on the defense, and as a UMD fan, I WILL say that UND’s defense is better than UMD’s. Also, UMD rolls one line strong, a second line fairly strong, and the other two pretty weak. UND rolls 4 strong lines. A lot easier for a defense to defend one line than four. If Mike Connolly would have gotten the nod instead of Jack (which is not saying Jack isn’t deserving) I think we’d have a real contest on our hands. Unfortunately, he didn’t, and it appears that Frattin could run away with it, even with him being a lawn mower throwing do*che.

      • hockeyfan2145

        yea umd’s first line really is better. like that first game in umd’s new rink, right?
        unds first line gives them clutch goals. gw vs cc, double ot gw vs du. the pony express brings a physical element with malone, and frattin. they can all finish, but frattin obviously being the top finisher, and then they have trupp for the set up man. who can also score. not to mention frattin’s +/- is 3rd in the nation.

      • Sioux Fan

        PleASE keep your comments to the discusion at hand and quit throwing your TRASH in the lake please! thank you

  • CG

    I have not read anywhere that you shouldnt win the Hobey because of something foolish you did the previous season. Like some have said a mistake or two from a 18-19 yr old college kid. Really… anyone who thinks Frattin shouldnt get this award for his character should stick their heads back in the snowbank. This kid has shown more character than any kid nominated for it. Who else has been dismissed from their team only to go back home and start thinking long and hard about the rest of his life and completely turning the page. To get back to where he stands on the team is amazing. A great feat to win the award but for anyone who thinks he shouldnt get it, better have better reasons than for something other than his character. Also did I mention he had the chance to sign his pro contract and move to the next level but he decided he wanted to go back to UND and go for a NCAA title instead. Go move Fratts. And GO SIOUX.

    • Sioux Fan

      I like your style man! Very well said there

  • SiouxInMinny

    Make it simple. You are a college coach and there is a 2-team college all-star game to be played. You are the coach of the team that gets first pick. Who do you pick? The answer to that question will also tell you who the Hobey Baker winner should be.

  • Jim

    Does anyone also remember the showing of UMD in the WCHA tourny? They got a lay up, and had to beat not one but two teams that could not have been easier. Yale overrated all year and showed it to UMD.

  • FrattinForHobey

    Atkinson just announced he’s one of the Hobey Hattrick on his Twitter. Classy.

    • Guest

      That is not cool. I wonder if it will cost him. The hat trick isn’t supposed to be announced until tomorrow. I wonder if they might punish him for posting that.

  • HockeyHockeyHockey

    What most people don’t (nodak fans) don’t understand is a major component of the award is character. Frattin has screwed up on multiple occasions. Yes he returned for his final year and did the honorable thing. However, There are going to be two other players who haven’t messed up to begin with.

    Him winning would send a terrible message to other players. That message being: “Its okay to get in trouble, to get dui’s, to be removed from the team; as long as you do the right thing in the end.” That is not okay IMO

    • Anonymous

      Are you serious? Someone recovers from a slip up and builds from – it shows character, you dont just toss out all he has done from something that happened last year. I say it shows that people can come back from mistakes and use them as learning lesssions. Good luck on your perfect life.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2C2DDGFAQQ66J7HXRDU3FP7XA4 Joe

      ASSAULT
      Thomas Atkinson, 50, and his two sons Cam Atkinson, 19, and Tommy Atkinson, 20, were arrested Aug. 19 and charged with breach of peace. According to police, the senior Atkinson was driving and attempting to make a left-hand turn from Sheephill Road onto East Putnam Avenue when he was cut off by three teens on bicycles. Atkinson reportedly began exchanging profanities with one of the teens as they all rode onto East Putnam Avenue. When they all reached the McDonald’s parking lot in Riverside, Atkinson reportedly contacted his sons, Cam and Tommy, and they responded to the scene to confront the teens. The two younger Atkinsons allegedly began kicking and punching the boy who had gotten into the argument with their father, injuring the boy’s forehead. Cam and Tommy Atkinson were also charged with third degree assault. The men were released on promises to appear and are due in court Aug. 27.

      • After Further Review

        I guess it’s Miele then…

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2C2DDGFAQQ66J7HXRDU3FP7XA4 Joe

      Looks like you don’t know what the H you’re talking about.

  • Dwvandy

    Off ice character counts….
    Societal and team violations reflect poor character issues.