Lessard, Danis, Parise In Hobey Hat Trick

Two players that recently went pro, including one that left early, plus one player still playing are the three Hobey Hat Trick finalists for the 2004 Hobey Baker Award.

The three finalists are: Minnesota-Duluth forward Junior Lessard, the nation’s leading scorer, will lead his team into the Frozen Four, starting next Thursday with the Bulldogs’ semifinal game against Denver (noon, ET); Zach Parise, third in the nation in scoring but tops in points per game, recently left North Dakota after two seasons to sign with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils; and Brown goalie Yann Danis, second in the nation with a .942 save percentage, he recently wrapped up his four-year career and signed with the Montreal Canadiens, making his pro debut with Hamilton of the AHL and recording a shutout.

The three will be invited to the ceremony, Friday, April 9, 2:30 p.m. (ET) at Boston’s Faneuil Hall. The announcement will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Net.

Yann Danis

Brown – Senior – Goalie
Saint Jerome, Quebec

Danis was only the second player in ECAC history to be honored as Player of the Year and receive the Ken Dryden Award as the league’s best netminder in the same season. The other was Cornell’s Dave LeNeveu, who was also a Hobey finalist last season. Along with these honors he was also voted to the ECAC First Team and named to the First Team All-Ivy League.

Danis tied the school career win mark of 43 set by Kevin McCabe (1977). He holds ECAC records for season save percentage (.948) and career shutouts (13). Danis also set the Brown career save percentage record (.930), which is second to Ken Dryden in NCAA history; and he set the Brown career record goals against average (2.20).

This year, Danis helped Brown win its first Ivy championship since 1995.

Junior Lessard

Minnesota-Duluth – Senior – Forward
St. Joseph deBeauce, Quebec

Lessard, the team’s alternate captain, became the seventh Bulldog to be named a Hobey Baker finalist. Lessard came away with top honors this year at the WCHA banquet by securing a spot on the All-WCHA First Team, and winning the WCHA Player of the Year for 2003-04.

Lessard helped the Bulldogs advance to the Frozen Four for the first time in 19 years. He leads the nation with 61 points and 30 goals. The last Bulldog to accomplish this was 1994 Hobey Baker Award winner Chris Marinucci. He also ranks tied for second in the NCAA in power-play goals with 12. Lessard ranks fourth in the NCAA in points per game at 1.46. His exploits helped UMD to its highest WCHA finish (second) and best regular-season record (23-10-4) in 11 years. Not withstanding his scoring ability, he has a plus-21 plus- minus rating.

Zach Parise

North Dakota – Sophomore – Forward
Faribault, Minn.

Parise is the only returning Hobey Baker finalist in this year’s crop, though he was not a Hobey Hat Trick finalist last year. He was named All-WCHA First Team and the All-WCHA Academic Team. He ranks third in the NCAA in total points with 55, second with an average of 1.49 points per game, and third in assists with 32.

Parise took time off this season to compete on Team USA in the 2004 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, where he was named the Tournament MVP after leading the tournament in scoring.

Parise was selected 17th overall in last June’s NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils, and on March 29 he signed a three-year NHL contract. Parise’s father, J.P, played 13 seasons in the NHL.