Semifinalists for the Joe Concannon Award, given annually to New England’s best American-born Division II/III college hockey player, have been announced by Gridiron Club of Greater Boston president Ken Eldridge.
Two Concannon Award semifinalists from last season head the field of nominees. Both are forwards and captains of their respective teams. Trinity senior Joseph Ori (Niles, Ill.) has posted nine goals and 22 assists in leading the Bantams to the top spot in the NESCAC. Curry’s Brian Doherty (Franklin, Mass.), captain of the Colonels for four seasons, has paced his team to the top of the ECAC Northeast, collecting 13 goals and a first-in-the-nation 32 assists.
The NESCAC has a total of six Concannon Award candidates, including three other outstanding forwards and two all-around defensemen. Amherst senior captain Beau Kretzman (Edina, Minn.) leads the Lord Jeffs in scoring with 15 goals and 23 assists. Junior power forward Cameron Finch (Acton, Mass.) leads Trinity in goals, scoring 17 to go along with his 14 assists to date. Finch’s four shorthanded goals tie him for second nationally in that category. Junior Adam Dann (Burlington, Vt.) currently leads the Bowdoin Polar Bears in scoring with 11 goals and 12 assists.
On defense, Colby senior Patrick Walsh (Easton, Conn.) has been a strong all-around contributor to the White Mules’ excellent season. Walsh has collected nine goals and 13 assists while demonstrating great leadership on the ice. For 2004 national champion Middlebury, senior defenseman Brian Phinney (Ripton, Vt.) has four goals and 11 assists to complement his superb defensive performance for the Panthers.
From the ECAC East, senior goaltender Jim Merola (North [nl]Providence, R.I.) is one of two Division II players on the list of candidates. A four-year starter for St. Anselm, Merola has played in 76 games during his career. This year he has a 10-7-1 record and a 3.08 goals-against average. Leading the way for Southern Maine is senior Jon Lounsbury (Winthrop, Mass.) The defenseman and two-time USM captain has made a major offensive contribution, chalking up six goals and 14 assists. Also playing a prominent role from the blue line is Babson junior Tom Sullivan (Pembroke, Mass.), who has combined a strong physical game with solid offensive numbers that include eight goals and 16 assists.
Rounding out the list of semifinalists are two outstanding offensive performers and one high-scoring defenseman from the ECAC Northeast. UMass-Dartmouth junior forward Eric Frank (Waltham, Mass.) leads the nation in scoring with 21 goals and 26 assists for 47 points in just 19 games. Senior captain Pat Doherty (Wakefield, Mass.) of Southern [nl]New Hampshire is the other Division II nominee. Doherty has led his the Penmen to a terrific season, scoring 21 goals and adding 15 assists for thirty-six points. With 11 goals and 17 assists, senior defenseman Geno Binda (South Boston, Mass.) has had a stellar season for the Salve Regina Seahawks. Binda is currently third in the nation for points-per-game by a defenseman.
“Without question, there has been some outstanding hockey played at the D-II and D-III levels this season, and we have seen some truly outstanding performers in each of the three leagues in New England,” said Concannon Award committee chairman Tim Costello. “In addition to proving themselves as high quality athletes, each of the nominated players has exemplified sportsmanship and character. The committee’s final decision will not be an easy one. With only a couple of weeks left in the season, we will be very diligent in evaluating the remaining games to determine this year’s winner.”
The 2005 Joe Concannon Award will be presented at the New England Hockey Writers’ Dinner on Wednesday, April 13. Last year’s co-winners were Jim Pancyzkowski from Wesleyan and Cattaraugus, N.Y. and Michael O’Sullivan from Curry and Dorchester, Mass.
The Gridiron Club established the Joe Concannon Award in 2001 to honor Concannon, a lifelong devotee of college hockey, former member of the Walter Brown Award Selection Committee and, as a journalist, a staunch advocate for the amateur athletes he knew and covered. A native of Litchfield, Conn., Joe graduated from Boston University in 1961. He served as sports information director at Holy Cross before joining the Boston Globe in the late 1960’s to cover college sports. Concannon declined frequent invitations by his editors to write about Boston’s major professional sports teams, preferring to concentrate on the colleges, distance running and golf. He wrote the book Marathoning with Bill Rodgers and established the highly successful Litchfield Road Race in his hometown. Concannon was a world traveler and was especially proud of his Irish heritage, frequently sojourning to the Emerald Isle. He passed away in 2000.