This Week in Atlantic Hockey: Jan. 17, 2008

Vote for Hobey — Fact and Fiction

For the past several seasons, the Hobey Baker Foundation has run a promotion called “Vote for Hobey,” where the fans can cast ballots for their favorite candidate. It’s a good idea that drives traffic to the Hobey Baker website, drawing attention to the award (and the merchandise).

There is some, albeit very small, legitimacy to the fan voting, as the winner will receive 1% of the votes in the real nominating process, where each of the Division I coaches submits a ballot with three players from his own conference plus three players from anywhere in the nation.

That is the legitimate process, which is a totally different process than the one used for compiling the players on the Vote for Hobey ballot. And this year, more than any other, there’s been controversy over how that list was compiled.

“In past years, we solicited input from the press and the leagues,” said Scott Pollack, director of communications for the Hobey Baker foundation. “But we had schools complaining about why such and such a player wasn’t on the ballot.”

So this year, schools were asked to self-nominate up to three players. In other words, the Vote for Hobey list comes right from the schools with no vetting, no review. So you have cases of schools submitting a list of players, and then issuing a press release about how their guys have been nominated for the Hobey Baker Award. And they were nominated … by the schools themselves. But not for the Hobey Baker itself — just for the Vote for Hobey promotion. This has caused confusion for fans, media and even some SIDs.

Schools around the nation took various approaches to how they selected their players. Many submitted three names simply because they could. Others submitted only players they thought had a legitimate shot at the award (for example, Michigan appears to be pushing Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik and not Billy Sauer). Some schools chose not to play at all.

Atlantic Hockey had that mixture of approaches. Here are the AHA players on the Vote for Hobey ballot:

AIC: Mike McMillan, Dan Ramirez, Jereme Tendler
Air Force: Eric Ehn
Army: Luke Flicek, Bryce Hollweg, Owen Meyer
Bentley: Joe Calvi, Jaye Judd, Dain Prewitt
Canisius: Kyle Bushee, Josh Heidinger, Dave Kasch
Holy Cross: Dale Reinhardt , Brodie Sheahan, Everett Sheen
Mercyhurst: Ben Cottreau, Matt Lundin
Sacred Heart: Alexandre Parent, Bear Trapp

Connecticut and RIT chose not to nominate any players for Vote for Hobey.

“I’ll be submitting a ballot when the legitimate process begins,” said RIT coach Wayne Wilson. “It’s too early to tell right now who those candidates will be.”

In the “real” voting, coaches cannot vote for their own players, as opposed, of course, to the Vote for Hobey, where coaches presumably only vote for their own players.

Because of this new process, the ballot for Vote for Hobey is generating more controversy and confusion than ever. Michigan fans, for example, want to know why there are three AHA goalies on the ballot, but not Sauer, who has a GAA almost a full point lower than the top AHA goaltender on the list (Joe Calvi). Is the Hobey committee saying that these goalies are better? Sure looks that way unless you understand the process. Those Michigan fans should take it up with their own school.

The important thing to remember is that just because a player is not on the Vote for Hobey ballot does not mean that he has not been nominated for the award. The legitimate nominating process hasn’t begun yet. And the fan vote will account for barely one-half of a single coach’s ballot.

And the big question for Atlantic Hockey fans is this: does the AHA have a legitimate Hobey candidate this season? Last year, Eric Ehn could not be ignored because of the numbers he put up, plus he had the intangibles that appeal to coaches and the selection committee.

This season, Ehn has 24 points to date. Last year at this time he had 43. Ehn is 37th nationally in points per game (1.09). RIT’s Simon Lambert is the top AHA player in this category (1.19; 21st place).

Mercyhurst’s Matt Lundin is the top AHA goaltender in the national rankings for save percentage, in 15th place (.925). Andrew Volkening of Air Force is 29th in GAA nationally (2.43), tops among AHA goaltenders.

So statistics-wise, I’m not seeing an AHA player as a finalist. But there’s still plenty of hockey to play.

Neither Lambert nor Volkening are on the Vote for Hobey ballot. But go to and vote. Have fun. But remember — that’s all it is.

Weekly Awards

Player of the Week for January 14, 2008:
Brodie Sheahan — Holy Cross

The sophomore forward had a five point week to help the Crusaders to a split with Bentley, tallying three assists in a 6-4 loss on Friday and adding a goal and an assist in a 4-2 win on Saturday. Sheahan leads his team in assists with 14 and in points with 21.

Goaltender of the Week for January 14, 2008:
Matt Lundin — Mercyhurst

The junior transfer from Maine stopped all 29 Army shots for his first shutout in a Lakers’ uniform and fourth of his career.

Rookie of the Week for January 14, 2008:
Erik Peterson — Bentley

The freshman from Shorewood, Minn., had a hat trick on Friday, scoring Bentley’s final three goals to lead the Falcons to a 6-4 win over Holy Cross.

Sweet Sweep

Don’t look now, but the Mercyhurst Lakers are starting to make their move. They’ve won five league games in a row, the most consecutive wins since the 2004-2005 season when they won the league title. Last weekend, Mercyhurst swept Army while the rest of the teams in the league failed to pick up four points. Sacred Heart won and tied against AIC, while the other three series ended in splits. That means the Lakers picked up a point on the Pioneers, two on every other team, and four on Army.

“Any time you can get a sweep in this league, you’re thrilled,” said Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin.

Gotkin’s team has been plagued by the injury bug all season, with starting goaltender Matt Lundin missing significant time and Ryan Toomey suffering a season ending injury nine games into the season. And Lundin was again injured on Friday, battling through it to get a 29-save shutout.

“It’s not nearly as serious as last time,” said Gotkin. “He’ll be back. Lundin played great even though he got dinged up. Ryan Zapolski played great for us the next night. He made more saves than Lundin had to (35 in a 4-2 win).”

The Lakers now find themselves all alone in fourth place after starting last weekend tied for sixth. “We have a pretty good team. We just haven’t been able to stay healthy,” said Gotkin. “We haven’t had a healthy lineup since Oct 12.

“Ryan Toomey was going to be a big part of our offensive scheme. Losing him has definitely hurt. We’re trying to get him a redshirt and another senior season.”

I asked Gotkin if his killer nonleague schedule is now paying dividends.

“Those games were too long ago for that,” he said. “We used (games with) Notre Dame and Michigan State for experience in the way that, if we are fortunate enough to make the NCAA tournament, we can say that we’ve been in that environment, in big buildings with 10,000 fans.

“But we did use (last weekend’s series with) Michigan Tech to get ready for Army. I thought we played well in that series, and it carried over.”

Around the League

AIC: Coach Gary Wright won his 250th game behind the Yellow Jackets’ bench on January 8 with a 3-2 win against Holy Cross. AIC has 12 points in league play this season, double what it had at this time last year.

Bentley: The Falcons scored three goals in an 18-second span against Holy Cross last Friday, setting a school record. Goalie Joe Calvi was featured in the “Faces in the Crowd” section of the January 14 issue of Sports Illustrated. The freshman was AHA Rookie of the Month for October and Goalie of the Month for November.

Canisius: The Griffs’ PK is on a roll. Canisius has killed off 40 of its last 41 penalties and has scored three shorthanded goals during that stretch. .

Holy Cross: After an off weekend against RIT, the Crusaders’ power play is back on track, going 4-for-5 against Bentley on Saturday. Holy Cross’ 25.5% success rate is still second in Division I.

RIT: Thanks to Matt Smith’s overtime goal on Saturday, RIT won at Air Force for the first time since 2000 and the first time in the school’s Division I era. Ten of the last 12 games between the two schools have been decided by a goal or less.

Sacred Heart: Junior Bear Trapp had four points last weekend against AIC, putting him over the century mark for career points.