Last week, Gridiron Club of Greater Bostonâ€™s president Al Robichaud announced that 16 NCAA Division III players are semi-finalists for the eighth Joe Concannon Award, presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England playing at the D-II/III level.
The list is comprised of 12 forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, all from D-III institutions. The candidates include six players from NESCAC including three seniors from Colby College. Returning nominee Arthur Fritch is joined by Colby Mules teammates TJ Kelley and Josh Reber, who are first and second in scoring in the NESCAC, respectively. All three players passed the century mark in career scoring for the Mules this season.
The three remaining representatives from the same conference include two team captains whose accomplishments are a big part of their teamâ€™s success. Middlebury senior defenseman Tom Maldonado leads his team in points and is a key piece in the Panthers defensive system.
Bowdoinâ€™s Mike Westerman also leads his team in scoring from his defensive post and has been a catalyst for the Polar Bearâ€™s high scoring offense. Brandon Jackmuff leads the Williams Ephs with 23 points and his seven power-play goals represent over one-third of his teamâ€™s total this season.
From the ECAC East, New England College has a pair of productive pivot men who create problems for any opposing defense. Seniors Mike Carmody and Brian Pouliot have combined for 20 goals and over 50 points in helping the Pilgrims stay near the top of the league standings.
Senior captain John Geverd provides his Babson squad with great leadership as well as unselfish play in all situations as the Beavers look to repeat as conference champions this year. Senior Mike Stevens from the University of Southern Maine has provided great continuity for a young team this season and his 26 points include a team leading three game-winning goals.
Finally, the resurgent UMass-Boston Beacons showcase a freshman scoring leader in Eric Tufman who has demonstrated the ability to play big against the leagueâ€™s very best each and every night.
The final group of nominees all hail from the ECAC Northeast and are key contributors to one of the closest conference races among several teams in many seasons.
The sole goaltender on this yearâ€™s list is senior Devan McConnell from Fitchburg State. McConnell has posted his best numbers this season including a .924 save percentage and 2.27 goals-against average in backstopping the Falcons. Senior forward Matt McGilvray leads Johnson & Wales in scoring and will add clearing the 100 point mark and games played level before the end of the regular season.
Senior Dan Pencinger leads the leagueâ€™s surprising Suffolk Rams on the scoring table and has provided great leadership and toughness as Suffolk battles near the top of the league standings. Nichols College junior forward Anthony Monte is no stranger to this list having been nominated as a freshman. Monteâ€™s averaging two points per game in conference play and has surpassed the 100 point mark for his career in this his junior season.
The final nominee from the conference has made a big splash in transferring as a junior from St, Norbertâ€™s College to Curry College this season. Jeffrey Hazelwood leads both his team and the conference in scoring while leading the Colonels back to the top of the standings heading into the last two weeks of the regular season.
â€œWe seem to say every year that the level of competition and quality of play in all of the New England leagues continues to be a showcase for great hockey. That is most certainly true this year and with a long way to go before playoffs and conference championships are handed out, every team and player is looking to play their very best at the most important part of the season,â€ said Gridiron Club Hockey Awards Committee chairman Tim Costello.
â€œWe believe that this is an exceptionally strong group of semifinalists for the Joe Concannon Award, and we look forward to tracking these players closely for the remainder of this very exciting and competitive season.â€
The Gridiron Club plans to announce the finalists and winner of the eighth Joe Concannon Award in March, before the start of NCAA Frozen Four Tournament play and present the award during the New England Hockey Writers dinner in April.
Past winners of this prestigious awards — beginning last year and extending back to 2001 — include: Greg Osborne, Adam Dann, Joseph Ori, Brian Doherty, Michael Oâ€™Sullivan, Jim Pancyzkowski, Nick Stauder, Michael Carosi, and Keith Aucoin.