Anybody’s Race

If you heard a whoosh of air over the last couple of weeks, look for a flash of red: it just may have been the free-fall of Ben Scrivens’ save percentage.

OK, that may not entirely be fair, but the Cornell goalie has allowed a total of 15 goals in his last six starts, including the early exit against St. Lawrence in that 8-1 win three weeks ago. He also gave up eight goals last weekend in the Big Red’s lost weekend at Dartmouth and Harvard.

Now, I don’t say this to pick on Scrivens; he’s had a great seson, and he’s going to be a finalist for the award. As we know, though, Hobey doesn’t like goalies (can I talk about Hobey’s likes and dislikes the way movie people do with Oscar?), especially not when they come from a system that regularly produces strong goaltending numbers. Scrivens’ best shot was – and possibly still is – to get into Ryan Miller territory for the year (1.32 GAA, .950 SV%), and after the last three weeks, he’s not there (1.63 GAA, .940 SV%).

But then again, there’s no skater with an especailly strong claim to the award, either. The top two scorers in the country – Quinnipiac’s Bryan Leitch and Boston University’s Colin Wilson – have a disproportionate number of assists as part of their total, and Hobey likes forwards to have lots of goals. Jamie McBain has a higher scoring average than any college defenseman since Matt Carle in his 2005-06 Hobey season, but he doesn’t have two national championships, which is kind of important for individual recognition when your team is on the NCAA torunament bubble. Besides, we’re still waiting for the promotional appearance by Rainier Wolfcastle.

So, what does all this mean? Well, in contrast to last year, when Kevin Porter was the prohibitive favorite for the Hobey for weeks before he collected his hardware in Denver – and Nate Gerbe was mounting one hell of a challenge – there is no true front-runner in this race from a statistical standpoint.

That’s excellent news for three people in particular: Brad Thiessen of Northeastern, Matt Gilroy of Boston University, and Jacques Lamoureux of Air Force.

Why those three? Because they have a story, and that makes them more attractive Hobey candidates, particularly when there’s no clear front-runner (and when there is a front-runner, a compelling story makes that lead almost unassailable; just ask Kevin Porter).

Thiessen doesn’t have Scrivens’ numbers – even with Cornell’s recent slide – but he’s taking Northeastern, a perennial also-ran in the city of Boston and in Hockey East – and made them a force to be reckoned with. There are probably those out there who consider Thiessen’s performance this season more impressive than Scrivens’. I’m not one of them, but I think they’re out there.

Gilroy, meanwhile, was my preseason pick to fill Porter’s role as the guy who stayed in school when he had the opportunity to turn pro, and led his team to the Frozen Four. Well, that seems to be the one pick I was solid on (and if you want some entertainment, go back to my preseason “casting” and look at just how wrong I was). He’s also a guy who brings a ton of elements that don’t show up on the stat sheet, and when no one is really filling the stat sheet at what we’ve come to recognize as Hobey levels, that becomes much more important.

Lamoureux, meanwhile, is the national leader in goals, power-play goals, and game-winning goals, so he’s already got the numbers on his side as much as Wilson does (or possibly more). Add to that the idea of an Air Force cadet being up for an award named for a fighter pilot, his candidacy for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, and the fact that he was so set on going to Air Force – in wartime, no less – that he transferred from Northern Michigan, and he may be on the verge of becoming the favorite for the award.

But we shall see. Right now, it’s anyone’s race.