Hobey Watch, Tournament Edition: Day 1 Analysis

The “Jacques Lamoureux for Hobey” campaign took another step forward on Friday in Bridgeport.

For starters, as I expected, Air Force’s promotional flyers had made their way onto the media tables on Friday, joining the flyers and DVDs for Vermont’s Viktor Stålberg. I mention that because the flyer for Lamoureux is about as effective as you’ll find in terms of truly promoting a candidate. When you look at Lamoureux’s typical day, it gives you all the more respect for the performance he’s been able to put together this season for the Falcons. Also, the reminder at the bottom of the flyer about the criteria for the Hobey – remember, it’s not just an MVP or Player of the Year award – and the short blurb about who Hobey Baker was both help illustrate part of what makes Lamoureux special as a candidate.

Of course, the bigger impact on the Hobey race for Lamoureux on Friday was his second-period insurance goal in the Falcons’ 2-0 win. For anyone who doubts Lamoureux’s numbers because he plays in Atlantic Hockey, an NCAA tournament goal against Michigan adds a certain degree of credibility.

“He scored a big goal here tonight,” Air Force head coach Frank Serratore said, “and actually could have had another one. If you can score against the Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Tournament, I think that should legitimize him in a lot of people’s eyes. He possesses a great gift, and that gift is his ability to score goals.”

The other goal-scorer among Friday’s Hobey finalists was Stålberg, who made me look a little bit silly in the postgame press conference – from my vantage point, I thought his goal had gone in five-hole, and he had to correct me – but made the Bulldogs look worse with his goal to put the Catamounts up 2-0 en route to a 4-1 win.

“I was trying to make a play to Brian [Roloff] on left wing,” Stålberg said. “I kind of fanned on the puck a little bit, and it hit the D’s skate and it came back to me. I took a whack at it, and it ended up being a pretty good shot.”

I don’t know why I didn’t give Stålberg a closer look when I was at Gutterson Field House back in October – looking back at the box score, he didn’t do much to make himself noticeable in the 3-3 tie with Miami – but he was certainly a player to watch on Friday in Bridgeport. The goal helped, of course, but you could tell from the way he moved with the puck that his blend of size, speed, and puck-handling sets him apart from other players out there. I don’t know that he’s got much of a chance at the Hobey this year – I think the Hockey East contingent is pretty solidly behind the other three candidates – but if the Maple Leafs let him stay at UVM for his senior year, he’ll be an excellent candidate for the 2010 Hobey. The “aura” is building.

Michigan’s Louie Caporusso, meanwhile, was shut down along with everyone else in Maize and Blue on Friday, and to be fair, it’s not like he had much of a chance anyway. There’s a certain “aura,” so to speak that true Hobey contenders have, and Caporusso just doesn’t have it yet. The fact that he had to follow Kevin Porter – who had the strongest Hobey aura I’ve ever seen – as Michigan’s next Hobey candidate didn’t help matters. Still, Caporusso didn’t do himself any favors on Friday, and while I do expect to see some sort of western representation in the Hobey Hat Trick, I don’t think it will be Caporusso.

Finally, out in Minneapolis, it’s safe to say that it’s the end of the line for the Hobey chances of Princeton goalie Zane Kalemba. To be fair, the chances weren’t that good to begin with – Hobey doesn’t like goalies, even when they play for his alma mater – but a Princeton upset of Minnesota Duluth could definitely have given the voters something else to think about. As it is, though, he’s officially out of the running, leaving five guys for three spots in the Hat Trick…and of course, one award.

What will happen Saturday? Stay tuned…