OK, folks, this is it.
We’re two days away from finding out which three players will be at the Verizon Center on Friday night for the presentation of the 2009 Hobey Baker Award. This would roughly be the part where I take my shot at who those three players will be.
Where we last left our Hobey hopefuls, there were five players remaining for three slots in the Hobey Hat Trick: Jacques Lamoureux of Air Force, Viktor Stålberg of Vermont, Brad Thiessen of Northeastern, and the Boston University duo of Matt Gilroy and Colin Wilson.
On Saturday, Thiessen took himself out of the running when Northeastern was eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Cornell. It’s hard to pin the entire blame on Thiessen – after all, Northwestern wouldn’t be in the NCAA tournament without him – but Northeastern’s woeful record in tournament situations (Beanpot, Dodge Holiday Classic, Hockey East, NCAA) makes it very hard to vote for him. So, Thiessen will get one more shot as a senior (should he choose to return), but you won’t be seeing him at the Verizon Center on Friday the 10th.
With Thiessen gone, that leaves four players: Stålberg, Wilson, Gilroy and Lamoureux.
At this point, I’d have to say Lamoureux is a lock for one of those three spots, if for no other reason than that I can’t see any one conference monopolizing the Hat Trick. Beyond that, though, with an All-Regional performance in Bridgeport – which included a goal in the upset of Michigan – Lamoureux added an extra degree of credibility to his NCAA-best goals total. Add that to the intangibles that come with playing at the Air Force Academy (both the demanding lifestyle and the connection to Hobey Baker, World War I fighter pilot), and you have a surefire Hat Trick spot, and maybe even the Hobey itself.
Obviously, there’s going to be at least one BU player in the Hat Trick, and in my opinion, Matt Gilroy is the sure thing in that competition. Winning the Walter Brown Award gives us a bit of insight into how the two players are evaluated in the region where observers are most familiar with them, and if they say Gilroy’s the guy, it’s safe to say the national panel will share that opinion. Also, Gilroy had the better weekend in Manchester.
So, that’s two spots filled, and Colin Wilson and Viktor Stålberg for the third spot. Stålberg leapt over Thiessen this weekend as Vermont advanced to the Frozen Four, and I started to see the “Hobey aura” I’ve been talking about as I observed the attention he commanded on the ice. Still, I’m not sure that it’ll be enough to get him past Wilson, who has been a more constant presence in the Hobey conversation this year.
I’ve been adamant that Wilson’s chances of winning are hampered by his meager goal total, so it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see Stålberg – who has nine more goals – get the last spot. Still, Wilson is the focal point of the offense for BU, and my gut feeling is that he will join Gilroy and Lamoureux in the Hat Trick.
So, while I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stålberg in the Hat Trick, for now, my call is going to be Matt Gilroy, Colin Wilson, and Jacques Lamoureux.
Am I right? Time will tell.