Hockey East pots Hat Trick

Call it a Hockey East-ern bias.

Thursday, the Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation announced the three Hobey Hat Trick finalists for the 2009 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, honoring college hockey’s top player. For the first time in the Hat Trick format’s nine seasons, all three players hail from one conference, in this case the Hockey East Association.

Title-contending Boston University boasts two athletes in the mix, with senior defenseman Matt Gilroy and sophomore forward Colin Wilson joining Northeastern junior goaltender Brad Thiessen in the final trio.

Gilroy is the senior captain anchoring the Terrier defense. BU was ranked No. 1 in the nation for a good portion of the season and is the top seed heading into the NCAA Frozen Four. Leading by example, the native of North Bellmore, N.Y., has logged considerable ice time and his durability has allowed him to play in 144 consecutive games. Turning down off-season pro contract offers, Gilroy returned to finish his career recording eight goals and 28 assists for 36 points in 42 games – 24 of those points coming in road games. He was recognized as a First Team player in Hockey East, becoming the first defenseman in league history to be so honored three times, not bad for a guy whose career began as a walk-on. Recently, the Management Studies major was named recipient of the prestigious Walter Brown Award as the best American-born college player in New England. Gilroy spends off-season time helping his family run a basketball league on Long Island. His brother Kevin is a freshman teammate at BU, and Matt wears number 97 to honor his deceased brother Timmy.

Wilson is a sophomore forward who has a knack for making things happen. The First-Team Hockey East all-star continues to sparkle following his Hockey East Rookie of the Year accolades from a year ago: in 41 games this season, Wilson bagged 15 goals and set up 37 more for 52 total points. Heading into the Frozen Four, he is second in the nation in assists and third in points. Wilson finished tied for the league scoring title while his Terriers captured the Hockey East regular season and playoff championships. An outstanding playmaker from Greenwich, Conn., Wilson was drafted by Nashville seventh overall last year; his father Carey spent 13 years playing in the NHL. A History major at BU, Wilson participated in the Autism Speaks program and recorded 17 multiple point games this season, including three points in the Beanpot final, a 5-2 BU win.

Thiessen is coming off a brilliant season backstopping the Huskies’ rise to national prominence. En route to becoming the Hockey East’s top goalie, his consistently dependable play garnered postseason recognition as Hockey East Player of the Year and First Team all-star. Hailing from Aldergrove, British Columbia, Thiessen played every minute of the season, becoming the third-busiest goalie in college hockey. He is fourth in the nation in wins, sporting an overall record of 25-12-4. The Journalism major ranks 12th in the nation in goals-against average at 2.11 and is fifth in the nation in save percentage at .931; he also posted three shutouts. The Huskies’ sterling season included a second-place finish in Hockey East and their first NCAA appearance since 1994. Brad established six single season team records, allowing two goals or less in 24 of his 41 games (19-1-4).

The three finalists were selected from the initial list of Top Ten candidates by the 25-member Selection Committee and an additional round of online fan balloting to determine this year’s Hobey Baker winner. Criteria for the award includes strength of character on and off the ice, displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, sportsmanship, and scholastic achievements.

This year’s Hobey Baker Award winner will be announced Friday, April 10, 2009 from Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., during the NCAA Frozen Four. The 29th annual announcement will be aired live on ESPNU at 7 p.m. EDT.

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