Goals and assists

A quick thought or two from the press box at the Xcel Energy Center (where the wireless is working much better for me on account of it being less crowded than it is down in the media workroom).

I’ve said on many occasions that “Hobey Likes Goals” or “Hobey Loves Goals,” borrowing a turn of phrase from the folks who cover the Academy Awards.

(Speaking of which, a side note for those debating the role of events from a season ago or more: I think we should all be glad that this isn’t more like the Oscars, where Jim Carrey – not to be confused with former Wisconsin goalie Jim Carey – wasn’t even nominated for “The Truman Show,” “Man on the Moon,” or “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” snubs often blamed on him “talking” through his butt in the Ace Ventura movies. “Butt” I digress… )

Anyway, having established that “Hobey Likes Goals,” it’s worth considering how the statistical contributions of the Hobey Baker finalists influenced the voters.

With the final vote taken, we know that the Hobey Baker Award will go to one of three young men.

Cam Atkinson, JR, F, Boston College: 31 goals, 21 assists, 39 games played (1.33 PPG)
Matt Frattin, SR, F, North Dakota: 36 goals, 24 assists, 43 games played (1.40 PPG)
Andy Miele, SR, F, Miami: 24 goals, 47 assists, 39 games played (1.82 PPG)

As I noted the other day, the statistics against NCAA tournament teams show Atkinson to be the strongest against the best competition, with 12 goals and seven assists in 11 games against Denver, Notre Dame, Merrimack, New Hampshire and Colorado College. Miele had eight goals and 17 assists in 15 games against New Hampshire, Western Michigan, Notre Dame and Michigan, while Frattin had nine goals and six assists in 17 games against Denver, Minnesota Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, Notre Dame, Colorado College and Rensselaer. I have a feeling, though, that with Frattin as the overall national leader in goals and Miele as the overall national leader in assists and total points, Atkinson was hard pressed to top both of them in the final voting. Maybe one, maybe the other, but not both. This is why I’ve been reluctant to include Atkinson alongside Miele and Frattin when doing my final analyses.

So, how do you compare the leader in goals and the leader in assists/total points? Is it a simple matter of saying “Hobey loves goals” and handing the award to Frattin? No. And I’m not talking about the character issue, because I think I might be as sick of discussing it as you are of reading my thoughts on the subject, believe it or not.

The thing that should be considered here is that Andy Miele, in addition to being the national leader in assists and total points, is also 13th in the nation in goals per game. That’s pretty darn good if you ask me. And, if you’re “pretty darn good” in one major offensive statistical area while being the best in the country in the other, then that makes for a pretty impressive overall package.

(Frattin, by the way, averages .56 assists per game, good for 88th in the country, in case anyone is wondering.)

Of course, statistics aren’t everything, and the contributions in other phases of the game were considered, I’m sure, but several readers posted comments debating the issue of goals vs. assists, and I wanted to address that in this space. My gut feeling is that the nod in the stats department would go to Miele.

That’s it out of me for now. If Frattin lights up Michigan tomorrow night, you might get a bit more tomorrow, but other than that, check back on Friday for my final analysis and pick.