USCHO awards: Hellebuyck’s impact earns top rookie nod

In his first college hockey game, Connor Hellebuyck was pulled after three Denver goals in 109 seconds made it five against the Massachusetts-Lowell freshman for the night.

To say Hellebuyck’s season got better from there would be a massive understatement.

In 23 games played over the rest of the season, opponents got three goals past Hellebuyck only three times. He was a central part of the River Hawks’ resurgence from a bad start to the season, winning 20 of his 23 starts.

That record and impressive statistics made Hellebuyck USCHO’s rookie of the year for the 2012-13 season.

Hellebuyck finished 20-3 with a 1.37 goals against average, .952 save percentage and six shutouts, leading the nation or sharing the top spot in all the major goaltending statistics.

With Hellebuyck in net, the River Hawks won their first Hockey East regular season and playoff titles and earned their first trip to the Frozen Four.

Postseason awards were chosen by U.S. College Hockey Online’s Division I men’s conference columnists after the Frozen Four. The All-USCHO teams were named earlier Thursday, and individual awards for the coach and player of the year will be unveiled later this week.