St. Lawrence goalie Hayton, Penn State freshman Smirnov garner HCA honors for November

March 18, 2016:  St. Lawrence Saints goalie Kyle Hayton (27) makes save during 2016 ECAC Tournament Semifinal game between St. Lawrence University and Harvard University at Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, NY. (John Crouch/J. Alexander Imaging)
St. Lawrence goalie Kyle Hayton went 5-0-3 last month for the No. 19-ranked Saints (photo: John Crouch/J. Alexander Imaging).

St. Lawrence junior goaltender Kyle Hayton has been named the Hockey Commissioners’ Association National Division I Player of the Month for November, while Penn State freshman forward Denis Smirnov is the HCA National Rookie of the Month.

Hayton led the Saints to a No. 19 national ranking last month and finished November tied among all of his Division I counterparts in games started (8), posting a 5-0-3 record. He began the first weekend of the month by recording back-to-back shutout home wins in league play over Princeton and then-No. 6-ranked Quinnipiac. In doing so, he broke Bill Sloan’s 60-year-old St. Lawrence program record for career shutouts with 10. He became the first Saints goaltender to post back-to-back shutouts since current volunteer goaltender coach Alex Petizian did it on Feb. 27-28, 2009, at RPI and Union.

The Denver native continued to backbone the Saints throughout the month, logging 494:36 minutes between the pipes, which was the most among all men’s Division I goaltenders. Hayton only allowed a total of nine goals, while making 232 saves for a .963 save percentage, which was fourth-best in the nation. He allowed two goals or fewer in all games, posting a 1.09 GAA, which was also fourth-best among his counterparts during November.

He capped-off the month by recording 37 saves in blanking Quinnipiac in the Friendship Four Tournament in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Nov. 25 as the two teams skated to a scoreless overtime tie. He followed it up with a 35-save performance the following evening in a 2-2 overtime tie versus Massachusetts.

Hayton is now on a personal nine-game unbeaten streak (5-0-4), improving his overall winning percentage to .667, which has helped the Saints gain the top spot in league play with 12 points and a 5-0-2 record. He was also named ECAC Hockey’s Goaltender of the Month for November.

smirnovSmirnov led the Big Ten in scoring during the month of November as he registered six goals and seven assists for 13 points. He registered multiple points in five of his six games during the month while averaging a nation-leading 2.17 points per game. His 13 points and six goals on the month were also good for second in the nation.

Smirnov opened the month with a career-high three-point performance against Niagara on Nov. 3, scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist. The following night, he capped off a six-point weekend with a trio of assists in the series finale. For his efforts, Smirnov was named the Big Ten Second Star for the week.

The freshman from Moscow began his career on a 10-game point streak before having it snapped against Alaska-Anchorage on Nov. 12. Smirnov wasted little time, making Penn State program history and setting a new career-best the following weekend in a home series against Arizona State.

On Nov. 18, he netted his first collegiate hat trick, including the game-winning goal, in an 7-4 victory for the Nittany Lions. The hat trick was only the fourth in Penn State’s program history. The following night, Smirnov tallied the game-winner, securing the weekend sweep and extending the team’s unbeaten streak to 11 games. For his performance, Smirnov earned his second career conference honor, securing the Big Ten First Star for the week.

For the season, Smirnov leads the nation’s freshmen in points per game (1.69), assists (13) and points (22).

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