The Hockey East regular season is complete and the playoffs are upon us.
That means that all of the 11 coaches have filed their ballots for league awards, which will be presented at the annual Hockey East awards banquet on March 15.
As I usually do, I’ll provide here my selections for all of the top awards (I’ll leave out top defensive forward and top defenseman because I simply don’t see certain players enough to watch how they play their position).
These are simply the players who stand out to me and represent only my opinion (I haven’t polled my colleague, Dave Hendrickson, or any of the 11 coaches). If you want to comment, do so below respectfully and I will try to answer back over the next couple of days.
Coach of the Year
Jerry York, Boston College and Dennis ‘Red’ Gendron, Maine
I will start out with what I believe might be the most difficult decision on the ballot – Coach of the Year.
To me, there are two equally strong candidates and I can’t decide between them.
Jerry York’s team won the Hockey East regular-season title when most figured the Eagles might not even get a first-round bye. Sure, the Eagles struggled out of conference (against an extremely difficult schedule), but balloting is supposed to focus on league games. And in Hockey East, York got a lot from his players, particularly some of the younger players on the team.
Red Gendron’s Maine squad opened plenty of eyes. Paced by an outstanding goaltender in Jeremy Swayman and the sophomore duo of Mitchell Fossier and Chase Pearson, the Black Bears moved from the bottom of the league to within a point of a first-round bye. Now, had Maine closed the season strong and earned home ice in the quarterfinals, I think that would have made the Maine staff the hands-down choice. But it was a tough finish for the Black Bears that allowed York and his staff to squeak in.
Honorable Mention: Jim Madigan, Northeastern
Player of the Year
Adam Gaudette, Northeastern
Similar to Coach of the Year, I could have probably picked a duo to share this award.
If I did, the second player would have been Adam Gaudette’s linemate Dylan Sikura. This duo – which on the power play combining with the likes of Nolan Stevens and Jeremy Davies makes for on of the best PP units in the nation – was head and shoulders above many and both will garner a lot of Hobey Baker attention.
Gaudette, though, performed so well in league play, posting 20 goals in 24 games. To give some perspective, Hobey Baker winner Jack Eichel scored only 14 goals in 22 games in 2014-15. And while technically we don’t need to consider non-league play, no one will forget his Beanpot hat trick that helped end the 30-year drought for the Huskies in the annual tournament.
Honorable Mention: Dylan Sikura, Northeastern and Erik Foley, Providence
Rookie of the Year
Cayden Primeau, Northeastern
When I was selecting Cayden Primeau for my selection, I thought I might be making waves as I couldn’t remember a lot of goaltenders to earn the award.
Looking back, though, eight goaltenders have either been Rookie of the Year or shared the awards.
What would make this award historic, though, is that Primeau plays for Northeastern. In the 33 previous years of Hockey East, never has a Huskies player been named Rookie of the Year.
Primeau really has been the backbone of this Huskies team and, while the offensive talented is outstanding, I’m not sure Northeastern would have finished in second place without the stability Primeau provided to the Huskies defense.
Honorable Mention: Logan Hutsko, Boston College and Cale Makar, Massachusetts
Below are my selections for all-league and all-rookie teams:
All-Hockey East First Team
F: Adam Gaudette, Northeastern
F: Dylan Sikura, Northeastern
F: Erik Foley, Providence
D: Jeremy Davies, Northeastern
D: Chad Krys, Boston University
G: Cayden Primeau, Northeastern
All-Hockey East Second Team
F: Nolan Stevens, Northeastern
F: Logan Hutsko, Boston College
F: Bobo Carpenter, Boston University
D: Tommy Panico, UMass Lowell
D: Dante Fabbro, Boston University
G: Hayden Hawkey, Providence
All-Hockey East Rookie Team
F: Logan Hutsko, Boston College
F: Shane Bowers, Boston University
F: Alex Esposito, Vermont
D: Max Gildon, New Hampshire
D: Cale Makar, Massachusetts
G: Cayden Primeau, Northeastern
Eagles close out regular season in style
Boston College captured its 16th regular season title last Friday with a 6-3 victory over Maine.
The victory closed out an impressive Hockey East slate that included an eight-game winning streak to being the season and five straight victories to clinch the title.
Given that BC was 0-7-3 in non-league play, it felt like an improbably run to the title. But when given the opportunity this team, picked as a middle-of-the-pack team by most before the season began, found ways to create offense and play well on the back end.
Last weekend, the distribution of offense was noticeable. Not surprisingly, that was a major theme of BC’s York before the season and throughout.
“When you can get goals up and down your lineup, it’s huge for us,” said York, whose lineup boasts just three double-digit goal scorers and no one with more than 12 goals. “All year long we thought this going to be goals by committee, so it’s good to see it pay off like that.”
For York, winning this title might feel special, especially given the departures his program had in the last two offseasons. That’s not something that is lost on York.
“We’re still resetting out whole roster,” said York. “I remember coming home from the Frozen Four two years thinking, ‘Boy, we’re going to be on a run here for a long time.’ Then all of a sudden seven players turn pro up and down our lineup, from freshmen and sophomores to juniors.
“There was a moment I thought we’d run the table the next few years with the players we have. Now, we’ve rebuilt and added players and slowly getting back. To win a league championship is a nice testament to the players we have. It’s bodes well for the future.”
As UNH and Maine face off in Hockey East first round, alums teaming to help player development
New Hampshire and Maine will battle on the ice to advance to the Hockey East quarterfinals this weekend in Orono.
And while one of the league’s best rivalries heats up in a playoff battle, former captains of each team are banding together to help with player development.
Matt Fornataro, a 2008 graduate of New Hampshire and Joey Diamond, a member of the Maine class of 2013, joined together to form Kompany39. The goal of the company is to create content for both fans and players alike to provide an under-the-hood glimpse into the lives, backstory and mental training of the game’s elite players.
The first cases study San Jose Sharks captain Joe Pavelski. The exclusive video content is accessed through a package purchased on the site, which includes Pavelski’s documentary footage complete with interviews from Brent Burns, Tony Granato, PK O’Handley, and others.
Consumers can also gain access to an on-ice practice video with four offensive drills created by Pavelski. Rounding out the package is a Mindset & Success eBook, which provides an all-access piece of literature highlighting Pavelski’s key principles of his success and how to implement them into daily life.
“As former players ourselves, we felt there was an opportunity to not only celebrate the game’s best players, but also unveil what they rely on for their personal success, both on and off the ice” said Fornataro. “We give fans a deeper look into the athlete’s life, and give the younger generation of players the tools they need to elevate their game; something we ourselves would have benefitted from in our playing careers.”
For more information, visit www.kompany39.com.