The Gridiron Club of Greater Boston announced Thursday that Wesleyan senior forward Walker Harris is the winner of the 20th Joe Concannon Award, presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England at the Division II/III level.
The award was established in 2001 shortly after the passing of the longtime writer for The Boston Globe, who had a great passion for the game of college hockey while always advocating strongly for amateur athletics.
Harris, a Boulder, Colo., native, led the Cardinals in scoring with 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points. Wesleyan finished 15-11-1 and won its first-ever NESCAC title and first berth in the NCAA tournament.
During Harris’ four years at Wesleyan, he played in 105 games and posted 50 goals and 58 assists for 108 points.
“This is terrific news for Walker and our team,” said Wesleyan coach Chris Potter in a statement. “It is gratifying to see all his hard work recognized with such an award. He does so much for this team in all facets of the game including the power play and leading the penalty kill. He is a key faceoff guy for us and as captain, has always led by example on the ice in practice and games.”
Harris was also recognized by the NESCAC as a first-team all-star by the league coaches.
“Walker just has been the heart and soul of this team,” added Potter. “He is one of those players that you never truly replace on the roster and his impact will carry forward with next year’s team as he has influenced the current roster with his character and dedication. I know he has interest in playing at the next level and believe he will be successful based on those same characteristics.”
Harris topped five other finalists in the balloting – University of New England senior forward Ryan Bloom, New England College senior forward Carlos Fornaris, Trinity senior forward Barclay Gammill, Franklin Pierce senior forward Alex Lester and Fitchburg State junior goaltender Brian McGrath.
“It is important in these uncertain times and unforeseen circumstances with the current pandemic to focus on some of the recent good things and achievements for a hockey season that ended abruptly for all of the institutions, players, coaches and fans,” said Gridiron Club Hockey Awards Committee chairman Tim Costello in a statement. “Walker and the finalists are among a great group of their peers who played outstanding hockey throughout the year and will not be able to finish the season on the ice where their ultimate aspirations committed their dedication and pursuit of excellence.”
“The 2019-20 season will be forever remembered as the year of the pandemic and a year without champions. With public health and safety of utmost importance, these season-ending cancellations are understood for greater good but difficult to process nonetheless. It is important, this year more than most, that we do recognize the excellence for Walker and the finalists and look forward to resuming a normal life and hockey as part of it next season.”
The award is anticipated to be presented at the New England College Hockey Writers’ brunch, still scheduled for Sunday, May 3, at the Prince Restaurant in Saugus, Mass.