Wisconsin’s Cole Caufield wins 2021 Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best player

2021 Hobey Baker winner Cole Caufield shoots against Michigan in a Wisconsin home game in November 2020 (photo: Tom Lynn/Wisconsin Athletic Communications).

PITTSBURGH – Wisconsin forward Cole Caufield was named the 2021 recipient of the Hobey Baker Award in a virtual award ceremony on Friday.

Caufield beat out Minnesota State junior goaltender Dryden McKay and North Dakota sophomore forward Shane Pinto. The three Hobey Hat Trick finalists were selected from an initial list of 10 candidates by the 30-member selection committee and online fan balloting.

“Obviously it means a lot to me and to my team back in Wisconsin,” said Caufield during the broadcast. “It was something I was working for all season. I couldn’t be more thankful.”

Caufield led the nation in scoring this season with 30 goals and 22 assists in 31 games, a 1.68 points per game average.

Twenty-four goals came after Caufield’s return from the World Junior Championship in January where he won a gold medal with Team USA.

Caufield recorded 15 multiple point games in his final 18 contests and unloaded 165 shots on goal this season, averaging 5.3 shots per game. Both numbers led the nation.

He became the first Big Ten player in the eight seasons of the league to win back-to-back scoring titles and was the unanimous Big Ten player of the year this season. His two hat tricks in the 2020-21 campaign made him the first Badger to do so since Brad Englehart in the 1996-97 season.

In his freshman year, Caufield had 19 goals and 36 points. Despite speculation he might turn pro after his rookie campaign, he instead opted for a second season with the Badgers.

In 2019, Caufield was drafted 15th overall in the NHL draft by the Montreal Canadiens, and signed a pro contract with the team after the Badgers were eliminated from the 2021 NCAA tournament by Bemidji State in the first round.

Caufield was unable to attend Friday’s ceremony live as he was playing in his first professional game with the AHL Laval Rocket in a 7 p.m. EDT contest against the Toronto Marlies but had recorded comments on the broadcast. Caufield is expected to speak to members of the media about the Hobey Baker Award at 10 p.m. EDT.

His former teammates and coach Tony Granato were watching the online ceremony from the Wisconsin campus.

Before attending Wisconsin, the Stevens Point, Wis., native shattered USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program goal-scoring records for a single season (72, besting Auston Matthews’ 55) and career (126, eclipsing Phil Kessel’s 104).

Caufield joins 2010 winner Blake Geoffrion as the only Wisconsin players to win the Hobey Baker Award. In 40 games, Geoffrion had 28 goals and 22 assists that season. The 2009-10 Badgers were runners-up to Boston College in the NCAA Frozen Four in Detroit.