The NCAA announced the Hat Trick Finalists for the 2008-2009 Hobey Baker Award. For the first time in nine seasons all three finalists are from the same conference, Hockey East.
None of them play the same position and two of them are teammates. At least two of them will not be playing college hockey next year as one is graduating and another is leaving early. The future of the third has not yet been decided.
From the Terriers of Boston University, sophomore forward Colin Wilson and defenseman and senior captain Matt Gilroy were both nominated after helping BU to their first Frozen Four in 12 years.
Representing the Northeastern University Huskies, junior goalie Brad Thiessen has also made the final list. He recently signed a pro contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins and will be skipping his senior year at NU.
Gilroy is probably the best defenseman in the nation and started his career as a walk-on. Now he is a three-time First Team All-Conference player and Hobey Baker finalist.
He was also named the CHN Player of the Year by College Hockey News and made the All-CHN First Team. He also won this year's Walter Brown as New England's best American born college hockey player.
This season Gilroy scored eight goals while chipping in 28 assists for 36 total points. He was named to the New England All-Stars and as New England's best defenseman, won the Bob Monahan Award.
Wilson also made First Team All-Hockey East while taking home the co-scoring champion award after netting 15 goals and assisting on 37 for 52 total points.
He was picked for the Second Team All-CHN and is a seventh overall pick by the Nashville Predators. He finished tied for third in the nation in scoring and played a key role in BU's rise to the top and into the Frozen Four.
Wilson joins Gilroy on the New England All-Stars team and snatched up the Herb Gallagher Award as New England's best forward.
Thiessen has won many awards this season. He was named First Team All-Hockey East as the only unanimous choice despite the stellar season of freshman goaltender Kieran Millan from BU.
Thiessen also joins Gilroy on the All-CHN First Team and the All-Northeastern Hockey East team. He was the only current Husky to be named to the 25th Anniversary Team.
The list doesn't end there. Thiessen has won the last two Eberly Awards given to the Beanpot's best goaltender. He has also set many season and career records for Northeastern.
Other awards from Hockey East were the Three Stars Award, Itech Goaltending Champion, and Reebok Player of the Year.
Lastly, Thiessen was also named a New England All Star and took home the Leonard Fowle Award as New England's Most Valuable Player.
Who Should Win
If I was to write this section from my perspective as a Northeastern fan, all I would type is Brad Thiessen's name and that would be the end of the article.
However, I am going to try and be unbiased about it and try to legitimize each player and why they should win the award.
I'll start with Colin Wilson. He has been at the forefront of Hobey Baker chatter all season, and with reason, he is a great player. He could leave for the NHL now and probably be ready to go.
The Nashville Predators are definitely hoping he decides not to return to BU for his junior year and start helping them get better.
The thing Wilson has going against him is that he doesn't stand out, scoring wise, from the rest of the nation's scoring leaders. As a forward on the team that scores more goals than anyone, or probably everyone, you would probably expect a few more goals from him.
The kid is really good, and if he plays next year, he will be one of the early favorites for the award as he will probably only get better in the offseason.
If he wins, it will be because the voting committee looks beyond his numbers and size of the pile of awards that Thiessen and Gilroy have in front of them and look solely at the skill of the players. Wilson is out in front of that.
Matt Gilroy decided not to sign with an NHL club last year and will be highly sought after this offseason as a free agent.
He is the best defenseman in the nation right now, and the lack of a statistical standout in scoring has put extra emphasis on defensive ability, which Gilroy has a load of.
He is the Terriers' MVP and all the awards Thiessen has beaten him for could easily have gone to him.
If a Terrier wins, it should be Gilroy, because without him, their blue line loses a lot of smarts and skill. The team would probably drop to an entire level.
If Gilroy wins, the selection committee will be looking not only at skill but at intelligence and instincts and how much the player has contributed to the awards the team has won.
Thiessen is arguably the most valuable player to his team in the nation. Without him, Northeastern is nowhere near as good as they were this season. They still would be good, but not great.
However, the last three games for the Huskies have ended in goals being scored in the last 40 seconds of regulation. In the Hockey East quarterfinals, it wasn't a big deal because they went on to win in overtime.
However, in the Hockey East Semifinals, Northeastern gave up a game-tying goal after having a 2-0 lead then went on to lose in overtime.
It kept getting worse. For the first time since 1994, NU earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Again, they jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but three third period goals sank the Huskies. The game-tying goal was scored inside two minutes, with the winner getting by Thiessen with less than 20 seconds on the clock.
That trend to me does not sound like a Hobey Baker winning goalie. One time is a fluke, two times, maybe over the course of three or four games is acceptable, but three times in a row? That doesn't make sense.
The only thing Thiessen has going for him in this award is that there are two players from the same team going against him. If he wins it will be because Wilson and Gilroy split votes and enough people picked a goalie who played a larger role in his team's success than any other player in the nation.
In the end, I think Gilroy deserves the award the most. I'm kind of hoping Wilson gets it, because maybe it means he will leave for the NHL after the Frozen Four. But in the end, I am pulling for Thiessen and hoping he can bring Northeastern its first ever Hobey Baker Award.
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