Austin Smith was one of the three "Hobey Hat Trick" finalists this year after a sensational season in which he led the nation in goal scoring with 36 and finishing third with 57 points (36 goals, 21 assists) in 39 games with the Colgate Raiders. Smith's excellent senior campaign earned him numerous honors, including the ECAC Player of the Year and a selection to the All-America East First team.
Hockey's Future spoke with Austin Smith following the Hobey Baker Award ceremony in Tampa last Friday.
Hockey's Future: Even though you didn't win the Hobey Baker Award, how does it feel to have been chosen as part of the "Hobey Hat Trick"?
Austin Smith: It was extraordinary to even be here. It was a great opportunity to come in and meet the guys. It was a great day and it went by quick. So it was an honor and just exciting to be here.
HF: Can you talk about how you were able to put together such a phenomenal year at Colgate this season?
AS: I was able to get off to a good start this year, compared to some other seasons. This year, we just had very good chemistry on our team that just came together. I think that kind of helped me. I was able to find good chemistry with linemates Chris Wagner (ANA) and Joe Wilson. We just kind of took off and never looked back. They're great playmakers and I was the beneficiary of a lot of good passes. We just clicked all year and had some good bounces. The puck seemed to go my way in scoring a lot of goals. So it was fun.
HF: What was the secret to your success this season from a developmental standpoint?
AS: There's been a lot because this was a contract year (final collegiate season). I came off of two hip surgeries going into my junior season. I was ok in my junior year. It wasn't the year that I wanted to have at all. The team didn't succeed and I didn't have the year that I wanted. For me, this season was a big year. I was pretty determined to have a good year. I think the success just came from hard work and wanting it more. So I was finally ready to make things happen. I thought I was a good leader for us and tried to inspire the other guys around me even though I didn't wear a letter this year. I think we really came together as a team this year, so that was also a reason why I was so successful.
HF: I know that you recently signed with the Dallas Stars. So how is that going so far?
AS: It's been fun. I've gotten about seven or eight games now. I think I'm adjusting to the speed well. It wasn't as big of a jump as I thought it was going to be actually. So I'm pretty excited about my future really to go into camp next year and have a shot to make the team. With getting these games under my belt, I think that I'll be more than ready to take a crack at it coming in the fall.
HF: How does it feel to actually be a part of the Stars organization now as a pro player?
AS: It's great. I've had a few years to mature, watch these guys play and be drafted by them. Five years later, I finally end up in the (pro) system. So it's a pretty extraordinary feeling.