On Wednesday, the ten finalists for the 26th annual Hobey Baker Memorial Award, honoring the nation’s top collegiate player were narrowed down to the final three, better known as the “Hobey Hat Trick.” Two of the three players are juniors and both are NHL prospects. The other is a senior and certain to garner NHL interest as a potential free-agent signee. The winner of the Hobey Baker Award will be announced during the Frozen Four at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, WI on Apr. 7.
Below is a closer look at the players who make up this year’s “Hobey Hat Trick.”
Matt Carle, Defenseman
Junior, University of Denver
NHL rights: San Jose Sharks
Carle is coming off of a stellar season with the University of Denver Pioneers. He finished his junior season leading the nation in scoring among defensemen with 53 points (11 goals, 42 assists). His 53 points is tied fifth in scoring among all skaters. Carle’s 42 assists also led the nation, while his 1.36 points per game co-led the nation among defensemen. Carle became the first player ever to earn both the WCHA’s Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards in the same season. He was also named to the WCHA All-Conference First Team as well as the WCHA All-Academic Team, carrying a 3.30 grade point average.
The Anchorage, AK native co-captained the Denver Pioneers to a second place finish in the WCHA at the conclusion of the 2005-06 regular season. Carle’s junior season saw him etch his name in the Denver Pioneers hockey history books as well. His 42 assists set a new school record for assists by a defenseman in a single season. Carle fell one point shy of tying the school’s single-season record for points by a defenseman. He was integral part of the Denver Pioneers squad that won back-to-back national championship titles in 2004 and 2005. In the 2005 Frozen Four, he was selected to the All-Tournament team. Carle finishes his illustrious career at the University of Denver second all-time in assists among defensemen (93) and third all-time in points among defensemen (122).
On Mar. 19, Carle signed with the San Jose Sharks, who drafted him in the second round (47th overall) back in 2003. He made his NHL debut on Mar. 25 versus the Minnesota Wild. In the contest, Carle also scored his first professional goal with just 17 seconds left in regulation time.
Chris Collins, Forward
Senior, Boston College
NHL rights: Undrafted
Collins is enjoying the best season of his collegiate career, helping to lead the Boston College Eagles to their sixth Frozen Four appearance in the last nine years. After finishing with just 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) last season, Collins’ offensive numbers have skyrocketed this season. Coming into the Frozen Four, he leads the team with 61 points (31 goals, 30 assists). His 61 points surpasses his point totals of his previous three seasons combined. The Boston College alternate captain ranks tied for second in the nation in points (61), goals (31), and shorthanded goals (5). His 1.52 points per game rank second overall in the nation.
Of the 61 points that Collins has amassed thus far, 39 (18 goals, 21 assists) have come in Hockey East play. His 39 conference points led Hockey East and helped earned him the Hockey East Player of the Year as well as a selection to the All-Conference First Team. Collins also earned two consecutive Hockey East Player of the Month honors for December and January. During the month of December, he tallied 12 points (six goals, six assists) in six games that included his first career hat trick back on Dec. 9 versus UMass. In the month of January, he posted 15 points (five goals, ten assists) in eight games.
The Fairport, NY native was recently named the 2006 recipient of the Walter Brown Award, which is given to the top American-born college hockey player in New England. Collins is the first Boston College player to receive the award since Brian Gionta won it in 2001.
Brian Elliott, Goaltender
Junior, University of Wisconsin
NHL rights: Ottawa Senators
The Newmarket, ON native has been the backbone of one of the nation’s best defensive teams this season, leading the Wisconsin Badgers to their first Frozen Four appearance since 1992. He brings a school and WCHA record 252:15 minute shutout streak that extends over three games into this year’s Frozen Four. The streak shatters a WCHA record that has stood for over 50 years.
Coming into the Frozen Four, Elliott has played in 33 of 41 games for the Badgers this season. Elliott missed eight games earlier in the season due to a knee injury. He leads the nation in virtually every goaltending category, including wins (25), goals against average (1.55), save percentage (.938), and winning percentage (.803). His eight shutouts co-lead the nation. Of his 33 appearances thus far, Elliott has allowed two goals or less in 27 of them. Only 27 of his 52 goals allowed this season have come at even strength. From Oct. 21 to Dec. 3, Elliott backstopped the Badgers to a 12-0-2 record. During that 14-game unbeaten streak, he allowed a total of just 19 goals.
Elliott won the WCHA’s goaltending title after finishing the season with a conference best 1.84 goals against average and .930 save percentage as well as finishing tied for the best record in conference play at 15-3-3. Elliott’s 1.84 goals against average ranks sixth all time in the 54-year history of the WCHA. He has earned five WCHA Goaltender of the Week honors this season as well as the CSTV/Hockey Commissioner’s Association’s National Player of the Month for November. More recently, Elliott was named to the WCHA All-Conference Second Team and named the MVP of the NCAA Tournament Midwest Regional. He was also selected to the WCHA All-Academic Team, with a 3.13 grade point average.
Elliott’s outstanding season has also earned him a spot in the annals of the University of Wisconsin hockey history books. His 11 career shutouts are a school record as are his current eight on the season. All of his current nation-leading statistics except wins and winning percentage are also current school single-season records.
The junior netminder was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the ninth round of the 2003 NHL Draft. At 291st overall, Elliott was the player selected next to last.
Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.