Finalists for the 2008 Hobey Baker Award

By DJ Powers

The 2008 Hobey "Hat Trick," the final three players for the Hobey Baker Award, are forwards Nathan Gerbe, Ryan Jones and Kevin Porter, drafted by Buffalo, Minnesota and Phoenix respectively.

The winner of this year’s Hobey Baker award will be announced on April 11 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO during the Frozen Four and will be broadcast live on ESPNU.

Below is a closer look at the finalists.

Nathan Gerbe, C

Junior, Boston College
NHL rights: Buffalo Sabres

Gerbe currently ranks second in the nation in scoring with 60 points (30 goals, 30 assists) and points per game (1.46). His nine power-play and three short-handed goals both rank in the top ten nationally. Of the 41 games that the Oxford, MI native has played in this season, he posted multiple points in 18 of them.

The diminutive dynamo and Buffalo Sabres draft pick was the unanimous selection as the National D-I Player of the Month for December after posting 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in four games. That same month, as well as January, he was named the Hockey East Player of the Month. His outstanding performance on the season also earned him a spot on the All-Hockey East First Team.

Gerbe’s most memorable game of the season to date came back on Dec. 12, when he exploded for four goals and an assist in Boston College’s 7-2 win at Harvard. But the performance that many will remember for some time to come happened on March 15 against Providence College where scored on an unbelievable penalty shot. It would go down as one of the highlight reel goals of the year.

In the post-season, Gerbe was named the Hockey East Tournament Most Valuable Player after posting nine points (four goals, five assists) in nine games to guide the Eagles to their conference-record eighth Hockey East Tournament championship.

Most recently, Gerbe led Boston College to their third consecutive appearance in the Frozen Four. He was named to the All-Northeast Regional Team, posting two goals and an assist for the Eagles.

Boston College associate head coach Mike Cavanaugh’s comments on Gerbe: "Nate has certainly earned that this year. Some people will argue whether he’s the best college hockey player in the country, but I would be hard pressed to find a more exciting player. If the award was for the most exciting player in college hockey, I think Nate would win it hands down. He’s just electric. It’s really fun to coach him and watch him play."

Ryan Jones, RW

Senior, Miami University
NHL rights: Minnesota Wild

Team captain Ryan Jones will go down as one of the most celebrated and beloved players to have ever donned the RedHawks colors when he officially leaves the Oxford, OH campus this spring. He has never missed a game in his entire four-year career at Miami, playing in all 161 games. That set a new school-record surpassing Andy Greene‘s 159. His 21 career game-winners ranks first all time in the school’s history.

Jones had the opportunity to sign with the Minnesota Wild this past summer, but opted to return to Miami to not only complete his collegiate career and get his degree, but to also to honor the commitment that he made to his RedHawks teammates. The Chatham, ON native went on to enjoy a career season. He finished with 49 points (31 goals, 18 assists). His 31 goals currently rank second in the nation, while his seven game-winners are tied for first.

Jones is a three-time CCHA Player of the Week honoree this season and was also named to the All-CCHA First Team.

His most memorable game came on Nov. 2 when he posted four goals and an assist in leading Miami to a 9-2 rout of host Northern Michigan.

Most recently, Jones guided the RedHawks to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance before falling to Boston College in the Northeast Regional final on Sunday to close the season. He posted a goal and an assist on the weekend to earn a spot on the All-Northeast Regional Team.

Miami head coach Enrico Blasi’s comments on Jones: "Ryan is just a special person. When he decided to come back for his senior year, he made a commitment to everybody. The fact that he came back really proved to everybody on the team that Ryan is our captain. That’s the type of character that he has. I can tell you that he loves the game and he loves being a part of the team."

Kevin Porter, C

Senior, University of Michigan
NHL rights: Phoenix Coyotes

The Michigan team captain was given the option to sign with the Phoenix Coyotes over the summer, but chose to return to Michigan to complete his collegiate career and earn his degree. But what few, if anyone was prepared for was the incredible senior year that he would go on to have.

The Northville, MI native currently leads the nation in a number of categories, including points (62), goals (33), points per game (1.48) and plus/minus (plus-34). Porter will look to become just the second player in the illustrious history of the University of Michigan’s program to win the prestigious award. The last and only former Wolverine to have won the Hobey was current Vancouver Canucks centerman Brendan Morrison back in 1997.

Porter was twice named CCHA Player of the Month in November and February. He was also named the National Player of the Month in November. He won the CCHA scoring title after posting an astounding 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists) in 28 conference games, earning him the CCHA Player of the Year as well as a unanimous selection to the All-CCHA First Team.

As one of the nation’s most consistent point producers this year, Porter has posted points in 33 of the 42 games that he has appeared in this season. He led Michigan to capture both the CCHA Regular Season and Mason Cup Championships. He also guided the Wolverines to their NCAA-leading 18th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. In the East Regional, Porter posted five goals and an assist in Michigan’s victories over Niagara and Clarkson respectively, and earned a spot on the All-East Regional team as well as taking Most Outstanding Player honors. The four goals that he scored against Niagara in the semi-final game set an NCAA regional record for most goals scored by one player in a game.

Michigan head coach Red Berenson’s comments on Porter: "He’s an honest hockey player who is having a terrific senior year, and he has led this young team that started out with 12 freshmen from day one. There’s no fanfare about him or controversy around him. Kevin is right there with the great captains that we’ve had in the past. I can’t tell you that he’s the best captain that we’ve ever had, but I can tell you that he’s probably done the best job given the youth, expectations, and all of the questions surrounding our team of any captain since I’ve been here."

The rest of the field of 10

The ten players who made up this year’s finalists for the Hobey Baker award came from nine different schools representing five of the six NCAA conferences.  The University of North Dakota was the only team with two representatives. There were three goaltenders and seven forwards in this year’s group. The field was comprised of five seniors, four juniors and one sophomore (Ryan Lasch). Five of the 10 finalists were drafted by NHL teams.

Lee Jubinville, C
Junior, Princeton University
NHL rights: N/A

Simon Lambert, C
Senior, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)
NHL rights: N/A

Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, G
Senior, University of North Dakota
NHL rights: N/A

Ryan Lasch, C
Sophomore, St. Cloud State University
NHL rights: N/A

Jeff Lerg, G
Junior, Michigan State University
NHL rights: N/A

T.J. Oshie, C
Junior, University of North Dakota
NHL rights: St. Louis Blues

Kevin Regan, G
Senior, University of New Hampshire
NHL rights: Boston Bruins