Harvard’s Vesey takes home Hobey, Demko, Connor honored, All-Americans named

By DJ Powers
Jimmy Vesey - Harvard University - 2016 Hobey Baker Memorial Award

Photo: Harvard University forward Jimmy Vesey was named the recipient of the 2016 Hobey Baker Award signifying the top player in all of U.S. college hockey, his second consecutive year as a finalist for that award (courtesy of Elsa/Getty Images)



In the calm before the NCAA championship game storm that will take place on Saturday night in Tampa, U.S. college hockey handed out their top awards for the 2015-16 season. Those awards included the Tim Taylor Award, the Mike Richter Award, and the award designating the top player in all of NCAA hockey, the Hobey Baker Award.

In addition to announcing the winners of those awards, the NCAA also revealed their First and Second Team All-Americans from the Eastern and Western conferences.

Jimmy Vesey wins 2016 Hobey Baker Award

Harvard University senior Jimmy Vesey (NSH) was named the recipient of the 2016 Hobey Baker Award at the Frozen Four Awards presentation at the Tampa Theatre on Friday night. The North Reading, MA native beat out Boston College junior netminder Thatcher Demko (VAN) and University of Michigan freshman sensation Kyle Connor (WPG) for college hockey’s top individual honor. Vesey is the fourth Crimson player to have won the Hobey Baker Award, and the first since 1989. He was also named to the All-American East First Team on Friday.

“We’re incredibly proud of the way Jimmy has carried himself,” Harvard head coach Ted Donato said of Vesey. “He’s had two incredible seasons in a row. I think Jimmy represents not only what we are as Harvard University, but also what being a Harvard student-athlete is all about.

“Jimmy has definitely been a difference-maker both on and off the ice,” Donato continued. “He’s a guy that plays with a lot of tenacity and has a great work ethic. Jimmy plays with a chip on his shoulder that I think reflects what our whole group feels. He’s the type of guy that’s always trying to prove that, not only does he belong (among the best), but that the rest of the team belongs as well. Jimmy really is a tremendous leader for us and he’s certainly more than just his hockey talents for us.”

Vesey led the Crimson to the Northeast Regional of the 2016 NCAA Tournament, finishisg his final collegiate season leading Harvard with 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 33 games. Among the many accolades that Vesey has garnered this season include both the Ivy League and ECAC Player of the Year honors, as well as winning his second consecutive Walter Brown Award as the top American-born hockey player competing at a New England college or university.

Vesey will graduate from Harvard in May with a degree in government.

Boston College’s Thatcher Demko named the 2016 recipient of the Mike Richter Award

Boston College junior Thatcher Demko (VAN) was named the winner of the 2016 Mike Richter Award on Friday night. The San Diego, CA native beat out a formidable field of four other deserving candidates in UMass-Lowell senior Kevin Boyle (ANA), North Dakota sophomore Cam Johnson, St. Cloud State junior Charlie Lindgren (MTL) and Yale junior Alex Lyon (PHI).

“Being presented the award by Mike Richter himself was pretty special to me,” Demko said after accepting the award. “I was really proud of my team this year, and they played a huge role in this. I couldn’t have done it by myself. So it’s definitely exciting.

“San Diego is obviously not a traditional hockey hot spot,” Demko continued. “I think this kind of proves that it really doesn’t matter where you come from or what environment that you’ve played in because it’s up to you to push through it and making sure that you’re putting in the work to be successful. I think it also proves that no matter where you’re from, whether it’s Boston or San Diego or wherever, that you can achieve great things as long as you put your mind to it.”

Demko, who was also named to the All-American East Second Team on Friday, backstopped Boston College to the 2016 NCAA Frozen Four. The Eagles fell to Quinnipiac in Thursday’s first semi-final game. Demko’s numbers were staggering this season. He finished his sensational junior campaign with a 27-8-4 record that included an NCAA-best 10 shutouts in 39 games en route to earning Hockey East’s Co-Player of the Year honor. Demko’s 10 shutouts also set a new Boston College single season record and is tied for second in college hockey history.

Michigan’s Kyle Connor wins 2016 Tim Taylor Award

As expected, Michigan freshman sensation Kyle Connor (WPG) was named the recipient of the 2016 Tim Taylor Award as the National Rookie of the Year. The Shelby Township, MI native dominated the NCAA this season, leading the nation with 71 points (35 goals, 36 assists) in 38 games with the Wolverines. Connor also was named both the Big Ten Player and Rookie of the Year for the 2015-16 season. His 71 points matched that of former Boston University star Jack Eichel (BUF), who was named the 2015 recipient of both the Hobey Baker and Tim Taylor Awards. Connor was a part of Michigan’s lethal “CCM” line that scored more points than any other line in college hockey this season.

Connor set a new Michigan single-season record when he finished his freshman campaign riding an astounding 27-game point streak.

Connor was also one of four Michigan players that were named to the All-American team on Friday. He joined teammates Tyler Motte (CHI) and sophomore defenseman Zach Werenski (CBJ) on the All-America West First Team. Connor and Motte’s linemate, junior J.T. Compher (COL), was named to the All-America West Second Team.

14 NHL-drafted players among those named All-Americans

Michigan and North Dakota each had four players named All-Americans on Friday in Tampa. The Boston Bruins led with three NHL-drafted players named to the All-American teams.

The four players from Michigan are all NHL prospects, led by 2016 Tim Taylor Award recipient Kyle Connor (WPG). Joining Connor on the All-West First Team were junior Tyler Motte (CHI) and sophomore defenseman Zach Werenski (CBJ). Junior J.T. Compher (COL), who was named to the West Second Team, rounded out the Wolverines group.

Freshman Brock Boeser (VAN) is the lone prospect among the four North Dakota players named to the All-America West teams. He was also the lone Fighting Hawk named to the West’s All-First Team. Senior Drake Caggiula, junior defenseman Troy Stecher, and sophomore netminder Cam Johnson were all named to the All-West Second Team.

Despite an injury-shortened season, sophomore defenseman Jake Walman (STL) earned a spot on the All-East First Team. His Providence College teammate, senior Mark Jankowski (CGY), was named to the All-East Second Team.

Recently signed free agents from St. Cloud State in junior netminder Charlie Lindgren and senior defenseman Ethan Prow (PIT) were both named to the All-West Team.

Below is the complete list of All-Americans. An asterisk (*) denotes that the player was recently signed as a free agent by the indicated NHL team in parentheses.

East First Team

*G Alex Lyon (PHI), junior, Yale University
D Matt Grzelcyk (BOS), senior, Boston University
D Jake Walman (STL), sophomore, Providence College
F Sam Anas, junior, Quinnipiac University
*F Andrew Poturalski (CAR), sophomore, University of New Hampshire
F Jimmy Vesey (NSH), senior, Harvard University


East Second Team

G Thatcher Demko (VAN), junior, Boston College
D Gavin Bayreuther, junior, St. Lawrence University
D Rob O’Gara (BOS), senior, Yale University
F Ryan Fitzgerald (BOS), junior, Boston College
F Mark Jankowski (CGY), senior, Providence College
F Danny O’Regan (SJS), senior, Boston University


West First Team

*G Charlie Lindgren (MTL), junior, St. Cloud State University
*D Ethan Prow (PIT), senior, St. Cloud State University
D Zach Werenski (CBJ), sophomore, University of Michigan
F Brock Boeser (VAN), freshman, University of North Dakota
F Kyle Connor (WPG), freshman, University of Michigan
F Tyler Motte (CHI), junior, University of Michigan


West Second Team

G Cam Johnson, sophomore, University of North Dakota
D Will Butcher (COL), junior, University of Denver
D Troy Stecher, junior, University of North Dakota
F Drake Caggiula, senior, University of North Dakota
F J.T. Compher (COL), junior, University of Michigan
F Alex Petan, senior, Michigan Tech University

Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF