Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 Hobey Hat Trick Revealed

It's down to the final three contestants in the 2011 Hobey Baker Memorial Award race. The trio includes Cam Atkinson of Boston College, Matt Frattin of North Dakota, and Andy Miele of Miami.

Atkinson, who just signed a pro contract with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets and will not return to the Heights next season, is second in the nation with 31 goals, one year after registering 30 tallies and helping BC to the 2010 national title. He scored his final collegiate goal in BC's 8-4 West Regional first-round loss to Colorado College on March 25.

Frattin leads NCAA Division I with 36 goals this season, and is second in the nation with 60 points. He's also the only one of the trio that will be playing in the 2011 Frozen Four, after the Fighting Sioux rampaged through the Midwest Regional in Green Bay with lopsided wins over both Rensselaer and Denver on March 26-27. Frattin, who collected a goal and two assists last weekend, is property of the the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Miele leads all college players with 47 assists and 71 points, although his season and career ended with Miami's 3-1 loss to New Hampshire in the first round of the Northeast Regional on March 26. I'd say he's the favorite, judging by his point totals, plus he seems to have avoided arrest issues that have afflicted his competition, although none of those incidents occurred this winter.,_frattin,_miele_in.php

Frattin and Atkinson have seemingly cleaned up their acts. It's been well-documented how Frattin was suspended from North Dakota after two arrests, left campus to sort out his life, and came back stronger for it. Atkinson's one-time troubles with the law actually took place two months before he ever skated for the Eagles. It all depends on how much weight the committee gives to character issues, although both players have been pretty active in their communities, as has Miele, a pro free agent.

Still, the Hobey Baker Award is supposed to encompass a number of factors, including playing ability, statistics, character and academics. Selfishly, I'd like to see Atkinson win it, having met him at last year's Northeast Regional, and also with his being a (now) fellow BC alumnus. Still, 36 goals are hard to ignore - and so are 71 points. It may very well come down to so-called character, which could put Miele in the driver's seat.

The 31st Hobey Baker winner will be revealed on April 8 on ESPNU at 7:00 p.m. EDT. That's one day after the Frozen Four commences in St. Paul with Minnesota-Duluth taking on Notre Dame, and North Dakota facing off against Michigan, both on ESPN2. The national championship game itself, and the final college contest of the 2010-11 campaign, will be televised on April 9 at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.

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