Three Canisius hockey players have been named candidates for the 2020 Hobey Baker award, foundation officials announced January 16.
Seniors Matt Hoover, Nick Hutchison, and Matt Stief are three of 79 players who were nominated for phase one of the award process.
The Hobey Baker Award is given out each year to the top NCAA men’s ice hockey player in the nation. In addition to their play on the ice, the candidates must exhibit character and strength off the ice, contribute to the integrity of their team, and display outstanding skills in all phases of the game and show scholastic achievement and sportsmanship.
“I think they deserve it. Across the country, lots of players get nominated. It means something, it absolutely means something,” head coach Trevor Large said. “They check all the boxes, they’re different people, they’re different players, but they’re all high end in both areas and I’m extremely proud of all three of them.”
Hutchinson leads the team with 13 goals and is tied with captain Hoover for the team lead in scoring, with both players having 20 points on the year. The Hicksville, N.Y., native has the fifth-most goals in the Atlantic Hockey this season. Hutchinson is fourth overall in the NCAA in goals per game, with a .76 average, even with being out a month due to injury.
“I think it just goes to say, Hoover, Stief, and myself come to work every day to try and be the best we can be on and off the ice so it’s nice to get some recognition for that,” Hutchinson said.
A native of Brantford, Ont., Hoover is second in assists on the team and is tied for sixth in the Atlantic hockey with 13 assists. Last weekend, Hoover’s career-long eight-game point streak came to an end when Hoover was unable to record a point in the 5-2 win over Sacred Heart last Saturday. The forward also finds him ranked among the league leaders in both power-play goals (five/T-2nd) and points (11/3rd).
“It feels great, anytime you get nominated for an award like that it’s great but I don’t think any of this happens without the success of the team in the past four weeks, we’ve had a great last month.”
Stief is enjoying a career year in his final season in Blue and Gold as he paces Canisius with 17 assists and is second on the squad with 19 points, surpassing his previous career-high of 14 set a season ago. The Weston, Fla. native has produced very well on the powerplay, 16 of his 19 points have come during the man advantage. He has the third-most among Division I players this season. Stief ranks third in Atlantic Hockey in assists (16) and is sixth in league scoring with 17 points.
The first phase of fan balloting runs now through March 8. Following the conclusion of Phase I, the list of players will be narrowed to a Top-10. The Hobey Baker Memorial Award will be presented to the winner on April 10, 2020, during the NCAA Frozen Four Championship in Detroit, MI.