Since many readers of our Too Many Men site are new to college hockey, I plan on giving them a Hobey watch list that feature guys that everyone knows about (i.e. Gustav Nyquist, Cam Atkinson, etc.). This leaves the darkhorses for you guys. Now, as you’ll see with my first candidate, some of these guys (and probably all of them) will be players that the college hockey fan will know, but they are all players who, for one reason or another, are on the backburner for Hobey consideration.
1. Chay Genoway, D, North Dakota
Genoway was cruising along last year, with 4 goals and 10 points in his first 9 games before receiving a season ending hit from St. Cloud’s Aaron Marvin. Genoway will once again likely be the driving force on the power play for the Fighting Sioux and he looks to have all of the qualities voters look for in a Hobey winner (especially defenseman): he’ll be at least a point per game scorer, he’ll play on a very good team (and one that won’t allow many goals as he is joined by great defensemen like Ben Blood, Andrew MacWilliam, Derrick LaPoint and Derek Forbort), and he has shown the off ice character to come back from a terrible injury.
2. Denny Kearney, F, Yale
Although Yale returns both Brian O’Neill and Broc Little, I like Kearney’s chances to win the Hobey just as much. He had 12 goals and 37 points in 35 games last year for the nation’s highest scoring offense, and Kearney has a knack for scoring big goals. He scored two of them in Yale’s 1st round NCAA tournament win over North Dakota last year, and had a big assist in the Ivy clinching win over Cornell last year. Kearney looks to step into the leadership role for the Bulldogs and, assuming Yale will be a Frozen Four contender, Kearney will get a boost from playing for a good team and with a good offensive unit.
fun fact: Kearney’s sister is Hannah Kearney, who won a gold medal in moguls at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
3. Mike Lee, G, St. Cloud
The Huskies have been a prolific offensive team in the past, but this year the Huskies might have to lean a bit more on their defense. Lee shared time with Dan Dunn last year, but still posted the 2nd best save percentage in the WCHA with a .917 mark. Losing defenseman Garrett Raboin hurts, but this Husky D corps isn’t built to score goals, it’s built to keep the puck out of the net. That could drive Lee’s save percentage even higher. Sharing time with Dan Dunn might hurt his candidacy, but Cody Reichard was a viable candidate last year even with Connor Knapp posting great numbers as well. If Dunn has a couple of off starts it could highlight Lee’s numbers even more.
4. Andy Taranto, Alaska
The Nanooks made their first NCAA trip last year, driven by Taranto. Taranto led the CCHA in Freshman scoring last year with 18 goals and 42 points in 39 games. Even with Taranto’s nice play, Alaska was 8th in the CCHA in scoring at just 2.77 goals per game. This could work either way. On one hand, it will be a lot tougher for Taranto to rack up assists if he doesn’t have reliable teammates to score goals. But if he has a big year anyways, and carries an otherwise low scoring team into the NCAA tournament, voters will take notice. Also helping Taranto’s cause will be if the voters recognize how hard it is to score goals in the CCHA.
5. Cory Conacher, F, Canisius
Every year a smaller conference team will have someone on the Hobey top 10 (except for this past season) and while Jacques Lamoureux is the more obvious choice, Conacher has a shot. The Senior has gone from 7 goals as a Freshman, to 12 as a Sophomore and 20 in his recently completed Junior season. Canisius was the 9th ranked scoring offense last year, and Conacher led them in both goals and points (20-53). Conacher’s 1.51 pts per game last year were 2nd in the country behind only Maine’s Gustav Nyquist.
Canisius and Conacher will benefit from Robert Morris and Niagara joining the conference. Niagara was 43rd in scoring defense and Robert Morris was 49th last year. With the losses at RIT and Air Force, Canisius looks like they could sneak an NCAA bid out of Atlantic Hockey, and if they do expect to see Cory Conacher’s name on the Hobey top 10 list.
And as for the off ice part of it? Conacher is an academic all conference performer, and, oh yeah, Conacher happens to suffer from Type 1 diabetes. There’s no question who I’m rooting for this year.