PITTSBURGH (AP) — In a matter of hours, forward Drew LeBlanc of St. Cloud State won the Hobey Baker Award – given to the nation’s top college hockey player – and signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.
LeBlanc, who helped to lead the Huskies to an appearance in the Frozen Four, becomes the first member of the St. Cloud State program to ever win the coveted award.
LeBlanc, a fifth-year senior center, led the nation with 37 assists in 42 games. He scored 13 goals, and finished with 50 points, good for seventh in the nation. He was a two-year captain for the Huskies, who lost to Quinnipiac, 4-1, Thursday in the national semifinals here.
He is a native of Hermantown, Minn., and was named first team all-conference in the WCHA this season.
Hobey Baker was a legendary player at Princeton, and is remembered for redefining the game with end-to-end rushes and no-look passes.
“Well, I think just to be associated with the name Hobey Baker and what he meant to not only college hockey, but the time period in general, how big of a figure he was, just to be associated with that has been pretty special for me,” LeBlanc said. “I’ve said it a bunch of times now, but it doesn’t happen if our team doesn’t have the success that we’ve had this year.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play with a great group of guys and with great people and great leaders. It’s just everything kind of aligned right and found a place for me, and I’m just fortunate to have the opportunity.”
Quinnipiac goaltender Eric Hartzell was also a Hobey Baker finalist, was a key cog in the Bobcats’ run to the title game. Hartzell outshined LeBlanc Thursday night, and Quinnipiac will try to win its first national championship on Saturday at the Consol Energy Center vs. Yale.
But goalies rarely win the award. In fact, the last one to win the Baker was Ryan Miller in 2001. Miller was a standout for Michigan State before graduating to an impressive career with the Buffalo Sabres. He also helped lead Team USA to a silver medal in the Vancouver Olympics.
The previous three Baker winners were also forwards: Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion (2010); Miami, Ohio’s Andy Miele (2011); and Minnesota Duluth’s Jack Connolly (2012).
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