Monday, April 02, 2007

Olshansky Backs Ehn For Hobey Baker Award

From: Rink Rat Blog (CSTV.com)

by Elliott Olshansky


Well, we're still not perfect at the Hobey Watch, but we're working on it.

The Hobey Hat Trick for 2007 has been announced, and it will be David Brown of Notre Dame, Ryan Duncan of North Dakota and Eric Ehn of Air Force on Friday night, April 6, in St. Louis.

That's a little different from what our final Hobey Watch of 2007 projected, and certainly different than what I voted in the Hobey Watch. A lot of it is different, but it still makes sense...

First of all, here's my last Hobey Watch ballot.

1. Eric Ehn
2. T.J. Hensick
3. John Curry

And of course, the Hobey Watch's "Hat Trick" was...
1. David Brown
2. T.J. Hensick
3. Ryan Duncan.

OK, now let's go through the Hat Trick that we did get.

I'll start with the ones I didn't vote for.

David Brown: I always had a feeling that David Brown would be in the Hat Trick. The truth is that he's won the games when he's had to, with the notable exception of the Midwest Regional Final. Of course, he hasn't always had to, which speaks to how well the Irish played defense under Jeff Jackson this season, but I never thought it spoke too well for his Hobey candidacy. Obviously, I was relatively alone in that assessment, but I don't find that surprising. To be honest, I'm more surprised by what I wasn't alone on.

Ryan Duncan: Duncan made my list for the first time after I watched him at the Final Five, but he wasn't in my top three this week. I really can't point to too many reasons why not, other than the people I did have on there. That's really what it comes down to with this Hobey business: you can always ask "why not" one guy, but the question you should be prepared to answer is, "Well, who would you take out?" I certainly can't question Duncan's credentials, especially since he's the only Hobey Finalist who's still playing.

Now, about the one I did have...

Eric Ehn: I'm stunned. Absolutely stunned. I had plenty of reasons why Eric Ehn should be a Hobey Hat Trick member. I just didn't see those reasons coming into play. I suppose some of it had to do with Jordan Sigalet's run as a Hobey finalist in 2005, which stopped at the finalist level. However, as I've pointed out in the past, the parallel with Hobey Baker, a World War I fighter pilot, is very compelling. The other big thing, a point that I first saw raised by my CSTV colleague Dave Starman, is how much more difficult academy life is than that of a typical student-athlete. For Ehn to be able to handle that and be a 60-point scorer is exceedingly impressive.

That leaves the two who didn't make it: T.J. Hensick and John Curry.

I'm just as surprised by Hensick's exclusion as I am by Ehn's inclusion. Really, when do you see a senior who's leading the nation in scoring wind up out of the Hat Trick? I guess the 10-minute misconduct that kept him out of action down the stretch in the North Dakota game really hurt him. I don't know if he'd have won if not for that, but I have to imagine it kept him out of the top three.

As for Curry, I thought he had a magical story in going from walk-on to Hockey East Player of the Year, and he still does. I think the way BU struggled down the stretch really hurt Curry. This may not be a team award, but Curry's candidacy was built on stealing games for BC. When that stopped happening, I think Curry wound up closer to Jeff Jakaitis to Brian Elliott. No disrespect to Jakaitis, who certainly has a bright future ahead of him, but goalies whose teams don't win have a hard time getting Hobey consideration, no matter how good their numbers are.

So, all of that said, who will win? I have to be honest: I don't know. Besides, even if I said I knew, would you believe me after I only got one of the three Hat Trick members right? Still, I'll take a stab at it.
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Ehn has the numbers and the intangibles, but he doesn't play in a powerful conference. Then again, I thought that would keep him from getting this far, and clearly, it didn't. I've said all along that Eric is the ideal candidate to receive an award named for Hobey Baker. Obviously, there are people who agree up to a certain point. Who am I to say where that point is or isn't?
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Brown has been a leader on his team in a banner year, but his numbers don't stack up to other goalies who have been up for (and in Ryan Miller's case won) the Hobey in recent years. I mean, really, what do you say to Brian Elliott and David McKee if David Brown was to win the Hobey with numbers that don't come close to theirs, beating out T.J. Hensick in the process?
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That leaves Duncan, who probably has the least going against him out of anyone. He plays on a line with two first-round draft picks, which could work against him. Other than that, though, it's nearly impossible to make the case against Ryan Duncan. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2007 Hobey Baker Winner...Ryan Duncan!

Maybe.

After all, if there's one thing we've learned from this, even if there's nothing wrong with you, there could be more right with someone else.

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