Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hobey Polacek Revisited

The chants have returned. "Ho-bey Ba-ker!" reverberated around the sold-out Houston Field House last weekend as Chase Polacek scored his 150th point as an Engineer with a power play goal to give RPI a 4-1 lead over #1 Yale in the Big Red Freakout! on Saturday. It was his fifth consecutive game with a goal, and helped increase the winning streak to... five. Coincidence?

About this time last year, I wrote about Polacek's potential candidacy for the Hobey Baker Award and figured that he'd make the list of 10 finalists, but would go no further than that, and that turned out to be what happened.

This year, things are a little bit different. This time, I could see Chase as the Hobey Baker winner - assuming, of course, that he continues to play the way he's been playing for the next month and a half.

What's the difference from this year to last year? A lot of the things I spoke about last year have changed. Last year, I noted that only three members of non-NCAA tournament teams have won the Hobey. That's still true, but unlike last year, RPI is well positioned for an NCAA tournament berth.

I noted the difficulty of an ECAC player winning the award. Still true - but you'd have to have your head in the sand not to notice the incredible season the league is having, with five teams currently ranked in the top 20. That mitigates things a little bit.

But first and foremost, as good of a season as Polacek was having last year, he's practically surpassing that this year, and without the "assistance" of Brandon Pirri and Jerry D'Amigo, who some posited were opening up the opportunities for Chase. Some scoffed before the season started when Seth Appert said that it was Chase who made Brandon and Jerry go, not the other way around. Chase had 1.33 points per game at the end of last season. As of right now, he's scoring at 1.50 points per game this season. Certainly looks like Appert was telling the truth, doesn't it?

He's also the only returning finalist putting up better numbers than last year. Maine's Gustav Nyquist is the only other finalist from last year still playing college hockey, and his numbers, while still pretty outstanding, are off from last year when he led the nation in scoring and still did not claim the Hobey. This season, Nyquist has only six goals in 24 games as opposed to 19 in 39 last year, and while he made most of his points off of assists last year as well, is off the pace with 22 assists in 24 games where he had 42 in 39 last season.

This isn't to say that Chase is a shoo-in for the Hobey or even the Hobey Hat Trick. But as compared to last season, he is much better positioned to contend for the actual award rather than merely being honored as a Finalist (and eventually, a First Team All-American). I'll break down the Hobey race later this month.

What about Allen York, you ask? Yes, Allen is having a tremendous year, but that isn't enough when you're a goaltender. Fair or not, you have to have more than just a sensational season between the pipes to claim the Hobey Baker, you have to be head and shoulders above every other goaltender. That, unfortunately, is not the case with Allen. He may have an outside shot at being a finalist (which would be truly unique, as RPI, to my knowledge, has never had two Hobey finalists in the same year), but that's about as far as it'll go unless he somehow begins some epic shutout streak or something along those lines to really bring attention to himself.

Regardless, you should take the time to visit the Hobey Baker site and help stuff the ballot box for Chase and Allen. Does it mean anything? Eh, not really. But maybe it'll get some casual observers to take a second look at the men of Troy.

1 comment:

  1. I think its fairly obvious that someone has stuffed the ballot, with over 139000 votes total and chase and allen even with 19% (over 25000 votes each). while very nice thought i think this will just lead them to invalidate the whole vote.

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