The Hobey Baker Award Committee named their three finalists for the 2023 Hobey Baker Memorial Award on Thursday morning and a pair of Gophers are on the list. The Hobey Hat Trick consists of Minnesota Gophers freshman Logan Cooley, Gophers sophomore Mathew Knies, and Michigan Wolverines freshman Adam Fantilli. All three players will be in the Frozen Four in Tampa, Florida next week playing in the semifinals on Thursday with the Hobey Baker awarded on Friday.
Cooley has been one of the two best freshmen in the country this season along with Fantilli. The #3 overall pick in last season’s NHL draft by the Arizona Coyotes, Cooley leads the Gophers with 57 points, which ranks second nationally and fifth in single-season program history for a first-year player. He also leads the nation in assists with 37 and a +37 rating. This season Cooley has already earned All-Big Ten First Team and All-Big Ten Freshman Team honors and he was named to both the B1G All-Tournament Team and the NCAA Fargo Regional All-Tournament Team in the postseason. He currently has the nation’s longest point streak at 15 games and has six game-winning goals which rank him third in the nation.
Knies is coming off a regular season where he was named the 2022-23 Big Ten Conference Player of the Year and an All-Big Ten First Team honoree. He leads the country with seven game-winning goals, and is the only player in Gophers’ history with three overtime goals in one season. He leads the Gophers with 21 goals on the season. Knies has tallied six power-play goals and has Minnesota’s only two shorthanded goals of the season, one of only four NCAA players to perform that feat.
Minnesota is just the third team since the Hobey Baker selection process moved to this format in 2002 to have two of the three Hat Trick Finalists joining Colorado College in 2005 and Boston University in 2009. In both those seasons one of the players from the school DID win the award alleviating concerns that the vote could be split between the pair of teammates allowing the third candidate to win. If either of the Gophers would win the award they would be the fifth in program history and the first since 2002. They would add their names to a list that currently includes Jordan Leopold, Brian Bonin, Robb Stauber, and Neal Broten.
Since 2002 when the Hobey Hat Trick format started the Gophers have had only two players make the final three nominees. Leopold won the award in 2002 and Ben Meyers was one of the three finalists last season but would lose out on the award to Minnesota State goalie Dryden McKay.
A 30-member selection committee made up of coaches, supervisors of officials, media, and NHL scouts, along with a round of fan balloting determined this year’s Hobey Baker winner, which will be announced April 7 live on the NHL Network and streamed on the Hobey Baker website at 5:00 p.m. The Hobey Hat Trick consists of the top three vote getters from this committee. Criteria for the award are displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.
Lets hope The Gophers will need to make room for two trophies coming home next weekend from Tampa.