Three BCHL graduates have been announced as top-10 finalists for the 2019 Hobey Baker Award, the NCAA announced today. Two Salmon Arm Silverbacks alums, Michigan State University forward Taro Hirose and Quinnipiac University defenceman Chase Priskie, made the top-10, while St. Cloud State University forward and former Penticton Vee Patrick Newell is also up for the award, given to the best player in NCAA hockey.
Hirose, a Calgary, Alta. native, led the entire NCAA in scoring with 51 points in 36 games. His 36 assists were also tops in the Big Ten conference. He led Michigan State with a +15 rating, while three of his 15 goals came on the power play and two were game-winners. The 22-year-old spent two seasons in the BCHL playing for the Silverbacks from 2014 to 2016 where he put up 121 points in 116 regular-season games. After the Spartans lost to Notre Dame in the conference quarterfinals earlier this month, Hirose signed an entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings and recorded an assist in his first NHL game.
The 22-year-old Priskie has been an offensive force for the Bobcats throughout his four-year college career and this year was no different, as he piled up 39 points (17 goals, 22 assists) in 34 games, good enough for second-most on his team. This year, the Washington Capitals 2016 sixth-round draft pick became known for his play on the defensive side as well, blocking 33 shots and leading a Quinnipiac penalty kill that operated at an 87 per cent rate. He was also named an ECAC First-Team All-Star, making it the fourth year in a row he was recognized on a year-end all-conference team. Priskie, from Pembroke Pines, Fla., played the 2014-15 season in Salmon Arm where he totaled 20 points in 57 games.
Newell captured the NCHC scoring title, leading the conference with both 13 goals and 28 points in 24 conference games, while his 15 assists tied for fourth in the conference. A two-time NCHC Offensive Player of the Week and February Player of the Month, Newell was an NCHC-best plus-18 in conference play and fired 75 shots on goal, which was third in the conference. The 23-year-old from Thousand Oaks, Calif. played the 2014-15 season with the Vees where he led the team in scoring with 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 56 games. He also added 14 points in 22 playoff games, helping the Vees win the Fred Page Cup and leading them to an appearance in the RBC Cup semifinals.
Other notable finalists for the award include University of Michigan defenceman and Vancouver Canucks prospect Quinn Hughes, Colorado Avalanche 2017 fourth-overall pick and UMass-Amherst blueliner Cale Makar as well as Harvard University defenceman and Carolina Hurricanes third-round pick Adam Fox.
The Hat Trick of three finalists will be announced on Apr. 4 and the winner will be decided on Apr. 12 in Buffalo, N.Y. during the NCAA Frozen Four.