Accompanied by unprecedented ceremony, Minnesota-Duluth forward Jack Connolly was named the 32nd recipient of the Hobey Baker Award on Friday.

Upon hearing his name called, Connolly said he was “very emotional.”

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“Kind of took my breath away,” said Connolly, a native of Duluth, Minn. “I thought I had an outside chance that my name would be called but I wasn’t certain. Just to hear it was pretty much unexplainable. It’s pretty surreal for me.”

Connolly spent four years with the Bulldogs and helped Minnesota-Duluth to the 2011 NCAA championship. This year, Connolly capped his WCHA career by being named the league’s player of the year.

He led all WCHA players in scoring in 2011-12 with 20 goals and 40 assists, was named a All-American for the third straight year and was honored as a WCHA All-Academic selection for the third straight year. In his four years as a Bulldogs player, he never missed a game, dressing for 166 contests.

Connolly, the Bulldogs’ captain, said his transition into a leadership role at Duluth came gradually. “When I came in as a freshman, my coaches gave me an opportunity to step in and be an impact player, play on the second line and the second power-play unit,” he said. “It just kind of grew from there. We lost some guys and spots opened up and I took it upon myself to step up as one of the key guys in our program.”

Connolly was presented with college hockey’s highest individual honor at MacDill Air Force Base in a ceremony that honored the memory of Hobart Amory Hare Baker — the Princeton player for whom the Hobey Baker Award is named — in a very personal way. Baker, a pilot with the 103rd Aero Squadron in World War I, died while test piloting a plane Dec. 21, 1918.

He had been awarded the Croix de Guerre — or Cross of War — by the government of France for military heroism before he died, but he never received the medal.

Friday, Hobey Baker’s Croix de Guerre was presented to his great-great-nephew, Christo Morse, by Rear Adm. Patrick Martin of France. It was an emotional moment for Morse, who grew up playing hockey himself.

“In the last couple of years I started to get involved in some of the Hobey Baker events after hearing from my grandparents and my mom about his life legacy,” said Morse, a filmmaker from Brooklyn. N.Y.

Morse said that Martin and Major Gen. Karl R. Horst, the United States Central Command Chief of Staff, are both fans of Hobey Baker. “They went back in the archives in France and found out that he’d never received the award,” said Morse. “It took a couple guys digging into the archives to find the paperwork. The citation that I received today is from the archives in France. They translated it to English, which is great.

“It’s come a long way and been almost a hundred years now and they were able to give me the award to me today, which is really an honor.”

The unique ceremony led to a day on MacDill Air Force Base for the three Hobey finalists, including Maine forward Spencer Abbott and Colgate forward Austin Smith, both seniors. All three said that the Hobey Hat Trick experience is one they’ll never forget.

“Getting that call and being here is an extraordinary honor,” said Smith. “Happy to be here. The day went by quick. Congrats to Jack Connolly. I thought we were all three pretty good players. I thought we all brought something different to the table.”

“It’s been awesome,” said Abbott. “You never really think that something like this is going to happen to you. To be here with Jack Connolly and Austin Smith, two great players.”

“We hung out all day,” said Connolly. “Two great guys, two great personalities, phenomenal hockey players, obviously. I wish them the best of luck in their pro careers. I think they’re going to be great NHL players.

“It was great to bond with them a little bit and see all the cool things on the Air Force base. Just trying to enjoy the moment, try to enjoy what’s going on, all the festivities. For one day, this was pretty cool. This is a pretty special thing to go through with those guys. Definitely memories that we’ll have for a lifetime.”

Connolly plans to pursue professional opportunities in Europe.

  • Hockey East Rules

    Wow…what a surprise…NOT!  I doubt that anyone in Maine really expected Abbott to win, even though he had the best stats and was most deserving.  Typical of the voters – we wouldn’t want the National Champions AND the Hobey Baker to both come from Hockey East,  LAME!!! 

    • Jason

      Oh they already played the championship game? Dang it I wanted to watch it.

      • Goldie!

        It was a great game, 4-3 triple overtime …

    • Anywhere but East!

      Let’s hope BC is as arrogant as this tool.  Go Ferris State!  Also didn’t realize that the Hobey was supposed to be purely numerical either.  Here I thought it went to the best player…

  • Guest 64

    Congratulation to Jack Connelly!!!  That puts MINNESOTA-DULUTH at 5 winners for the Hobey Baker award. 

    • Duluth

      Too bad you can’t spell his last name. Connolly. 

    • patrickolson

      Yes it does. A much overlooked stat in light of UMD only having one NCAA trophy. Kudos to UMD for turning out that many.

  • Guest

    Most deserving candidate. A model of consistency and pleasure to watch on the ice. One of most deserving people off the ice as well.

  • Nate Bauer

    Why don’t you shut your mouth mr. “hockey east rules”. Jack Connolly is a phenomenal player and human being and is incredibly deserving. And as far as stats go Abbott had ONE more point than Connolly this year. And Connolly had nearly 200 career points, Abbott did not. Jack will put the Hobey right next to his NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP ring. Where’s Abbott’s? 

    • AMDG

       Feelin’ the love that sports brings out in all of us on this excellent Latin Pascha  weekend

    • The Hobey Baker is a reward based on a single year, not a career. Just so you know, dipshit.

    • year or career

       Connolly deserved it, however, I think the LAST YEARS national championship had too much to do with the outcome (in my opinion). Either start with a clean slate at the start of the year or dont, but make it clear one way or the other.  I think Smith had the best SINGLE SEASON out of the three, but cant deny what last year did for Connolly.  I would just prefer the rules are known.  We can now essentially narrow down the candidates for next years award to the returning Juniors in the top 10. 

    • BCChamps

      You might as well just say that Dumoulin or Kreider deserved it more, given that they will both have had more national championships. Duluthers winning it last year was a joke, being lucky to play two teams in a joke regional.

    •  The Hobey Baker isn’t based on career statistics, idiot.

  • Hockey East Rules

    Hey Nate – what part of the Hobey Baker being a YEARLY award and not based on CAREER stats do you not understand?  Abbott’s stats were better this year – period.  Oh yeah, UMD is as out of the playoffs just like Maine…so “no ring this year””, and last years ring and stats shouldn’t count.  Your argument was”Phenomenal” though.

    • Guest 64

      Do your knuckles get sore when they drag on the ground?

    • akfan

      Hobey Baker isn’t based on yearly stats either “Hockey East”. 
      1. Candidates must exhibit strength of character both on and off the ice.   2. Candidates must contribute to the integrity of the team and display outstanding skills in all phases of the game.  3. Consideration should be given to scholastic achievement and sportmanship.   4. Candidates must comply with all NCAA rules: be full time students in an accredited NCAA college or university; and complete 50% or more of the season.Get over it. It went to a great player with integrity on and off the ice and a good gpa. Winning a championship last year speaks to his leadership ability which he surely showed this year as well. 

  • Akula

     Congrats to Jack! He is truly deserving of this award. Hobey Town USA = 5 baby!

  • UMD Alum

    I think both Mr Abbott and Mr Connolly were both deserving. Congratulations to Jack.

    • ECACHockey

      Your post could be interpreted as stating that Smith was not deserving.  I hope that is not the case.

  • Bulldog Guest

    Congratulations to Jack. It was a true to privilege to follow his college career the past four years. There is no doubt that he was in good company in the final three, but i am thrilled that it was Jack who won top honors. It’s a very proud day in Bulldog nation.

  • Tommyd

    Congrats on more indiv. trophies WCHA…we’ll stick with the team trophies for now !

    • Mattgotts

      Makes a lot of sense seeing how 31 by WCHA TEAMS is tops in the Nation!!!! Get a clue

      • BC HE Fan

        Here we go again … “WCHA is the Best” … yada-yada-yada … remind me what WCHA team is playing for the National Championship tomorrow?

        Here’s a question … what happens when WCHA falls apart in 2 years??????

        • BC HE Fan

          And Congratulations to Jack Connelly; he was superb in the Northeast Regionals, when I got to see him play in-person.

          As was Spencer Abbott in HE tourney.

        • Mattgotts

          Then the others will have time to catch up!!

  • Sbrown

    Where’s the love for Austin Smith….36 goals in 39 games….1.46 points/game (the same as Connolly)…..while at the same time…only 13 of Smith’s points came on the man advantage….vs Connolly’s 30…..and for that matter Abbott’s 28.  Smith had 6 shorties and a +24 rating….better than both Connolly and Abbott….is this too much math?

  • Paulclus

    You coneheads out east just don’t get it. Smith from Colgate was a laugher just look at the conference. Abbott from Maine was the closest but you need to look at his scoring against the better teams he played against. It was lacking. Connolly Abbott head to head wasn’t even close. Jack Connolly got my vote.

    • Gate

      Coneheads, laugher….control yourself….please.  ECAC rep’s, Cornell and Union seemed to to do ok in the tourney this year.  With regards to Smith…listen to what Ferris State had to say about him 

      “Austin Smith’s high skill and competition level are a lethal combination. After seeing him first hand this season it is no surprise to me that he is leading the nation in goal scoring.” – Ferris State Head Coach Bob Daniels

    • lack of respect

      you do realize that the strength of schedule between Austin and Jack was about 3 spots (such a tougher road).  The respect that the WCHA and CCHA pay to the ECAC is pathetic, and I dont kow why.  The teams from those conferences rarely come east to play, if the ECAC wants to play they have to come to them.  If our barns are so easy to play in, come play in them.


      • GueSt

        Why play in 2,000 person rink and when you can play in a 8,000+ fan hockey cathedral of the wcha

      • Karl Largen

         You do realize that Maine’s 13th hardest SOS was worth 166.0 points, UMD’s 30th ranked SOS was worth 134.5 points and Colgate’s 38th ranked SOS was worth 87.83.  So yes UMD had a MUCH tougher road. 

    • Bartneally

      Hockey East is solid from top to bottom. What was wrong with co-winners? Connolly’s stats and performance did not surpass Abbotts. Why bother to keep them?

    • Nyquist77

      2 weeks ago  you said you had Smith ranked higher than Abbott??

  • Embellishthisref

    I don’t get why some junior high drop out keeps posting Abbott didn’t score points against good teams…UMlowell, BU, BC and North Dakota all made the NCAA tourney and he scored at least 14 points combined against those teams…we could throw games against Merrimack in there to they were #1 in the country for a short time and he had points against them as well but the others were all in the tourney and he scored 14 points!!! Notice nobody is on here bashing Connely but you have a guy so excited he won that it’s sad!! Congrats to him, but with a few weeks in the season to go some are more worried about who will win the Hobey then their team making the tourney!!! Who won the Hobey in 92 and 93? I only know because they were on my team but ask me a random year and I’ll tell you who won the NCAA championship!! There is a reason the games are on tv and the Hobey is only written in ink, nobody really cares who wins it other then if your school is represented and even then nobody cared 2 days later!! It’s not the heisman and I think hockey should do as football it hand out the award before the tourney, oh and congrats again to Duluth on the new banner in the, oh wait no you don’t get one for a Hobey…who won the basketball player of the year oh yes just like the Hobey it’s not on tv and nobody cares, it’s just a group trying to mimic the heisman which can’t be done!!

    • Guest

      Actually banners for hobey awards are placed in each arena. Those 5 banners are next to the NCAA title.

      •  There aren’t banners for Pellerin’s and Kariya’s Hobey Baker wins, but their numbers (8 and 9 respectively) are retired. Duluth puts banners up for their HB winners?

  • Walleye guy

    The thing you all need to realize is that Jack would surely rather be playing this weekend than receiving this award.  As much as it is an honor, he has always been a team guy. Congrats to all three for their great seasons, and being finalists!

  • 18secondsbeforesunrise

    Congrats to Jack Connolly; well deserved.

    FYI, I’m a UMaine Black Bear fan and obviously was hoping that Abbott would win the Hobey. I also believe that any 1 of the 3 candidates is more than deserving of the award.

    Perhaps we all can now get along now and focus on the National Championship game tonight.


    • Nyquist77

       I agree & am another Maine fan

      Great year for Abbott and Jack C.

      I did not get to see Smith play this year (only some highlights )

      As great a year as Abbott had I think they got it right

      • Bartneally

        2 years in a row a Maine player, with better stats, got passed. Abbott had the better year and this smacks of politics

        • Fan Man

           You need to realize that In NCAA Hockey, Nothing Is Fair!  Diehard Sioux fan here, explain to me how Duncan was the best player when there was………    hush hush    Just the way it works and it not always right I know but that is what your going to see for next 30+ years if we are all lucky enough

          • patrickolson

            If you watched the Sioux-Gopher game they had one of the guys who voted in that panel on and he explained why he chose Duncan ahead of the other two better Sioux players. I don’t remember the explanation very well so I won’t try, but I remember it making sense. Ultimately a Sioux player won so I don’t know what you are complaining about :)

      • I’m another Maine fan and I think the above Maine fans are idiots as well as spineless hippies.  Abbott was robbed.  Just like Nyquist before him!

        • People like you give Maine fans a bad name.

  • Maine rules

    Jackeline Connolly can go cry me a river. What a great lady that player is. Spencer Abbott is way more worthy and a better story. Jackie should go write a song with Justin Timberlake. Also, I wouldn’t boast about her academic accomplishments given that Duluth is a joke school.

    Also, Maine 2 NCs little Minny-Duluther 1.

    • Guest

      Congrats on your NC this year, oh yeah, wait a minute, you didn’t make it past the first game in the regionals… So close though. Who did you lose to again? Minny-Duluther. Good job.

    • icelund

      You stay classy Maine fans.

  • 94eagle

    Congrats to Jack Connolly on the Hobey.  Did Taylor Matson win Mr. Congeniality for his show of sportsmanship on thursday night?
    Let’s go Eagles!  Bring home #5

  • UMDVillage

    Congrats Jack! Yes, we all know he played a major roll in last year’s National Championship year, but the Bulldogs were not expected to be anywhere near as competitive as they ended up being this year and Connolly meant a lot to this 2011-2012 team.

    Also, this reminds me of another classic Hobey race with finalists from UMD and Maine, in 1993 it went to a well-deserving Paul Kariya hailing from Maine and therefore did not go to another well-deserving candidate from UMD that year, Derek Plante. The fact is there are many top notch deserving players from all over college hockey USA and that is a good thing.

    Congrats to the Hobey hat trick on this tremendous honor.

  • Vandy

    Those that disagree with the Connolly choice based on the fact that Abott had one more point is crazy…. Watch the little video that is attached to this story, and the speaker outlines criteria that are factors.   I’m sure all three were outstanding candidates, and meet all of the criteria to varying high degrees…. but you can’t really argue with the choice made.  You may not LIKE it, but there is no difinitive argument against it.
    I applaud the selection, and applaud the other two finalists as well.
    Connolly is very deserving.