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Well, here we go.

By the end of the day, we’ll know the 10 players who have earned the status of finalist for the 2008 Hobey Baker Memorial Award. For the first time, we’ll have some concrete answers after all of the pontificating that tends to happen around this award, not to mention the snazzy highlight video that the Hobey folks put together. 

Of course, there’s a few names that we already know. Michigan’s Kevin Porter, the likely winner, obviously has one of the ten spots, and while it’s unsure what combination of Boston College’s Nathan Gerbe, North Dakota’s Jean-Philippe Lamoureux, and Miami’s Ryan Jones will join him in the Hobey Hat Trick, all three are locks as finalists. So, that’s four, right off the bat.

Of course, Lamoureux will not be the only goalie, in all likelihood. However, after taking more time to think on it, I don’t think the 2008 finalists will match the 2005 group with its four goaltenders. I’m going to say three here, as Lamoureux will be joined by Colorado College freshman Richard Bachman and Miami junior Jeff Zatkoff.

In a year where first-round draft picks like Wisconsin’s Kyle Turris and New Hampshire’s James vanRiemsdyk were all the talk in the incoming freshman class, Bachman has made the biggest impact of any first-year player in the nation, turning aposition of uncertainty for the Tigers into a major strength. In a funny coincidence, Bachman is a draft pick of the Dallas Stars, who currently have CC’s last Hobey Baker winner, Marty Sertich, in their system. Of course, Bachman’s not a winner this year, but if the Stars show some patience, who knows? His remarkable freshman campaign may just be the beginning.

 Zatkoff, meanwhile, has been a model of consistency for the the RedHawks. In 32 games this season, Zatkoff has given up more than two goals just five times. In the business, that’s what’s known as “giving your team a chance to win every night,” and it’s what Zatkoff does. Given that Zatkoff had not had to play back-to-back nights for most of his career until this point, the fact that he’s been so consistent for Miami this season is even more impressive, and I think that stablilty will be rewarded with a finalist nod.

Of course, that will leave some fine netminders on the outside looking in, most notably Kevin Regan of New Hampshire and Billy Sauer of Michigan. Sauer may well be the nation’s most improved player, but I think the Michigan-friendly votes are going to be spread fairly thin (see below), and the fact that Sauer wasn’t even one of Michigan’s own selections for the fan voting says something here. Regan, for his part, has long been underappreciated at New Hampshire, and while he’s a stable backbone to a well-balanced New Hampshire team, I don’t think that he’ll get the recognition that he may well deserve.

So, that’s seven finalists, with three to go. Who will those three be? I’m looking at Michigan’s Chad Kolarik, St. Cloud’s Ryan Lasch, and Boston University’s Peter MacArthur to round out the top 10. Kolarik’s work with Porter on and off the ice has been the difference between a No. 4 finish in the CCHA and the nation’s No. 1 ranking. Lasch has produced a 50-point season and helped lead St. Cloud back to a likely NCAA tournament berth as a sophomore. MacArthur, meanwhile, has emerged as an outstanding leader for the Terriers, particularly sicne being named captain in December, and delivered in the clutch for BU with two goals in each of the Terriers’ Hockey East playoff wins this past weekend.

Now, this is what I think, but there are two other possibilities that wouldn’t particularly surprise me. Bryan Marshall didn’t make my list because of where Nebraska-Omaha finished in the CCHA, but his numbers certainly speak for themselves. I could see him beating out Lasch or Kolarik for one of the last three spots. Also, Regan may beat out MacArthur for a finalist nod out of Hockey East.

From there, well, it remains to be seen.

 EDIT: Silly me, I double-counted Lamoureux. Let’s go with Regan in the last spot, making it four goalies after all. New Hampshire played a strong non-conference schedule this year, with two games each against North Dakota and Colorado College, exposing Regan to voters in other areas.

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Elliot Olshansky covers the Hobey Baker Award beat for USCHO.com and also covers men’s and women's hockey and lacrosse at NCAA.com for Turner Sports. His experience includes four years covering college hockey for CSTV, stints at other media outlets including the New York Daily News and Spike TV, and freelance writing. His debut novel, "Robert's Rules of Karaoke," is currently available from The Write Deal (www.thewritedeal.org).
  • derrick hansen

    unless they changed the name of the macnaughton cup, it would actually be und’s 15th time winning….

    • Sioux_Hockey_2011

      If the Sioux Play Tech in the 1st round it will be Sioux in 2 because the Huskies eat Pooh….LOL

      3 years later…I’m back!!

    • Anonymous

      It would be the 12th not 15th MacNaughton Cup. In actuality it’s the 14th time UND won the regular season title. Because MTU left the WCHA from 82-84 and took the MacNaughton Cup with them to the CCHA.

  • FS23

    It would be North Dakota’s 15th WCHA Champioinship, but there were a few years that the MacNaughton was given out to the WCHA Playoff Champion (1962-1965), and from the 1981-1982 season through 1983-1984 Michigan Tech took the MacNaughton with it while it played in the CCHA. Since the Sioux won WCHA titles in 62-63, 64-65 and 81-82 they didn’t receive the MacNaughton for winning the WCHA. That is how they are getting at 12 MacNaughtons. Even still, if the Sioux win the WCHA this year, they will have won their conference more than any other team in college hockey history has won its conference.

    • Anonymous

      The MacNaughton Cup has been in the WCHA since 1951, and UND won their first one in 1958.

      edit: Denver has the most MacNaughton Cups (13) UND has (11). So I see why Tyler said it’s the 12th MacNaughton Cup. From what I found, I see that UND has been the WCHA regular season champs 14 times. The 2000 season I guess UW and UND both won the MacNaughton Cup, but UND was not awarded it. Which would make it 14 regular season championships and 12 MacNaughton Cups. After looking around at past MacNaughton Cup winners. There was time (from 62-65) that the MacNaughton Cup was awarded to the WCHA playoff champs.

      • UND finished in second in the WCHA standings but won the Final Five.

        • Anonymous

          Then when did they get the 14th WCHA regular season title?

          • The man to ask is @UNDSID he would definitely know.

  • derrick

    yeah baby!!!!! look out fan forum! :)

  • Stickboy56

    UMinn will have a tough time advancing in the PWR with their remaining schedule.

    Wins over BSU and MTU will not likely flip the needed comparisons to move up – neither will first round wins over UAA.

    I predict they will need to win 2 games at the F5 to have a chance at the NCAA

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, UMinn needs alot of help in the PWR. I can see them loosing to BSU. If they get UAA in the first round, UAA showed they can beat UMinn.

  • Ryan

    When was the last time the MacNaughton Cup champ actually went on to make it to the Frozen 4? Kind of crazy.

    • Anonymous

      2005 Denver and they won the national title.

  • Mattgersz

    What the #$*%&$. The Sioux “IS” unbeaten in the five games since……The Sioux “IS” still ranked second in the Pairwise…..The Sioux HAS lost just once in Houghton…….Since when did The Sioux become a singular entity? The Sioux ARE many players, and they ARE Number 1.

    • JMF

      I’m no English major but he is referring to the team not the players. He essentially said the team is undefeated and the team has lost just once etc. Seems accurate to me, just sounds off he used the word Sioux, if he used UND is would read better.

  • bigskyvikes

    Can someone from the WCHA or a writer from WCHA tell me why when the Sioux win titles or trophy’s they are NOT on the WCHA final five tickets the following year? But when any other team wins it they are on the tickets the following year? Just curious on that! GO SIOUX!! By the way the Sioux have more WCHA championships than anyone! There is no argument there AT ALL!!

  • Anonymous

    North Dakota may end up with the cup, but I promise you, it is UNO fan’s fervent desire to play them again in the WCHA tournament, or, better still, in the NCAA Regional. Hopefully either in Green Bay but preferably in St Louis. Having seen all 4 games between the two teams it reminded me of heavy-weight fighters beating each others brains out. Split in each building that featured UNO shutting ND out in one of those games (the only other team that’s done that is DU) and UNO hanging the worst beating, ever, on ND at the Ralph. And, ND staged a beautiful comeback in Omaha in tough conditions in front of a humongous, seriously hostile crowd in what was a titanic struggle of a game for both teams. The best UNO game I have ever attended (out of more than 150), and we LOST the game.

    I respect ND enormously, the best opposing team I saw all season.

    That said, we are more than ready to step back in the ring with them. Hoping that we do. We need a rubber game.

    I think they might like to, too. ND fan was very respectful of us as well. I can’t begin to tell you how many of their fans approached me and said things like “Wow, you guys are really pretty good”. Dunno if they were blowing smoke, but, I appreciated it. UNO hasn’t gotten that many accolades for switching leagues and being a serious factor right out of the box like they have.

    Bring on the post season.

    • Beavers

      UNO just better hope they don’t get matched up with BSU in the first round. We all know what would happen then … A Bemidji State victory! They own UNO this year.

      • Anonymous

        I think some teams just match up well with/against others for whatever reason Concerns me, too, as far as BSU is concerned.

        Truthfully, ND looked so good against us and had such poor results that I came away thinking the same thing about them against us at various times during the 4 games they played against each other.

    • Matt

      Two words that came from North Dakota…Dean Blais. :-)

    • You might want to be careful what you ask for.

    • FightinSioux4ever

      Well said. I was at the Ralph for that Friday night game, and I was a believer of UNO before that happened. We got worked. I still hae to stick to my guns and say that UND will be ready for all comers once the FF is underway. Also, it was nice to see the reception Blais got when he was announced right before the game. Him being the coach was enough to sell me on the program. Class act all the way.

  • MN Hockey

    Is it me, or does this writer seem like he’s hating on the Sioux? Fckin Haters

    • Guest

      The writer writes an article about UND winning before it happens and you think he is hating on the Sioux. Very interesting … wow!

  • siouxfanforlife

    I am a huge Sioux fan, and the only thing I would love to see more than winning the conference would be MAYBE winning the WCHA tournament, but for sure the National Championship. However, Tech proved this weekend that you never know what will happen, and Bemidji can still be very competitive when they show up, so I’m not assuming anything until it is over.

    • Amen… Lets get 8…

  • Siouxdog

    As some have mentioned, North Dakota has 14 WCHA regular season banners hanging in the Ralph already. So this would be the 15th. So a couple of them must not have been winning the McNaughton Cup. Whatever you want to call it, Fiighting Sioux have the most WCHA titles with 14 going on 15 this year. I believe Denver is second.

  • SiouxForever

    It was hard to focus on the article when the grammar was so bad. Subject and verb did not agree. GO SIOUX!!! #8!!!!

  • MN Hockey

    Okay, “Beavers”, I should have stated that a different way.. This guy says how they have an easy schedule coming up, but what he fails to mention is that UND has had the hardest schedule in the NCAA this season, and the fact that Bemidji is a contender against any team. As for Michigan Tech, well they proved they can beat a contender in Denver.