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I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought that holiday tournaments have been key opportunities for Hobey Baker candidates to distinguish themselves. With coaches from all across the country involved in the selection process, holiday tournaments offer players exposure to coaches that don’t normally see them, especially when tapes of the games wind up being used for scouting as conference play resumes. I’m not sure how much coaches look at the other team when they break down game footage, but there’s certainly some exposure that  

This was something of an odd year for Hobey contenders in  the holiday tournaments. Two front-runners, Colin Wilson of BU and James vanRiemsdyk of New Hampshire were at the World Juniors – although it’s safe to say that Wilson might have done himself more good at the Denver Cup. Brock Bradford and Boston College skipped the holiday tournament scene in favor of a trip to New Brunswick. 

To some, those are the top three forwards contending for the Hobey – although Air Force’s Jacques Lamoureux might have an opinion about that – and they were all out of Hobey-relevant action. Still, there were several Hobey hopefuls in the holiday tournaments who are worth talking about.

Cornell’s Ben Scrivens has to be viewed as one of the holidays’ big winners, with MVP honors at the Florida College Classic. The Big Red netminder didn’t have his best performances of the season, giving up a pair of goals in both games, but he got the job done, and he now has two wins over WCHA schools this season, which will probably help his cause later on.

When Scrivens did give up a goal against St. Cloud, Garrett Roe had something to do with it, with a goal and an assist in the 3-2 loss to the Big Red. It wasn’t a happy weekend for St. Cloud, though, so I think Roe probably stood pat, possibly helping himself a little. The real story for Roe, though, will be how St. Cloud does in the second half, and whether the Huskies can get that ever-elusive first win in the NCAA tournament.

The Air Force boys took a hard hit with a loss to Quinnipiac in the championship of the Toyota UConn Holiday Classic, although Greg Flynn did find his way onto the all-tournament team. Really, though, the Falcons made their big non-conference statement against Colorado College, and now, it’s a question of whether Flynn and Jacques Lamoureux can keep up their scoring pace over the rest of the Atlantic Hockey season. I’d say that one of the two is a likely Hobey finalist at the Falcons’ current pace, more likely Lamoureux.

It sounds like a boring couple of weekends, Hobey-wise, and unfortunately, that’s what it was, but there are a couple of big winners worth mentioning. One is Matt Gilroy of BU, who was the MVP of the Denver Cup with the game-winning goal in the championship game over Denver. Gilroy doesn’t exactly have eye-popping numbers, but he’s about where he was in the last couple of years, when he’s been an All-American, and this year, he’s the co-captain of a Terriers squad that looks like it has the potential to go deep in the postseason. He’s also a player who’s turned down many, many pro offers to stay in school for his senior year, and in these times, that certainly helps his cause. I don’t think Gilroy’s teammate Colin Wilson has to worry about competition from his captain, but I can certainly see a Hobey finalist berth in Gilroy’s future if he continues to produce at his pace and lead in his own zone.

The other holiday winner is Quinnipiac’s Bryan Leitch, who handed out five assists en route to MVP honors at the UConn tournament, and has tacked on four goals and an assist in wins over Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend to take the national scoring lead. The one thing I’d say is that 23 of Leitch’s 31 points are assists, so he’d probably have a better case as a Hobey contender if he were on the blueline. Then again, the Brian Leetch comparisons would just be too much.

Bad jokes aside, Leitch and Gilroy are definitely worth keeping an eye on in the second half.

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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).