Anyone who’s been reading this blog over the past three seasons knows the familiar refrain that comes up whenever a goalie is thought to be in the mix for the Hobey.

“Ryan Miller numbers.”

.950 save percentage, 1.32 goals-against average. A tough standard to live up to.

Dave LeNeveu had the GAA and then some (1.20), but the save percentage wasn’t quite there (.940 in that Cornell system that Big Red goalies seem to be penalized for, but we’ll get back to that when a Cornell goalie is in the mix). Brian Elliott backstopped Wisconsin to an NCAA Championship, but Matt Carle skated off with the Hobey. Dave Brown was in the conversation all season long in 2006-07, but Ryan Duncan got it. Dave McKee, Yann Danis, Brad Thiessen…you know the story.

No Ryan Miller numbers, no Hobey.

So of course, when I covered the Rangers-Sabres game on Tuesday night as part of a New York Hockey Journal story I’m working on, I had to get a word with the former Michigan State Spartan about those magical numbers that made him the last goalie to win the Hobey Baker.

“Minus the fact that we didn’t win a national championship,” Miller said, “that was pretty much a fairytale season. We had a great team, and everything seemed to go right except right at the end there.”

As you might expect, Miller has been too busy with the Sabres to keep tabs on exactly how things have been going in the college ranks lately as it concerns his netminding brethren. However, he did say that he doesn’t think it should take a reprise of (or improvement on) his 2001-02 stats to get a goalie the top individual honor in the college game.

“They look at number of goals and assists [for forwards],” Miller said, “but they also talk about who you play against. It comes down to more than just those stats. I think if you factor in the goalies playing against really strong competition, and you can take a team really far in the NCAA tournament, I think you have a goalie who deserves top billing.”

If you really want to read into that, “Really strong competition” could be seen as a dig at the Cornell guys, but I don’t think Miller was really thinking about it that much (and besides, ECAC Hockey is having quite a year, with Yale, Union, RPI and Dartmouth all in the mix for NCAA berths). I will say that I don’t think the next goalie to win the Hobey will come from Atlantic Hockey (sorry, Shane Madolora), but depending on the year, I think another goalie will hoist the Hobey sooner or later, “Ryan Miller numbers” or not.

Probably not this year, though, although I do think that Dartmouth’s James Mello, RPI’s Allen York, Merrimack’s Joe Cannata and Boston College’s John Muse are all worthy of consideration for finalist berths, with one of them getting a spot in the Hobey Hat Trick (and really, with Muse having a good shot at a third NCAA title in four years, he should get a long look).

What do you think? You think Miller has a point about his numbers not being a requirement for future Hobey-winning goalies? Who’s the most Hobey-worthy goaltender on the college ice this season? Leave your thoughts below.

  • fargosioux

    Panzer was robbed!

  • Juice09

    A little shocked with the mention of Mello and York, but not Kinkaid. Kinkaid only leads NCAA with a 1.93 GAA and has a .923 save percentage. Just wait til he hits center stage during the NCAA tourney.

  • Juice09

    A little shocked with the mention of Mello and York, but not Kinkaid. Kinkaid only leads NCAA with a 1.93 GAA and has a .923 save percentage. Just wait until he hits center stage during the NCAA tourney.

    • HENH10

      The 1.93 is good enough, but .923 probably isn’t good enough… although they are great numbers.

    • Dan1377

      I agree wholeheartedly. Even though Kinkaid’s numbers aren’t on par with “Ryan Miller Numbers,” for a team that just won the league’s regular season after 14-1-1 of recent ECAC play, he backed them up incredibly the entire way. He at least deserves a mention, if not more extensive consideration.

  • Just Saying

    I did a little research on the goalies. I looked at all league games that Kinkaid, Mello and Rondeau have played since the new year, since these games are considered “crunch time” games. Kinkaid was 14-1-1 and gave up 29 goals. Mello was 7-6-1 and gave up 31 goals and Rondeau was 10-3-1 and gave up 29. goals.

  • Shedd

    Anyone who has seen York play this year knows that he should be in the conversation. He’s been at the top of the list for goaltender’s stats all season, and while he might not be as good as Kinkaid, his SV% is better than everyone above him in the GAA list. I think that’s a testament to how good he’s made RPI’s defense look.

  • rpifan

    I’ve watched Kinkaid and York play a whole lot, and York is a significantly better goalie and prospect. He has better control of rebounds, makes more astounding saves, plays the puck extremely well, and has kept RPI in a lot of games they should have lost. Kinkaid is on a higher scoring team and quite frankly, Union has a more consistent defense than rpi’s which has been up, down, and injured all season. Forget numbers, just watch them both play and its pretty obvious that York is the better goalie

    • The Black Hole

      From a guy named RPIFAN? Seriously?

  • NefariousDrO

    I’d say that the key thing is: Can player-X change the game? Ryan Miller, and for that matter all of the Hoby candidates need to fit under that bar, more than just their numbers.