(St. Paul, Minn. – March 29, 2012) Austin Smith, who led the nation in goals with 36, became the first-ever Colgate hockey player to be selected as a top-three finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the nation’s top player.
The former Colgate forward, who is now playing for the Texas Stars in the American Hockey League, is the first ECAC Hockey player chosen for the Hobey Hat Trick since Cornell netminder David McKee in 2005. Smith is joined by Minnesota-Duluth senior Jack Connolly and Maine’s Spencer Abbott as top-three finalists. He was the seventh top-10 finalist from Colgate in the history of the hockey program and the fourth under head coach Don Vaughan.
“I am very excited for Austin and could not be happier for him,” said Vaughan. “This is wonderful recognition for a great college hockey player who played at small school like Colgate. It’s great for our university, our hockey program and ECAC Hockey.”
Smith has racked up the awards this season as he was named ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and was a first team All-ECAC Hockey selection. Just this past week, he was named the College Hockey News first team, joining the other top-three finalists. He was also named player of the year by College Hockey News. Smith was a two-time ECAC Hockey/Fischer Hockey Player of the Month and a two-time player of the week. He also helped the Raiders achieve their highest national ranking since 2000 as Colgate reached No. 7 in the country during its seven-game unbeaten streak in late 2011.
Smith enjoyed a stellar senior campaign ranking first nationally in goals with 36 and third in points with 57. The Dallas, Texas, native collected points in all but five games in 2011-12 and had goals in 24 of Colgate’s 39 contests and in 10 of the 19 wins by the Raiders this season, he had the gamewinner or assisted on the winner.
The senior forward was the first 30-goal scorer in ECAC Hockey since 2001. He registered 16 multi-point games and nine of those were multi-goal games. Smith recorded a +25 ranking overall. His six shorthanded goals overall also leads the nation. He has posted seven power-play goals, five game-winners and two game-tying goals on the season. Smith became only the 10th player in school history to reach 75 goals and 75 assists in a career.
Connolly is second in the nation in points with 60 on 20 goals and 40 assists. The senior captain for Minnesota-Duluth led the team to the national title last season and got them into the regional final this season. Abbott leads the nation in points with 62. He netted 21 goals and added 41 assists, which leads the nation, in his 39 games to average over 1.5 points per game. He helped the University of Maine to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007.
The announcement of the Hobey Baker Award winner will be on April 6 at the Davis Conference Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., with the ceremony beginning at 6 p.m.