Last week Colorado College sophomore Nick Halloran found out he was short-listed, essentially, for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top NCAA men's ice hockey player.
“Incredible,” he said. “It’s an honor I certainly wasn’t expecting. It’s pretty special.
“I knew I had the confidence to do something special with hockey. I’m trying to do that now. Luckily I’m playing on a good line and I think those two are the biggest part of our success.”
Linemate Mason Bergh was also nominated, but sounded less excited. He noted the number of nominees at 74, and said he didn’t look into it too closely.
“It’s a nice honor to have. It was fun to hear, but the team goals are obviously a little more important,” Bergh said.
“It’s nice to be honored with such good players across the country, but I’m more focused on the team than anything right now.”
Fan balloting runs through March 4. The competition is whittled down to 10 on March 14, and to become the first CC finalists in that group since Marty Sertich (who won in 2005) and Brett Sterling in 2006 will mean getting past some big names. Denver has a strong candidate for its second recipient in a row in sophomore Henrik Borgström (16 goals, 19 assists through 23 games) and teammate Dylan Gambrell is on his heels statistically. Third nominee Troy Terry is headed to the Olympics and will miss some time.
The Hobey Baker Award criteria includes: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements. Bergh was a member of National Collegiate Hockey Conference scholar-athlete and all-academic teams last year. They both sit at minus-3 on the season as far as plus/minus goal differential when on the ice.
For now, they’ll continue to improve and contribute to the Tigers, who take on Miami (9-11-2, 4-7-1 NCHC) this weekend, and wait for the votes to roll in. And maybe buy their third linemate, Trey Bradley, a thankful meal or two.
“I think we have to,” Halloran said. “I think he’s the glue that makes this thing work. He may not get the spotlight as much as me and Mason but he’s a special player, and I think anyone who knows hockey can see that.”