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Sunday, May 5, 2024

Five years after Cale Makar’s win, Hockey East in prime position to reclaim Hobey Baker Award.

SportsFive years after Cale Makar’s win, Hockey East in prime position to reclaim Hobey Baker Award.

Boston College men’s hockey sophomore forward Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz.) was selected as one of the three 2024 Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick Finalists, announced by the organization on Thursday.

A Hockey East First Team All-Star, Gauthier leads the country in goals with 37. His 10 game-winning goals is the most in Division I and he currently sits fourth in points per game with 1.64. He is the first player in the NCAA to score 37 or more goals in a season since Minnesota’s Ryan Potulny scored 38 in 2005-06.

With two goals in the opening round of the NCAA tournament against Michigan Tech, Gauthier passed Johnny Gaudreau (2013-14) and tied Doug Brown (1984-85) for the third most in a season in program history. With an assist on the first goal in the 5-4 overtime victory against Quinnipiac in the Providence Regional final, Gauthier became the 84th player in program history to reach the 100-point mark in a career.

Recently, Gauthier was the 72nd recipient of the Walter Brown Award as well as being named the MVP by the New England Hockey Writers Association.

Three Boston College players have previously won the prestigious award: David Emma (1991), Mike Mottau (2000) and Johnny Gaudreau (2014). Gauthier is the 11th Hobey Hat Trick finalist from BC and 10th different player as Gaudreau was twice among the top three candidates.

The winner of the Hobey Baker Award will be announced on Friday, April 12 at the Frozen Four in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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As college hockey fans waited for last week’s announcement of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which is handed out to the top men’s college hockey player in the country, the question was not whether a Hockey East player would be included. Rather, it was how many.

The answer turned out to be two, with Boston College sophomore Cutter Gauthier and Boston University freshman Macklin Celebrini joined by Jackson Blake, who signed a three-year, entry level deal Wednesday with the Carolina Hurricanes after completing his sophomore season at North Dakota.

In 2023, all three finalists hailed from the Big Ten, with Michigan’s Adam Fantilli claiming the prize over Minnesota’s of Logan Cooley and Matthew Knies. The idea that there could be three finalists from Hockey East in 2024 was not far-fetched, as BU sophomore Lane Hutson — arguably the best defenseman in the country — and BC freshman Will Smith were top-10 finalists.

Smith, a native of Lexington and taken No. 4 in the 2023 NHL Draft by the Sharks, perhaps had the best case after leading the NCAA in points with 69 (23 goals, 46 assists). He received an unlikely endorsement as well. While asking BC coach Greg Brown about Smith, NHL.com’s Jessi Pierce prefaced her question by saying that Jack Eichel, who won the Hobey in 2015 as a freshman at BU, told her he voted for Smith.

That’s really nice of Jack,” said Brown. “For Will to lead the country in scoring as a freshman is extremely impressive. I guess he’s got a lot of abilities, but his awareness of space and how to create space for his teammates is something that’s really special for a young kid.

“He has a great ability to pass the puck exactly how hard it needs to be passed. If he needs a rocket to put through a small area, he does. Or if he needs to lay it out to an area in front of people, he does that extremely well, too.”

Skating on a prolific line with classmates Gabe Perreault and Ryan Leonard may have left some voters reluctant to single out Smith. Perreault entered Thursday night’s action averaging 1.68 points per game, third behind Smith’s 1.77 and Celebrini’s 1.73. Leonard was just one of three players to eclipse 30 goals, with his 31 trailing only Gauthier (37) and Celebrini (32).

The winner of the 2024 Hobey Baker Award will be announced Friday, with the ceremony broadcast on NHL Network at 6 p.m.

Seconds for all
For the first time, all four Frozen Four head coaches are behind the bench of their alma maters.

Michigan coach Brandon Naurato played four seasons for the Wolverines, reaching the Frozen Four as a junior in 2008 and finishing his career at Ann Arbor with 32 goals and 32 assists.

David Carle was recruited by Denver, but was unable to suit up for the Pioneers after he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy during medical testing ahead of the 2008 NHL Draft. Denver honored his scholarship by naming him a student assistant, jump-starting his coaching career.

BU coach Jay Pandolfo reached the Frozen Four in each of his four seasons as a Terriers’ player, winning a national title as a junior in 1995. He has led BU to the national semifinals in each of his two seasons as head coach.

“Just grateful to be back here as a coach,” said Pandolfo. “Grateful for the opportunity that I had when I played at Boston University, playing for Jack Parker, playing with a lot of very good players, a lot of competitive players, a lot of high-character players. We had some great teams.

“In saying that, when you’re here, it’s very difficult to win. This is the sixth time, but the five times I went before, I only won one time. It’s very hard to win this tournament. The margin for error is very slim.”

RELATED: The blue bloods have returned: For the first time in more than 30 years, BC and BU are both in the Frozen Four
Brown was the captain of the 1990 team that reached the national semifinals. It was the last time both BC and BU reached the Frozen Four in the same season.

“It’s a much bigger event now than it was then,” said Brown. “We would sneak in, there wasn’t hardly any press at all, none of the social media stuff. So it’s an event now. The red carpet stuff, the attention from the NHL, from everybody. It’s just evolved into a big event now and we’re excited that the guys get to experience it.”

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