The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is given to college hockey's top player each season. Candidates must exhibit exemplary character, on as well as away from the ice, contribute to the sportsmanship of the team, have solid grades, and be one of NCAA hockey's most skilled players on top of it all. The award is named after Hobart "Hobey" Baker, a Philadelphia native who went to St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, where he played hockey for the school's well known team on the adjacent White Street Pond. As a side note there is a modern, outdoor pond hockey tournament each year on that same pond called the "Black Ice Pond Hockey Tournament" where the winners are awarded a trophy called "the Hobey Baker Stick" (which looks like a stick he might have used). And coincidentally, there is a team from Miami, Florida that plays in the tournament. Allow me to take this moment to invite Zach to play on said team next season, ....call me......
Baker went on to play college hockey at Princeton where he became known as the nation's top amateur hockey player, and grand gentleman of his time. He left hockey to fly fighter-aircraft in World War I, and was tragically killed in a final flight after the armistice was signed. The award for NCAA hockey's finest player is named in his honor.
Past winners include (from last year) Johnny Gaudreau, Matt Carle (2006), Jordan Leopold (2002), Ryan Miller (2001), former Panther Mike Mottau (2000), Connecticut's own Chris Drury (1998), Brendan Morrison (1997), and Paul Kariya (1993). Quite the honor than, that Florida Panther prospect Zach Hyman, of the University of Michigan, has been announced as a finalist for this year's award.
Zach was drafted by the Panthers in the 5th round of the 2010 draft, before he left greater Toronto/Hamilton for the hallowed halls of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has grown tremendously under the tutelage of the legendary Coach Red Berenson, both in size (he is now listed at 6'1" 205 lbs), and ability and leadership. Hyman is an alternate captain for the Wolverines this season, and has gone from a 3-year total of 13 goals (over his freshman through junior seasons) to 21 goals this season. He produced points for Michigan at a rate of 1.44 per game this season. Did I mention that he is also a right-handed wing who has learned to play the rough game around the net? He has. Check this one out against Wisconsin's fine goaltender:
He also has 31 assists this season, and is +24. All of that in 36 games. Coach Berenson asked Hyman to spend his first three seasons at Ann Arbor working on his two-way game and defensive responsibility. He did that very well, and with a minimum of penalties (he took only 21 penalties his entire NCAA career). The result is an exceptionally well-rounded player with a fantastic two-way game on top of his top-notch offensive ability.
But Zach Hyman is not just a Hobey-worthy hockey player, he is also the kind of young man you want on your team and interacting with fans. Here he is making a young fan's day:
He also has written two children's books- one of which has been made into an audiobook voiced by Seinfeld's Jason Alexander, with two more books planned:
Fans may vote for the Hobey winner once per day, while the voting period is open. You can vote here by clicking on the "fan balloting" header:
We here at LBC encourage all Florida Panther fans to visit the Hobey Baker website and vote for Zach. We also wish this exemplary young man all of our best wishes in the NCAA Frozen Four, and hope the Rampage push far enough in the AHL playoffs for us to see our first glimpses of him as a pro in the Panthers organization.
Now quit reading and go vote!