Thursday, February 09, 2012

UMD Honors Its Past

The Hobey Baker Award was first given out in 1981.

Over that time, the UMD Bulldogs have produced four Hobey winners, a number not surpassed by any other school in the country. UMD might not have nine national championships, but the school sure has a pretty good track record of producing big-time players.

The four Hobey winners -- Tom Kurvers, Bill Watson, Chris Marinucci, and Junior Lessard -- were in town last July for the school's annual alumni weekend, at which time the current UMD players were presented with rings commemorating last year's national championship.

But the four have never been together at a UMD game before.

Until Friday.

During the first intermission of UMD's game against North Dakota, the four will be honored, with new banners going up.

Watson is pretty excited.

"They've been very gracious. This is more about our night at UMD, and honoring those guys. We're all looking forward to it."

Lessard was the last of the four to play professionally, up through last season.

"It's rare for us four to be together on a night," Watson said, "and it's nice to be doing it on a weekend where we're playing a series like this (North Dakota)."

With UMD senior captain Jack Connolly among the favorites for the Hobey Baker Award this season, the timing of this ceremony is certainly good. It should serve as an opportunity for fans to get excited about Connolly's candidacy, even though the center is mired in a bit of a scoring slump at this point.

For Watson, it's also a chance to look at his Hobey comrades and show them something they don't have.

That, of course, is an NCAA championship ring, something Watson earned while a part of the coaching staff last season. He's still on staff as a volunteer assistant, working regularly with the players and spending time at the end of practices playing in something dubbed the AHL, for Afternoon Hockey League.

Last year, it was Justin Fontaine and the non-related Connollys (Jack and Mike) plying their craft in the regular games, joined by a host of other players. Now, others get their shot, including Adam Krause and Joe Basaraba, among others, on Wednesday.

Friday night will be special for UMD fans. It's a chance to see a lot of the program's history and tradition in the building on the same night. Hopefully, it's also the start of a new streak of good play for the current Bulldogs.

No comments: