The NCHC announced its all-league teams Wednesday, then finalists for its individual awards on Thursday. Here is the info on those awards, which feature three Bulldogs up for honors.
After revealing its all-conference teams on Wednesday, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) announced the finalists for its eight individual specialty awards on Thursday. The winners of the awards will be announced Thursday, March 19 at the NCHC Awards Celebration in Minneapolis on the eve of the second annual NCHC Frozen Faceoff.
The three finalists for NCHC Player of the Year are St. Cloud State junior forward Jonny Brodzinski, Denver senior defenseman Joey LaLeggia and North Dakota junior goaltender Zane McIntyre. Brodzinski compiled 23 points in 24 NCHC games, tying for the NCHC lead with 13 goals, including an NCHC-best seven power play markers and two game-winners. He was the co-NCHC Player of the Month in January. LaLeggia, a two-time NCHC Player of the Month, finished second in the NCHC scoring race with 29 points in 23 conference games on 12 goals and 17 assists, while posting a plus-9 rating in NCHC action. McIntyre, a four-time NCHC Goaltender of the Week, was one of just two goalies to play all 24 conference games, posting a NCHC-best 16-6-2 record (.708 win percentage), while ranking in the top three in conference play with both a .931 save percentage and a 2.15 goals-against average.
Up for the Herb Brooks Coach of the Year Award are Omaha’s Dean Blais, North Dakota’s Dave Hakstol and Minnesota Duluth’s Scott Sandelin. Blais led the Mavericks to a 12-8-4-3 mark in conference play and a second straight third-place finish, despite being picked sixth in the NCHC Preseason Poll and having one of the youngest teams in the country. Hakstol guided UND to the Penrose Cup and the NCHC regular-season title with a 16-6-2 record in the NCHC, winning the conference by six points. Under Sandelin, the Bulldogs went 12-9-3-0 in conference play to finish fifth, while reaching 20 wins overall and ranking in the top six nationally.
Finalists for NCHC Rookie of the Year include Miami defenseman Louie Belpedio, Denver forward Danton Heinen and St. Cloud State forward Patrick Russell, all three of which were named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team. Heinen, a four-time NCHC Rookie of the Week and February Rookie of the Month, led all NCHC rookies and tied for third overall with 26 points in 24 conference games, including nine goals and 17 assists. Belpedio, a two-time NCHC Rookie of the Week, led all rookie blue liners with 10 points and had a plus-7 rating in 24 NCHC games, while blocking 21 shots. Russell was second in rookie scoring behind Heinen with 20 points on 10 goals and assists each in 24 conference games. He earned NCHC Rookie of the Week three times on the year.
In addition to being up for Player of the Year, McIntyre is one of three finalists for the NCHC Goaltender of the Year, along with Omaha senior Ryan Massa and Minnesota Duluth freshman Kasimir Kaskisuo. McIntyre, a nominee for the Mike Richter Award and a First-Team All-NCHC selection, led the NCHC in win percentage (.708), wins (16) and saves (704) in conference play, while his .931 save percentage was second. Massa, also up for the Mike Richter Award, was a Second-Team All-Conference selection and started 20 conference games in net, going 9-7-4 with one shutout, while leading the NCHC with a .933 save percentage and ranking second with a 2.12 GAA. Kaskisuo was the only other NCHC goalie to start all 24 conference games (with McIntyre) as he went 12-9-3 with a 2.27 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
Like McIntyre, Brodzinski is also up for two awards as he is one of three finalists for the Forward of the Year, joining Miami senior Austin Czarnik and Denver sophomore Trevor Moore. Brodzinski was a First-Team All-NCHC selection with 13 goals and 10 assists in conference play as his 13 goals tied for the NCHC lead. He was also a two-time NCAA Star of the Week. Czarnik finished with an NCHC-best 22 assists in 24 NCHC games, while tallying four goals, including a hat trick, as he totaled 26 points en route to Second-Team All-Conference honors this year. Moore, a First-Team All-NCHC selection, captured the NCHC scoring title with 30 points in 23 conference games, while his 13 goals in conference play tied for the NCHC lead with Brodzinski and others. His plus-15 rating in NCHC play also led the conference.
LaLeggia is a finalist for three awards, including NCHC Defenseman of the Year, along with Miami junior Matthew Caito and Minnesota Duluth junior Andy Welinski. LaLeggia, a unanimous First-Team All-NCHC recipient, won NCHC Defenseman of the Week five times this season, including three straight weeks in February, while he blocked 24 shots and posted a plus-9 rating. Caito tallied three goals and had 13 assist for 16 points in 24 NCHC games, while his plus-10 rating was second among blue liners and his 45 blocked shots were sixth. Welinski, a Second-Team All-NCHC pick, racked up 12 points, including seven goals, while playing all 24 NCHC games and blocking 25 shots. LaLeggia won the inaugural award last season.
LaLeggia is also up for NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year, along with Omaha sophomore Ian Brady, North Dakota junior Jordan Schmaltz and Colorado College sophomore Jaccob Slavin. LaLeggia’s 29 points in conference play were 13 more than any other defenseman, while his 12 goals, all in conference play, rank second nationally among defensemen. Brady tied for second in NCHC defensemen scoring with 16 points on four goals and 12 assists in 23 NCHC games, while he was one of just two defensemen with a short-handed goal in NCHC play this year. Schmaltz was named Second-Team All-NCHC after compiling 13 points, including 11 assists, in 24 conference games and fired 52 shots on goal. Slavin posted 10 points in conference play, including four goals, three of which came on the power play as he earned First-Team All-NCHC honors. LaLeggia also won the inaugural award for Offensive Defenseman last season.
The final award is NCHC Defensive Forward of the Year with Czarnik up for a second NCHC specialty honor, while he is joined by Denver senior Daniel Doremus and North Dakota senior Mark MacMillan as finalists. Czarnik was a staple of Miami’s penalty kill, scoring two short-handed goals in conference play while blocking 17 shots. Doremus finished fifth in blocked shots among forwards with 22 while his plus-13 rating was second among forwards in NCHC action. MacMillan collected First-Team All-NCHC honors while he tied for third among forwards with a plus-11 rating and like Czarnik, tallied two short-handed goals and 17 blocked shots.
Finalists were determined based on voting by the conference’s head coaches and one student-athlete from each team with the top three vote-getters (plus ties) being finalists.
Herb Brooks Coach of the Year
Dean Blais, Omaha
Dave Hakstol, North Dakota
Scott Sandelin, Minnesota Duluth
Player of the Year
Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State, Jr., F
Joey LaLeggia, Denver, Sr., D
Zane McIntyre, North Dakota, Jr., G
Rookie of the Year
Louie Belpedio, Miami, D
Danton Heinen, Denver, F
Patrick Russell, St. Cloud State, F
Goaltender of the Year
Kasimir Kaskisuo, Minnesota Duluth, Fr.
Ryan Massa, Omaha, Sr.
Zane McIntyre, North Dakota, Jr.
Forward of the Year
Jonny Brodzinski, St. Cloud State, Jr
Austin Czarnik, Miami, Sr.
Trevor Moore, Denver, So.
Defenseman of the Year
Matthew Caito, Miami, Jr.
Joey LaLeggia, Denver, Sr. (last year’s winner)
Andy Welinski, Minnesota Duluth, Jr.
Offensive Defenseman of the Year
Ian Brady, Omaha, So.
Joey LaLeggia, Denver, Sr. (last year’s winner)
Jordan Schmaltz, North Dakota, Jr.
Jaccob Slavin, Colorado College, So.
Defensive Forward of the Year
Austin Czarnik, Miami, Sr.
Daniel Doremus, Denver, Sr.
Mark MacMillan, North Dakota, Sr.