In the first four years of Penn State’s time as a Division-I program, only three players had received a nomination for the Hobey Baker Award, awarded annually to the best player in college hockey.
This season has now doubled the number of Nittany Lions who have been nominated for the honor. The team announced Monday that Peyton Jones, Denis Smirnov and Andrew Sturtz have been nominated for the most prestigious award in college hockey, joining Casey Bailey, Taylor Holstrom and Luke Juha as the only Lions to be nominated for the award.
The list will be narrowed down by a fan vote beginning today that concludes March 5. The top ten players in that vote will then advance to a second round of fan voting that begins March 16 and ends March 26.
They will then be narrowed down to three finalists for the award, dubbed the Hobey Hat Trick. The award will then be presented on April 7, during the Frozen Four of the NCAA Tournament in Chicago.
The trio of Lions up for the award have been three of the top catalysts for the success the team has had this season. Jones has started all but two games for the Lions and is tied for eighth in the nation in wins with 14. That total has already surpassed the Lions’ previous single season record for wins set last season by Eamon McAdam with 13.
For a long stretch early in the season, Smirnov ranked at or near the top of the nation in points and points per game. A recent slump has caused the freshman to drop to a tie for 18th in points, but he remains in 10th place in points per game.
Sturtz’s fantastic sophomore campaign should not have come as much of a surprise. Last season, Sturtz set a team record for goals by a freshman with 18 and tied Casey Bailey’s record for points by a freshman with 27. Sturtz already has 17 goals in just 20 games this season, putting him on pace to break Bailey’s single-season goal mark of 22.