Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Team awards — PucKato's picks

I would guess that within the next few weeks Minnesota State will announce its team award winners for this season. I don't get a vote, but I do like to guess. So here are PucKato's picks for MVP, Unsung Hero, Most-Improved and Hustle Award:

Most valuable player: Tyler Elbrecht. I actually made this case in an earlier post/column this season, and I'll stand by it. Certainly, freshmen Jean-Paul LaFontaine and Matt Leitner deserve some consideration here, but I'll go with Elbrecht, the junior captain, and team leader. Forget the one goal, five assists. Elbrecht brought much more to the team than that. Not only did the Mavericks go 2-10-1 without his presence and 10-14-1 with him, but they allowed 4.38 goals per game during the 13 games he was out with a broken arm and 2.88 goals per game with him back. That's a difference of 1.5 goals per game.

Unsung hero: Joe Schiller. I wonder if Schiller ever could have imagined how his career would pan out when he came to MSU as a freshman four seasons ago. He has been moved from forward to defense back to forward again. This year was no exception to that. He simply said something like, "I'll play where they ask me to play." But he also played power play and penalty kill and ended up with career highs in assists and points. He finished the year with three goals and 15 assists for 18 points and 31 points in 109 career games.

Most improved player: Johnny McInnis. There are lots of candidates here — Zach Lehrke, Josh Nelson,  Mat Knoll among them. Lehrke went from six points as a freshman to 29 but expectations on him were high and he was made a top-line center from the get-go. Nelson made big strides throughout the year and was a reliable D toward the end. Knoll was the freshman who made the biggest improvement from Day 1 to the end of the season. But McInnis, the sophomore wing, took advantage of opportunities he got early in the year and made it tough to take him out of the lineup. He went from one goal, three assists as a rookie to eight goals, seven assists this year. He scored two game-winners, including an OT goal against Nebraska-Omaha.

Hustle award (hardest worker): Tyler Elbrecht. Elbrecht won it last year, and it's hard to think he won't get it again. LaFontaine should be a candidate, too, but Elbrecht certainly seems to be the most determined player on the team, and his hustle was evident throughout that double-overtime game on Saturday night in Duluth, a night in which he played a ton of minutes (as he so often does) and scored his first goal of the season.

What do you think?


NathanTish said...

Looks like I'm playing devil's advocate here, but it's not intentionally. A case can be made for a few guys in each of these categories this year.

I'm a season ticket holder, and I only missed one home game this season (the 9-1 stomping of Huntsville). Here are my two cents...

Team MVP: Matt Leitner... Almost defaulting to him for leading the team in points this year. I would have leaned towards Lafontaine if not for Leitner's strong finish. Respect to Elbrecht for all he contributed, but I disagree with a 'most valuable' nod when he had 'zero value' over a 13 game stretch.

Unsung Hero: Zach Palmquist... 6 goals (3 on power play) and 19 points. I feel like he's not getting enough credit as one of the WCHAs most productive freshman defensemen this year.

Most Improved: Zach Lehrke... Even as a top-liner, I don't think anybody expected him to share the team lead in goals scored this year. McInnis has a good argument here, but by selecting Lehrke this season the door is open for McInnis to take these honors next year!

Hustle Award: JP Lafontaine... Recalling countless times where he extended plays behind the net and along the boards, resulting in a lot of great scoring opportunities where we often see the puck turned over at this level of hockey.

goodbyeshane said...

Shane, you have been covering hockey too long. Time for a new set of eyes.
One suggestion for the live blog if you won't move on. Most of the bloggers don't allow fan comments. That way they can watch the game.

Hockey Girl said...

Any ideas on who the team captains will be for next year?

Hockey Girl said...

Any idea on who the team captians will be next year?

Nation said...

Shane is Jutting going to get fired. He is going on the last year of his contract and there is no extension yet. There are rumors. Could you just tell us what you know about the situation?

Nation said...

"goodbyeshane" I don't know what you are talking about. This blog has always provided excellent coverage of Minnesota State hockey. Keep up the good work Shane!!

Shane Frederick said...

Captains? Elbrecht will wear the C again, I'm sure. Not sure about the A's. Other seniors will be Hayes, Zuck, Mosey and Cook.

Coaching? I've heard nothing new on the situation. Everyone's going forward right now, preparing for next year, recruiting for beyond that.