Friday, May 6, 2016

MSU hockey awards

On Thursday night, Minnesota State announced its team award winners for the 2015-16 season. Senior forward Teddy Blueger cleaned up, winning three of the team's awards — Most Valuable Player, Hardest Worker and the Don Brose Leadership Award.

A first-team All-WCHA pick this season, Blueger led the Mavericks in scoring (35 points) and assists (24) and ranked second in the WCHA in scoring (28 points, including a conference-high 21 assists in 28 league games). He finished his career with 108 points in 155 games. His 13 game-winning goals rank fourth on MSU's all-time list.

Here's the rest of the list:

Unsung Hero — Jon Jutzi, senior defenseman. Established career highs for goals (5) and points (15) in his final collegiate season while playing in all 41 games. He tied for second on the team with four power play goals and was second with 56 blocked shots

Most Improved Player — Daniel Brickley, freshman defenseman. A WCHA All-Rooke selection, he had 2 goals and 11 points in 36 points.  He tied for third on team at +9, and his 66 shots on goal led MSU freshmen and tied for 11th in the nation among freshmen defensemen.

Three-Star Award — Bryce Gervais, senior forward. A third-team All-WCHA pick, he led MSU with 16 goals and was second on the team with 26 points. He also led the Mavericks with 141 shots on goal and three short-handed goals. He finished his college career with school records for games played (163), consecutive games played (163) and short-handed goals (9).

If Puckato had a vote on some of these awards, here's who I would have picked (I omit the leadership award because it's more of an internal award and the Three Stars because it's based on tallies from the the post-game Three Stars during home games):

Most Valuable Player: Blueger. Not only was he the team's top point-producer, but he was an excellent defensive forward (+10, which led MSU's forwards) and reliable faceoff taker. Saw a ton of ice time late in so many close games. Coach Mike Hastings' praise for Blueger's value to the team, it seemed, grew every week as the season went on.

Hardest Worker: It's hard to argue with Blueger for this, but if I were spreading the awards around, I might give it to C.J. Franklin, who was third on the team in points (25) and second in goals (14). Brought a lot of energy, was willing to learn and play a new position during the season, moving from wing to center (corrected).

Unsung Hero: Jutzi is a good choice here. I think, as a defenseman, he flew under the radar while fellow D Casey Nelson — the WCHA's Defensive Player of the Year — and team captain Carter Foguth received more attention. Logged a lot of minutes, blocked shots, scored a couple of game-winners. 

Most Improved: Again, hard to quarrel with Brickley, especially if you recall his struggles early in the year (remember the preseason exhibition game?). His play and his confidence improved week after week, and he'll be a key D next season. However, I like to compare season to season, so I'd give this award to forward Zeb Knutson for his transformation from freshman (3 points, 9 games) to sophomore (17 points, 39 games).

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