Friday, May 4, 2018

Mavericks announce awards

Minnesota State announced its team award winners this week, and there weren't too many surprises. In fact, it would be hard for me to dispute them too much. Here are the winners below, with a bit of commentary.

Most Valuable Player — C.J. Suess: Suess, who also won the Don Brose Leadership Award and the Three Star of the Year Award (based on a point system from the postgame awards each home game), led MSU in scoring with 43 points, including 22 goals and was the WCHA Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Conference, as well as the Mavericks' first Hobey Baker top-10 finalist. One of MSU's three captains, Suess had 521 faceoff wins, which ranked third in the nation and finished the year at plus-18.

Comment: Can't argue with this one. He was MSU's best all-around player all season — offensively and as a two-way defensive forward. Lots of choices for runner-up, including Marc Michaelis and Daniel Brickley, but I'd probably go with Zeb Knutson.

Unsung Player Award — Connor LaCouvee: In his only season at MSU, the BU transfer went 23-6-1 with a .914 save percentage and a 1.80 goals-against average. His 1.67 GAA in WCHA play made him the league's goaltending champion. He was a Third Team All-WCHA pick and a Mike Richter Award semifinalist. He started the last 17 games of the season.

Comment: Interesting choice here, considering his accolades. However, getting Third Team All-Conference while winning the goalie title might make him somewhat unsung. Also, MSU's dominant possession time and low shots allowed can leave its goalies in the shadows. I like the pick, but others I'd strongly consider would be Edwin Hookenson and F Parker Tuomie.

Most Improved Player Award — Dallas Gerads: The freshman forward had 14 points in 27 games. He played in all 20 of the Mavericks' final games after playing in just seven of their first 20. His seven goals, including four power-play goals.

Comment: If you've read this blog, this is the award where I wonder if it should be for improvement during the year or improvement from the previous year. I usually like to award the latter, but this is a great choice considering how little Gerads played over the first half of the season and how important he became over the second half, including on the power play. By my other standard, I'd probably pick  Edwin Hookenson (he may have qualified by both standards) or Parker Tuomie.

Hardest Worker Award — Max Coatta: The junior forward, one of three captains on the team, won this award for the second year in a row. He played in all 40 games and had 11 points.

Comment: The players and coaches can judge this better than I, especially if they take practice time into consideration, but Coatta definitely fits this bill. Daniel Brickley probably deserved close consideration for this as well.

Earlier in the week, MSU held its banquet for its Maverick Achievement Awards, which are for all sports. Suess won the Male Athletics Medal of Honor, which goes to the top senior male athlete. It was the first time since 2003 that a hockey player won the men's award. B.J. Abel won it that year. Freshman forward Jake Jaremko won the Male Newcomer of the Year Award, which goes to the top male freshman for transfer student. Jaremko was the WCHA's Rookie of the Year after a 39-point season.

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