Hi again everyone! Just a day away from the second half of the season now, we wanted to hand out, well, type out some midseason awards for things that have happened so far.
Similar to our grades, we (Judy, Andrew and Sarah) all came up with categories and nominees and voted for each one. What you see below is our general consensus on each award and explanation for why we selected that particular winner for the category. Some are serious, but we decided to have fun with a couple as well.
Let us know what you think, and thanks as always!
Most Valuable Player: Doyle Somerby
What a year it has been for the junior. Captain Matt Grzelcyk has played in all of six games this season, so that has made Somerby the veteran of a young bunch of defensemen. On the ice, he does a strong job of playing in his own zone and containing his assignments and he already has eight points, a career high. Adding to that, he’s a pretty tough player, not afraid to put his body out there for the team, as evidenced by his team-high 43 blocked shots. But what’s equally impressive has been his leadership role, despite the fact that he might not be wearing an “A” on his sweater. After a winnable game against Yale in mid-December, he held himself and the team accountable — especially the penalty kill — for not getting things done for the first 40 minutes. At the same time, though, he was optimistic that the team would rally the next day against Quinnipiac, which the Terriers did. His performance speaks for itself and he has been the glue to hold the defense together, and that’s why he’s our MVP for the first half. — AB
Honorable mentions: Ahti Oksanen and Danny O’Regan
Most improved: Brandon Fortunato
So far this season, it’s hard to argue a returning player has had more of a different but effective impact on the team this year compared to last than Fortunato. He was a staple on the blue line for BU’s run at the national title, but when he hit Comm Ave for his second season this fall, he brought a new area of his game with him: an improved shot. Back in October, following the Terriers’ win over Wisconsin, Fortunato said he’d been working on his shot every day over the summer at the advice of Coach Quinn, who told his defenseman that were he to strengthen his shot, it would “improve him as a player tremendously.” Clearly it’s working, as Fortunato has four goals so far compared to his one last year, is tied for fourth among defensemen nationally with 15 points and is third among his fellow blue liners with 0.88 points per game. He’s also almost surpassed his point total from last year (18) just halfway through this season. And while there are still instances of questionable defensive play from him, that aspect of his game has undeniably gotten a boost as well. — JC
Honorable mention: Matt Lane
Biggest Surprise: Ryan Cloonan
When you have highly touted U.S. National Team Development Program players as part of your incoming freshman class, some of the other first-years might be overlooked. Admittedly, we may have done this with Cloonan. Coach Quinn talked about Cloonan’s tremendous speed before the season started, but that’s really all we knew about him, aside from the general statistics you can find on any player online. He began as a fourth-liner, and we didn’t have many expectations. But he scored a goal in his first collegiate game and continued his hot start, proving to the coaching staff that he was a top-six forward. Like Quinn said, Cloonan’s speed really is his biggest asset, and he really does use that to his advantage to break free in the offensive zone. We just didn’t expect him to be sixth on the team, and second among freshmen, in scoring in the first half. — AB
Honorable mention: Connor LaCouvee
Best Game: Nov. 13: BU-Providence battle to 1-1 tie
This game had all of the hype that any regular season game could possibly have. It was the first time BU and PC had met since the 2015 national championship game. There was a little added fanfare when Friars got to raise their banner during a pregame ceremony that included video highlights from their dramatic comeback win. There was a lot going on before the first period started, but the game itself ended up being a fun one. It was tight throughout with a lot of checks and close chances. The teams were evenly matched, but the Friars finally cracked through late in the second. They held the slim lead for most of the rest of the game until Ahti Oksanen tied things up with 1:29 left in the third period. That’s where things would stay, and both teams earned a much-deserved point. It was a game that actually lived up to its billing, and for us, it was a more than enjoyable one to watch and cover. — AB
Honorable mention: BU and Cornell draw at Red Hot Hockey
Best save (and subsequent celly): Connor LaCouvee penalty shot save on Michigan’s Tyler Motte
Ok so, to be fair, LaCouvee is the only goalie who has cellied (not just once, but on two occasions) following a big stop, but we wanted to give credit where credit was due. In BU’s comeback win over Michigan on Nov. 20, and with the score knotted at two apiece, the sophomore faced Tyler Motte one-on-one after the Wolverines were awarded a penalty shot. Motte stickhandled through the slot and tried a shot on LaCouvee (and attempted to net his own rebound, I might add) that the goalie stopped (both times). After skating away from his own net, he promptly dropped to one knee and pumped his blocker down low in celebration. -— JC
Honorable mention (save sans celly): Sean Maguire glove save against Quinnipiac
I unfortunately do not have a video for this one, but about midway through the final frame of BU’s game at Quinnipiac on Dec. 12, Maguire was doing work keeping pucks out of the net while his team killed off a penalty. As the Bobcats cycled around, they tested him with a one-timer from the right circle, which he snatched out of the air with his glove. I had to watch the replay at least twice before it registered why the shot didn’t go in. — JC
Biggest disappointment: Tie between A.J. Greer and Matt Grzelcyk
These are obviously two very, very different types of disappointment. On Monday, Andrew expressed rather extensively his feelings on A.J. Greer’s season before his departure. He was probably one of the players we expected the biggest jump from, and he failed to deliver perhaps the most drastically. As for Grzelcyk, we obviously expected big things, and we’re more disappointed that things haven’t gone a lot better simply due to the injury bug that’s bitten him. — SK
Best quote: Ahti Oksanen
“After those penalties, we knew we would get one back. We knew that the Hockey Gods would just give us one goal.”
Oksanen is one of our favorite interviews mostly because he isn’t afraid to tell like it is. He’s honest, but he’s also witty. We got a big kick out of this quote of his after the team’s 1-1 tie to Providence on Nov. 13. We don’t know if he’d been saving the reference to the “Hockey Gods,” but he seemed rather amused and pleased with himself after saying it (~1:30 in the video), which probably made the quote all that more memorable. And given the momentum swing in that game, we can’t help but believe that there could’ve been some sort of spiritual being helping out there. — SK
Honorable mention: Connor LaCouvee on how he kept focus while seeing just two shots on goal during the first period against Northeastern 11/7/15
“Just trying to stay in it, bopping to the music, I don’t know. [Matthews Arena] was playing some pretty good tracks.”
Best postgame attire: Matt Lane’s suspenders
At the Boston Hockey Blog, we are proud to admit we care a lot about fashion. The three of us frequently discuss our game attire days in advance, and often ask or offer opinions about what matches better or would be more fitting for a particular environment or climate. So it’s no surprise that we always take notice when one of the players makes a solid fashion choice. It obviously won’t cloud our judgment or assessment of a player, but we like giving props when props are due. One of our favorite postgame looks this semester had to be the white suspenders Matt Lane wore after the team’s loss to Michigan. They weren’t overly flashy, but were classy and unique enough to catch our eye. —SK
Honorable mention: Ahti Oksanen’s double-breasted suit jacket.