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State of Hobey: Brink, McKay and Meyers are hat trick finalists for college hockey's top honor

The trophy given to the top player in men's college hockey will be returning to Minnesota, one way or another, as two Minnesotans and a Chicagoan who plays in Minnesota are the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.

McKay WCHA POY
Minnesota State goalie Dryden McKay, shown here during a game against Bowling Green on Feb. 5, was named the 2020-21 WCHA Player of the Year and is a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. (Jason Wachter / The Rink Live)
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MINNEAPOLIS – There are four teams from college hockey's "west" vying for the NCAA title next week, and fittingly the Hobey Baker Award will spend the summer in Minnesota, guaranteed, when the 2022 winner is announced in Boston on April 8. The Hobey committee narrowed its 10 finalists down to three this week, and each member of the trio has a Minnesota connection.

Denver forward Bobby Brink, from Minnetonka, Minn., was the top player in the NCHC this season and has been the Pioneers’ on-ice leader on their journey back to the Frozen Four. He heads into their semifinal meeting with Michigan leading the nation offensively with 56 points.

Minnesota State Mankato goalie Dryden McKay, who is from suburban Chicago, is considered by many to be the favorite for the award, having gotten his 34th career shutout last weekend to send the Mavericks back to the Frozen Four.

Minnesota Gophers co-captain Ben Meyers, from Delano, Minn., was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and is considered by many to be the top college free agent available this season. He leads the Gophers offensively, and scored the dramatic overtime winner versus UMass in their NCAA playoffs opener.

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Minnesota Gophers co-captain Ben Meyers worked to corral a flying puck during his team's 5-1 win versus the Michigan Woverines on Friday, Dec. 3, 2021 at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Jonathan Knight / Knight Photography

While McKay would be the first Maverick to win the trophy, Brink is looking to become the third Pioneer to claim the Hobey, after Matt Carle in 2006 and Will Butcher in 2017. The Gophers have collected four Hobeys previously, starting in 1981 when Neal Broten won the first award. Robb Stauber became the first goalie to win the Hobey in 1988, followed by forward Brian Bonin in 1996 and defenseman Jordan Leopold in 2002.

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After Hibbing, Minn., native and Minnesota Duluth defenseman Scott Perunovich won that school’s sixth Hobey in 2020, the award headed east in 2021 with Wisconsin star forward Cole Caufield claiming the trophy.

This year’s Hobey winner will be announced during the Frozen Four off day, live on NHL Network beginning at 5 pm CT. The award show will also include the announcements of the Hockey Humanitarian Award, the East and West All-American Teams and the Mike Richter Award for the nation’s top college hockey goalie. McKay is also a finalist for the Richter and is looking to become just the third goalie to win the Hobey, following Stauber and Michigan State’s Ryan Miller in 2001.

Meyers could be the second Hobey winner coached by Gophers head man Bob Motzko. In 2013, St. Cloud State forward Drew LeBlanc won the award when Motzko was coaching the Huskies. Brink’s father Andy played golf and hockey at the U of M and skated on defense in two Frozen Fours with the Gophers in the 1990s.

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Denver forward Bobby Brink (24) moved the puck in a NCAA tournament game versus UMass Lowell at the Budweiser Event Center in Loveland, Colo., on Thursday, March 24, 2022.
Justin Tafoya / Clarkson Creative via Denver Athletics<br/>

The finalists and eventual winner are determined by the vote of a 30-member selection committee which includes a national group of coaches, scouts, media and a representative from USA Hockey. Criteria for the award – which was founded by the now-defunct Decathlon Athletic Club in Bloomington, Minn. – includes displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game; strength of character on and off the ice; sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.

Of the 41 previous Hobey winners, 12 were from Minnesota, played for a Minnesota school or both.

Jess Myers covers college hockey, as well as outdoors, general sports and travel, for The Rink Live and the Forum Communications family of publications. He came to FCC in 2018 after three decades of covering sports as a freelancer for a variety of publications, while working full time in politics and media relations. A native of Warroad, Minn. (the real Hockeytown USA), Myers has a degree in journalism/communications from the University of Minnesota Duluth. He lives in the Twin Cities. Contact Jess via email at jrmyers@forumcomm.com, or find him on Twitter via @JessRMyers. English speaker.
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