April 6, 2012 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Connolly Wins 32nd Hobey Baker Award

CHN Staff Report

TAMPA, Fla. — Minnesota-Duluth senior Jack Connolly was named the 32nd recipient of the Hobey Baker Award, in a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base. Connolly also becomes the fifth Minnesota-Duluth player to win college hockey's top individual honor.

Connolly was visibly emotional when he accepted the award.

"My heart was racing, it was pretty much ready to jump out of my chest," Connolly said. "Once my name was called, it was emotional, seeing my family here and my coaches. This is as much for them.

"Obviously I wanted to win, but I knew I was against two phenomenal hockey players and deserving candidates. But it was a little nerves too."

Connolly was on stage with fellow finalists Maine's Spencer Abbott and Colgate's Austin Smith, both seniors as well. Abbott led the nation in points, Smith led it in goals, but Connolly's overall play won out.

A Hobey top ten finalist for two straight years, Connolly finished second in the nation in scoring and second in assists. As a member of the defending national champions, Connolly produced 20 goals and 40 assists for 60 points in 41 games played.

A hometown hero from Duluth, Minn., Connolly is two-time All American who lit up the WCHA this past season winning the regular-season conference scoring title, being named a First Team all-star for the third consecutive year and topped it all off as the WCHA Player of the Year.

Connolly becomes the fifth UMD Bulldog to win the award, the most of any school. He joins Tom Kurvers (1984), Bill Watson (1985), Chris Marinucci (1994) and Junior Lessard (2004).

"That's a pretty incredible group of people, and it's a dream come true to be put in with those names," Connolly said.

He thanked his coach, Scott Sandelin, along the way.

"He provided me with every opportunity to succeed, to go out there and play to my strengths, and I thank him every day for the opportunity to go win championships and play in front of my hometown."

Connolly never missed a college game, dressing for 166 straight. Consistency was another strength - he was held pointless for consecutive games only twice in his four-year career and established a school record 22-game point streak this past season.

At 5-foot-8, Connolly said his size has never gotten in the way.

"Everyone who said I was too small to play, I hope I'm doing a good job of proving them wrong," Connolly said. "I'm not the biggest guy in the world, but I know that, and I go out there and control the things I can control."

The award presentation took on some special flavor with the attendance of a descendant of Hobey Baker, who was a star and folk hero playing hockey and football for Princeton from 1911-14. He went on to join the Air Force, and was a pilot with the in World War I, but died while on a test flight just as the war was ending, December 1918.

Baker's descendent, Christo Morse, a filmmaker from Brooklyn, N.Y., was there to accept the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War), a medal Baker was to receive from the French military for his heroism, but he died before he could receive the medal.

Rear Adm. Patrick Martin of France awarded the medal to Morse.

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