DUBUQUE, Iowa -Some of the nation's top college hockey players once honed their crafts on the ice in Dubuque, and Friday, the award given to the best of the best in the NCAA will make a stop at the Mystique Community Ice Center. The Fighting Saints will welcome the Hobey Baker Award to the arena Friday night as part of Hockey Weekend Across America as Dubuque takes the ice versus the Green Bay Gamblers at 7:35 p.m. Fans will be able to see the award up close and take photos with the trophy.
The Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the top college hockey player in the nation, is named after Hobart Amory Hare "Hobey" Baker, who played at Princeton University and was considered the first premier American hockey player in the 1910's. Baker died in a plane crash in World War I, and the NCAA honored him by creating the coveted award bearing his name in 1980.
The award has many ties to Dubuque. Three former Fighting Saints now playing in college are candidates for the award this season. Riley Barber, Johnny Gaudreau, and Vinny Saponari all helped lead Dubuque to a Clark Cup Championship in 2010-11, and now are starring at the NCAA level. Barber plays at Miami University (OH) and Saponari at Northeastern. Gaudreau, considered to be a strong candidate to win the Hobey Baker, helped lead Boston College to a National Championship last season and continues to post strong numbers in his sophomore season. Fans can endorse their favorite former Fighting Saint by voting for award at www.hobeybakeraward.com.
"The Hobey is the Heisman of college hockey," said Dubuque Head Coach and General Manager Jim Montgomery. "We have a couple of former players who are candidates, and we have tried to build a program here that raises great players not only on the ice but in the community of Dubuque. I think that you see that with our former players having success in college, and carrying on those values on and off the ice from their Fighting Saint careers."
Another tie the Hobey Baker Award has to Dubuque is that Montgomery was a finalist for the award during his playing time at the University of Maine during the 1992-93 season. Montgomery helped lead the Black Bears to a national championship that year and scored a hat trick in the title game. The Hobey Baker Award went to Montgomery's linemate and future NHL star Paul Kariya that season, but both players were such strong candidates and friends, that at the awards ceremony the two players lifted the award together.
The Hobey Baker Award stopping in Dubuque is just one part of the festivities Friday night for Hockey Weekend Across America. This is the sixth straight year this event has been held across the United States and runs from February 15-17. The game of hockey is celebrated across the nation from pro to peewee at rinks with various events. Hockey fans across the USA are encouraged to wear jerseys during the day Friday to show their support for the game they love.
In Dubuque, Friday is also a BLACK OUT presented by Truck County. The Fighting Saints will be wearing special black uniforms that will be auctioned off following the game with proceeds to benefit the Dubuque Youth Hockey Association. Fans are encouraged to wear black clothing to the game.
Tickets to Friday's game are available by calling 563.583.6880 and online at DubuqueFightingSaints.com.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)