AND NOW IT IS COMPLETE!
Friday, April 6, 2012
Jack Connolly put an exclamation point -- a huge exclamation point -- on the most decorated playing career in the 68-year history of University of Minnesota Duluth hockey Friday when he was bestowed with the 2011-12 Hobey Baker Memorial Award.
All-American. NCAA champion. Hometown hero. And now this to top it all off.
"Although I'm the one receiving this great honor, it would not have been possible without my teammates and I share this all with them," said Connolly at the award ceremony, which was held at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. and aired live on NHL Network. "I would like to give a special thank you to the UMD coaching staff -- head coach Scott Sandelin, current assistant coaches Derek Plante, Jason Herter, and Bill Watson, and my two former assistant coaches Steve Rohlik, and Brett Larson for having a lasting impact on my college hockey career."
Connolly becomes the fifth UMD player to claim the Hobey Baker Memorial Award in its 32 years of existence, joining forwards Junior Lessard (2003-04), Chris Marinucci (1993-94) and Bill Watson (1984-85) and defenseman Tom Kurvers (1983-84). No school in the country has produced more winners.
The first Bulldog to ever be named a Hobey Baker Memorial Award Top 10 Finalist twice and the first to earn All-Western Collegiate Hockey Association first team status three times, Connolly ranked second in the nation in both scoring (a career-high 60 points -- the most by any Bulldog in eight years) and assists (40) during his farewell collegiate go-around. For his efforts, he attained All-American recognition for a third time (first team in 2011-12 and 2010-11 and second team as a sophomore), something only one other Bulldog -- defenseman Norm Maciver (1983-86) had ever done before. He wrapped up the 2011-12 regular season as the WCHA scoring champion, racking up 43 points (16 goals and 27 assists) in league play. That was six more points than his next closest competitor and the highest scoring yield by any league combantant during the last six years. The 2011-12 WCHA Player of the Year and this year's recipient of the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, Connolly amassed 66 goals and 131 assists for 197 career points (far and away the highest figure by any active NCAA skater), which placed him in the No. 8 spot on UMD’s all-time scoring charts. Going back to the end of his freshman season, the Duluth, Minn., native was held pointless for more than one game in a row only twice (on Jan. 27-28, 2012 when he was blanked in both ends of the Michigan Tech University series, which terminated his school single-season record 22-game scoring streak, and on Jan. 23 and Jan. 29, 2010). He went without a goal or an assist only six times this winter and in those six outings the Bulldogs were a mere 1-4-1. Connolly, the nation’s top returning scorer from a year ago (he finished third in the NCAA with 59 points), was a three-time WCHA All-Academic Team honoree who never missed a game as a collegian, skating in a school-record 166 consecutive outings since he joined the Bulldog program three years ago. As a senior, he captained UMD to a 25-10-6 overall record, a second-place WCHA finish and its third NCAA tournament berth in the past four years. He served as an assistant team captain with the Bulldogs in 2010-11 when they skated away with the program's first national championship.
"I think Jack epitomizes what the award is about," said Sandelin. "Obviously, he was a tremendous leader and an offensive catalyst for our team. He had a remarkable career and an even more remarkable senior season. Most of all, Jack has always represented our program in a first-class way and I couldn't be happier for him."
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