Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mid-Season Awards: Most Improved (Men)

Overall the Badger Men's hockey team has improved in a lot of areas from last season. These four players are a big part of that, generally for different reasons. There will not be a Women's award for most improved. Sorry, but this is my first season following the women in-depth, and stats don't tell the whole story one season to the next.

Tom Gorowsky - The question really is, is Tommy really improved or is he finallly getting the chance to show off his skills by being utilitzed by Coach Eaves? Since Ben Street's injury, Tom has been in the lineup, and he hasn't looked back. In a comparison to last season, Tom only played 17 games, while he has seen action in 14 already this season. Tom's a scorer, and is getting a chance to play in situations where he can score. I think Tom deserves more mid-season MVP consideration than most improved.

Ben Grotting - Last season it was John Mitchell that made a jump in his game play, and this year its his often time linemate Ben Grotting. Ben isn't going to rack up the stats, but he has been an effective player at EV all season. When playing w/ Mitchell and Matt Thurber, his line single handedly beat Michigan State. We also have to give props to Ben for laying the smack down on minnesota's Patricia "Whitey" White.

Brendan Smith - Well when you are at the bottom, the only place to go is up, and Brendan has improved in a big way. Last season was riddled w/ mistakes. His offensive skills were there, but his defensive skills weren't remotely ready for the WCHA. A back injury crippled the 2nd half of his season, but he has turned things around so far. I still see momentary relapses to last season's version, but Brendan has really improved his defensive play. On offense, he has a cannon from the point, and along w/ Jamie McBain, QB the 1st PP unit to great success this season. Sometimes I still think he is looking ahead to his next destination (AHL, NHL), instead of focusing on being a Wisconsin Badger.

Andy Bohmbach - The Bohmber is one of my favorite players on the team, and he is getting my vote. Last season, Andy didn't really get a chance until the 2nd half of the season. He did a great job on the 4th line providing energy and solid play, and was getting better every game. I figured he was on the border of being a regular this season, but he's only missed one game. Andy has done it all this season. Played on the 1st line, played on the 4th; played on the PP, regular on the PK. Overall, he has looked good doing all of these things. He's not a scorer, but already has a career high three goals. Its the things that don't appear on a scoresheet that separates Andy at times. One of the hardest working players on the ice.

Did I miss someone? Leave a comment if have a different choice.