Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mid-Season Awards: MVP (Men)

Last mid-season award to be decided here on the blog, MVP of the Men's team. Things looked pretty dire seven games into the season, and then a lot of pieces started to fall into play for the Badgers. The following four players were all big parts of that transformation to this point in one way or another.

Blake Geoffrion - On November 1st during the 3rd period against the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, Blake had two huge goals to contribute to a five goal 3rd, and the team hasn't looked back since. Blake added two goal games later against Tech and Duluth on consecutive weekends. When Ben Street went down w/ a possible season ending knee injury, the captain's duties fell squarely on Blake's shoulders, and he has lead the team since that point w/ great play in all facets of the game from EV to PP and PK. Blake leads the team in goals (8), PP goals (6) and is 4th in points (11). He also boasts a nice faceoff win % of 55.4%.

Shane Connelly - Shane' start to the season was very similar to the team's, a struggle. He wasn't getting a lot of help in front of the net, and the number of shots he was facing were unrealistic, especially for a Wisconsin team. As the season turned around, the number of shots, especially high quality shots dropping off, and Shane has been the backbone of the team in net. His overall stats are 2.65 GAA, w/ a 91.4% save %. In his last ten starts though, Shane GAA is down to 1.90 w/ two shutouts, and if you take out the six goal lapse against St. Cloud, he is down to 1.44 GAA roughly. There is still room for Shane to improve, making that one extra save, but if he keeps playing like this, I like Wisconsin's chances come March.

Jamie McBain - Similar to everyone else, Jamie had a bad start to the season. He was trying to do too much, and hindered the team in the process. When he settled down, great things occurred including great defense and outstanding offensive contributions. For most of the season, the PP has been rolling along making opponents pay for a trip to the box, and Jamie has been the main QB running the show. He leads the team in points (19) and assists (16). He is still last in +/- (-12), but a lot of that was racked up early on, and slowly he is bringing that number down. Jamie is tied for 1st in the WCHA in points and 1st in assists. He keeps this up, All-American honors should be coming his way.

Tom Gorowsky - What a story Tom is this season. Not only did he not play in the first four games of the season, he didn't even make the trips w/ the team. Everything changed when Ben Street and Aaron Bendickson were injuried and a forward spot needed to be filled; insert Tom Gorowsky. Tom is the feel good story of the Wisconsin season ever since. I continue to wonder why he wasn't in the lineup consistently the last few seasons? Tom's best in a scoring role, and his time on the top two lines and on the PP have shown that he can contribute on the scoreboard. Tom is tied for 3rd in goals (5), is 3rd in PP goals (3) and tied 5th in points (10). I'd argue that Tom's insertion into the lineup following Street's injury was the senior leadership the team needed. I look forward to seeing how the rest of Tom's Badger career plays out over the next few months.