Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mid-Season Awards: Top Frosh (Men)

The first half is done and its time for some mid-season awards. Good place to start is w/ the freshman. Who has had the biggest impact on the team through 18 games? Who has made the best transition from their previous team (USHL, HS, Shattuck)? All seven players have seen the ice, so I’m going to include all of them. I think the freshman class as a whole has done very well this season, and I’ll have more analysis on that before the 2nd half of the season begins.

Jake Gardiner – The young defenseman has made a great transition from the MN HS ranks. W/ his recent switch to the blue line, I was worried that Jake would be a liability on defense, but he has been pretty good. On offense, he’s started to show why he was a 1st round pick of the Anaheim Ducks this summer. His skating ability is amazing, and he has the makings of a great PP QB like Jamie McBain. He is tied for 2nd on the team in assists. Stats: 17 games, 0-9-9, +4

Chris Hickey – Chris hasn’t seen a ton of action this season, playing in only four games, but he’s made the most of those minutes. He scored a big goal in Duluth, his first as a Badger, and worked hard on the 4th line. Stats: 4 games, 1-0-1, +1

Ryan Little – The one thing that sticks out about Ryan is the huge hits he has handed out so far this season. He is a little guy too, not a big bruiser. He’s made some freshman mistakes, but overall his play has been solid. Ryan and Eric Springer have a nice rotation going, w/ both freshmen seeing decent ice time. Stats: 12 games, 0-2-2, -1

Jordy Murray – It didn’t take long for Jordy to make an impact this season, scoring early in the season on the road. While his scoring has cooled off some, Jordy is seeing a lot of ice time on special teams. He’s regularly skated w/ the 2nd PP unit and spent a lot of time on the PK. Stats: 18 games, 4-4-8, +4

Eric Springer – Similar to Ryan Little, Eric has made some freshman mistakes, but overall is a solid contributor on the blue line. Eric has steadily improved, and is looking pretty good out on the ice as of late. Either he’s lucky or consistent, but Eric leads the team in +/-. Stats: 7 games, 1-1-2, +8

Derek Stepan – For large parts of the season, Derek has been pretty quiet. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as he really hasn’t made many mistakes for a freshman, and at times it looks like he’s played in the WCHA for several seasons. The 2nd round pick of the NY Rangers is starting to light up the scoreboard coming off his best series, w/ a goal and three assists. He is tied for 2nd on the team in assists and is 3rd in points. Stats: 18 games, 3-9-12, -5

Matt Thurber – As my favorite freshman, I have high expectations for Matt, and I think he’s doing just fine adjusting to the WCHA. He was one of the top playmakers in the USHL last season, and he’s starting to show this off w/ some great passes and decision making. He’s been solid in face-offs, and is one of the top PK forwards on the team. Stats: 17 games, 2-5-7, +3

It was a close race in the pre-season voting: Stepan 26%, Thurber 25%, Gardiner 18%.