Though the Michigan hockey team was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament 13 days ago, Kyle Connor still had a chance to take home a trophy from Tampa today.
But that possibility didn’t come to fruition.
Instead, the freshman forward fell just short of the Hobey Baker Award — behind Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey.
“I thought it was a cool ceremony,” Connor said. “Obviously it was just two great players — I was with Thatcher and Jimmy. I don’t think (I was surprised). They’re both really deserving … congrats to Jimmy.”
Connor was unable to join the ranks of the Wolverines’ other two Hobey Baker winners — Brendan Morrison and Kevin Porter — but his performance this season was certainly worthy of consideration.
Despite having a slow start to the season, Connor’s game exploded in early December when he was switched to the first line with juniors JT Compher and Tyler Motte. Connor ended the regular season with 71 points and 35 goals, good for first nationally in both categories. And his line mates weren’t far behind, as Compher and Motte finished second and third in points, respectively.
Despite losing, Connor’s numbers were eerily similar to those of Jack Eichel — who won the Hobey Baker in 2015. Eichel notched 71 points in 40 games and averaged 1.77 points per game. Connor, on the other hand, boasted the same point total in two fewer games, averaging 1.87 points per game.
But Demko, the other finalist, and Vesey had impressive seasons in their on right.
Vesey finished sixth in the nation with 24 goals while also leading the Crimson in points with 46.
Demko posted a .935 save percentage and 1.88 goals against average, while leading his team to a Frozen Four appearance.
Now, only time will tell if Connor will get a second crack at the honor, as he has yet to announce if he will return for his sophomore season at Michigan.
“I’m still undecided,” Connor said. “I’m going to sit down with my family the next couple days here and work on the decision. (It’s about) what’s right for me and what’s best for my development.”