ALBANY, N.Y. While Michigan”s season ended disappointingly last night, there is still promise for a silver lining for sophomore Andy Hilbert. Hilbert is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey”s best player.
The award will be presented today as part of the Frozen Four weekend in Albany.
Along with Hilbert stands Brian Gionta of Boston College, North Dakota”s Jeff Panzer and Michigan State”s Ryan Miller as finalists who competed this weekend.
Miller is widely regarded as the favorite for the award. In 1997, Brendan Morrison became the only Wolverine to ever win the award.
Should Hilbert”s name not get engraved on the Hobey, he can still boast that the American Hockey Coaches Association selected him as an All-American. While he is the only Michigan representative on the first team, defenseman Jeff Jillson and center Mike Cammalleri made the second team.
Going away: Michigan coach Red Berenson is probably hoping that Hilbert”s achievements this season will not be his last as a Wolverine. A 2000 draft pick by the Boston Bruins of the NHL, Hilbert could be leaving Michigan in the next few weeks to join the Bruins.
Jillson is also a candidate to leave early. He was expected to leave for San Jose before this season but he chose to return for another year. And during this season, he said that he threw around both possibilities all the time.
Goalie Josh Blackburn”s name has also been thrown around as someone possibly heading to the NHL.
“Josh Blackburn”s as fine a goalie as there is in college hockey,” Berenson said.
Also, Michigan is saying goodbye to an eight-member senior class that led the Wolverines to the national championship in 1998.
“It”ll be a big turnover year for our team,” Berenson said. “We had eight seniors and there”s always the possibility of losing one of your top underclassmen or two.
“But we”ve got a big freshman class coming in, and that will be fun for the coaches. And it will change the team a lot, but we”ve got some solid players coming back.”
Random notes: Boston College connected its name to a few NCAA Tournament records with the semifinal win. Scott Clemmensen tied former Michigan goalie Marty Turco with nine career tournament wins. He also broke the record for saves. Now with 322, he has one more than Brant Blair”s old record of 321 with one game left in his NCAA career.
Also interesting is the fact that in last year”s semifinal games North Dakota won 2-0 and Boston College won 4-3. This year the same scores, just with different opponents.
This will be the first time that the same two teams have played each other in the finals since 1975 and “76, when Michigan Tech faced Minnesota both years.