BOSTON – Minnesota State Mankato secured its first berth in the NCAA men's Frozen Four championship game on Thursday night, and a day later, the Mavericks got another first:
Their first Hobey Baker Award winner in goalie Dryden McKay.
McKay received the honor as the top player in college hockey at the Encore Boston Harbor as the headliner of the Friday Night at the Frozen Four event. The senior from Downers Grove, Ill., beat out the other two Hobey Hat Trick finalists: Gophers center Ben Meyers of Delano and Denver forward Bobby Brink of Minnetonka. McKay and Brink will meet in Saturday night's championship game at TD Garden.
"It's an honor. We've made a lot of history the last couple of years with the program,'' McKay said. "It's one of the top up-and-coming programs in the country, and we continue to prove it year after year. If it wasn't me, it was going to be somebody else pretty soon with the direction the program is heading under Coach [Mike] Hastings.''
The three finalists were selected from the initial list of 10 candidates by the 30-member selection committee and an additional round of online fan voting. Criteria for the award include: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game; strength of character on and off the ice; sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.
McKay, a senior from Downers Grove, Ill., was a Hobey Hat Trick finalist last year and a three-time finalist for the Mike Richter Award as the nation's top goalie. McKay (38-4-0) set an NCAA record for wins in a season, ranks second in the nation with a 1.27 goals-against average, is tied for third with a .934 save percentage and is tied for second with 10 shutouts. His 34 career shutouts are an NCAA record.
"He's such a humble young man,'' Hastings said. "He does his business and earns the respect of his teammates, which in this day and age is something that's pretty unique. … He's OK pointing fingers when he gets patted on the back, and he'll point a thumb [at himself] when things aren't going well.''
Brink, a junior, leads the nation with 57 points and 43 assists. He was named NCHC Player of the Year and Forward of the Year after leading the Pioneers to a tie for the conference title. He was a second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2019 and helped the United States win the gold medal in the 2019 World Junior Championship.
Meyers, a junior, had 17 goals and 24 assists this season and was named Big Ten Player of the Year. Meyers played for Team USA in the Beijing Olympics and ranked second on the team with four points. Since returning from China, Meyers has six goals and nine assists in eight games, including the overtime goal to beat Massachusetts 4-3 in the Worcester Regional semifinal, plus three assists in the NCAA Worcester Regional. A standout two-way center, Meyers won 57.4% of his faceoffs.
- Minnesota State's McKay and forward Nathan Smith were named to the American Hockey Coaches Association All-America first team. Joining them were Brink, Michigan forward Matty Beniers, Western Michigan defenseman Ronnie Attard and North Dakota defenseman Jake Sanderson.
Meyers made the West All-America second team, as did his former Delano High School teammate, Michigan Tech forward Brian Halonen. Also on the team are Minnesota Duluth goalie Ryan Fanti, Michigan defensemen Will Power and Luke Hughes and Western Michigan forward Ethen Frank.
- Northeastern's Devon Levi won the Mike Richter Award as the top goalie in Division I men's hockey, beating out McKay and Quinnipiac's Yaniv Perets.
Levi went 21-10-1 with a nation's-best .952 save percentage and a 1.54 goals-against average, which ranked third. His 10 shutouts were tied for second with McKay.
Levi also won the Tim Taylor Award as Rookie of the Year.
- Senior forward Josh Kosack of Union won the Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented annually to the player who most personifies true community spirit through the selfless commitment of leadership, effort and time. Among the other finalists were Minnesota Duluth senior forward Gabbie Hughes of Lino Lakes and St. Mary's senior goalie Jordan Keeley of St. Peter, Minn.
- The Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award went to Merrimack's Jordan Seyfert.