College hockey’s biggest award had its nominees announced on Monday morning as three former Penticton Vees are in the running for the prestigious Hobey Baker Award, given to college hockey’s top player.
Forward Grant Cruikshank (2016-18), goaltender Jack LaFontaine (2018-19) and forward Taylor Ward (2015-18) have been nominated for the award as part of 50 of the top players from around college hockey. Voting has begun as fans have a chance to voice their selections in the first round of voting, running until Sunday, March 7th.
Cruikshank is in his junior season at Colorado College, wearing the ‘C’ on his jersey for the second straight year as a co-captain. The Delafield, Wisconsin native has registered 6 goals and 2 assists for 8 points in 10 games with the Tigers, while amassing 28 goals and 43 points in 84 games with the program. Cruikshank spent two seasons with the Vees, producing 43 goals and 31 assists for 74 points in 82 games, including a trip to the RBC Cup in 2017.
LaFontaine has been one of the best goaltenders to man the crease in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) this season, leading the University of Minnesota to 13 wins in his 16 appearances. The Mississauga, Ontario native has compiled a 1.38 goals against average and a .948 save percentage in those 16 contests with 3 shutouts in his senior season with the Golden Gophers, wearing an ‘A’ on his jersey as well. LaFontaine played a key part in his season in Penticton during the 2018/19 campaign, winning 30 games with a 2.19 GAA and a .923 save percentage with 3 shutouts as well in 45 games played.
Ward has been a standout in his time with the University of Nebraska-Omaha, scoring 33 goals and 67 points in 83 games over his three-year tenure with the Mavericks. This season, the Kelowna, BC native has 8 goals and 5 assists for 13 points in 16 games while being named an assistant captain with the program. Ward spent three seasons in a Vees jersey, scoring 36 goals and 41 assists for 71 points while suiting up in 162 games and joining Cruikshank in 2017 as a BC Hockey League champion and a trip to the RBC Cup in Cobourg, Ontario.
The top-10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award will be announced on Wednesday, March 17th while the final three candidates, titled the “Hobey Baker Hat Trick”, will be released on Thursday, April 1st. The award winner will be named on Friday, April 9th. Head to hobeybaker.com/vote to cast your vote.