ST. PAUL, Minn. – For the first time in school history, Wisconsin has two finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as junior defenseman Brendan Smith and senior forward Blake Geoffrion are among the 10 players named finalists for award. The award honors college hockey’s top player.
The only defenseman among the top-10 finalists, Smith happens to be the nation's leading scorer on defense with 15 goals, 29 assists, 44 points and a 1.22 points-per-game average. The WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and an All-WCHA First Team selection, Smith ranks in the top 17 nationally among all players in points-per-game and assists-per-game. He also ranks tied for 18th in the nation with four game-winning goals, tied for sixth with 11 power-play goals and tied for 12th with 22 power-play points.
He’s shown himself to be head and shoulders about the nation’s defensemen on the offensive end of the ice, outscoring the nation’s next closest rear guard by nine points and the next closest WCHA blue liner by 16 points.
When Smith has been good in 2009-10, so have the Badgers as the team is 11-1-0 when he scores and 14-1-2 when he's a plus player. He’s second on the team lead with 13 multi-point games and three multi-goal games and tied for the team lead with a seven-game scoring streak. Smith also posted a five-game scoring streak and has scored at least three points in seven games this season.
The first UW defenseman with a 40-point regular season since the 1992-93 regular season, he’s just the second UW blue liner to break into double figures in power play goals and sits two short of the UW record for defenseman of 13 set by Ron Griffin in the 1979-80 season.
Smith's 44 points are so prolific; his total is more than the entire defensive corps of four teams -- Bowling Green, Connecticut, Army and American International. He is also within four points of three additional teams -- Brown, Alabama-Huntsville and Western Michigan.
A three-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Week and the WCHA's December nominee for national player of the month, Smith was a first-round draft pick and the 27th overall selection of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
Geoffrion, one of Wisconsin’s tri-captains and the team’s vocal leader, led the WCHA with 19 goals and a 1.36 points per game scoring average in league games. His 34 league points were one point off the WCHA scoring lead, but he played in three less games than the WCHA scoring champion. He’s used his 24.7 percent shooting percentage to currently share for the overall league lead with 23 goals and ranks second in the WCHA with 12 power play goals. His 0.68 goals per game are good for sixth in the country.
An all-around forward, and All-WCHA First Team pick, Geoffrion is Wisconsin’s top faceoff man and currently sits at 58.0 percent on draws (480-348). He leads the Badgers with three short-handed points.
Geoffrion was named an Insidecollegehockey.com National Player of the Week and WCHA Co-Offensive Player of the Week on Feb. 16 for his seven-point weekend in a sweep over Minnesota State. He scored a goal and recorded points on each UW goal in a 4-3 victory on Feb. 12, then had two goals and an assist on the game-winner in an 8-4 victory the following day. Other season highlights include a two-goal performance in a 3-3 tie against then-No. 1 Denver and his first career hat trick against Michigan Tech.
The Nashville second-round draft pick has been at his best in big games. In 13 games played against the top five teams in the WCHA, he tallied eight goals and 15 points.
Finally, Geoffrion eclipsed two milestones this season, reaching 100 career points with an assist on Feb. 19 against St. Cloud State and scoring his 50th career goal on March 13 against Alaska Anchorage.
Smith and Geoffrion’s selection as finalists makes this the first time in UW history the school has produced two Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalists in the same season. They are the also the ninth and 10th finalists for the school. A Wisconsin player has never won the Hobey award.
Joining the two Badgers as finalists for the 2010 Hobey are another set of WCHA teammates – left winger Rhett Rahkshani and goaltender Marc Cheverie from Denver. The league has had 13 winners of the 29 winners, including six since 2002.
The group of 10 will be trimmed to three Hat Trick finalists to be announced March 31. The winner will be revealed April 9 during the NCAA Frozen Four in Detroit.
UW had four other players recognized by the league. Junior defenseman and tri-captain Ryan McDonagh was named to the second team, senior right winger Michael Davies to the third team, while defenseman Justin Schultz and right winger Craig Smith were named to the all-rookie team.