NCHC Individual Award Finalists Announced

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – After naming its inaugural All-Conference and All-Rookie teams on Wednesday, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) revealed the finalists for each of its eight individual specialty awards Thursday. The winners of the awards will be announced Thursday, March 20 at the NCHC Awards Celebration in Minneapolis on the eve of the inaugural NCHC Frozen Faceoff.

While seven of the eight individual awards have three finalists, NCHC Player of the Year has four finalists with two tying for the third spot. Nebraska Omaha junior forward Josh Archibald captured the NCHC scoring title with 32 points and a conference-best 21 goals. Denver senior goaltender Sam Brittain led the league with a .931 save percentage, starting 22 of 24 games. St. Cloud State senior forward Nic Dowd was second behind Archibald with 13 goals and totaled 25 points, while posting a +12 rating. Rounding out the finalists is North Dakota senior defenseman Dillon Simpson, who tied for the NCHC scoring title among defensemen with 19 points and tied for second in the NCHC with 55 blocked shots. All four finalists were members of the All-Conference First Team.

The Herb Brooks Coach of the Year finalists include Nebraska Omaha’s Dean Blais, North Dakota’s Dave Hakstol and St. Cloud State’s Bob Motzko. Blais guided the Mavericks to a third-place finish in the NCHC after being picked to finish last in the preseason poll. Hakstol led UND on a second-half turnaround that saw them finish runner-up in the NCHC while posting his 10th straight 20-win season. Motzko directed the Huskies to the inaugural NCHC regular-season title while SCSU has been a top-five team nationally for much of the season.

Up for NCHC Forward of the Year are Archibald, Miami junior Austin Czarnik, and Dowd. Archibald scored eight more goals and tallied five more points than any other player in conference play, while tallying two hat tricks. Czarnik, a First-Team All-NCHC selection, totaled 22 points in NCHC play and finished second in the conference with 17 assists. Dowd tied Archibald with an NCHC-best seven power play goals while his 25 points were sixth in conference play.

The Defenseman of the Year finalists include Denver junior Joey LaLeggia, Simpson and St. Cloud State junior Andrew Prochno. LaLeggia led a DU penalty kill that finished second in NCHC play at 88.2 percent while adding 13 points in just 19 games. Of Simpson’s 19 points, six were goals, tying for the NCHC lead among defensemen, while he captained UND’s penalty kill to third in the NCHC at 82.4 percent and averaged 2.29 blocked shots per game. Prochno led all defensemen and tied for second overall with a +14 rating while chipping in 12 points in 20 games.

Backing up those defensemen are the Goaltender of the Year finalists, hailing from the same teams. Brittain posted two shutouts in NCHC play to tie for the league lead while his 2.30 goals-against average was third. St. Cloud State junior Ryan Faragher backstopped the Huskies to the Penrose Cup, while finishing with an NCHC-best 14 wins in 23 conference games and a .915 save percentage that ranked fourth. North Dakota sophomore Zane Gothberg recorded the top GAA in the conference at 2.26 and recorded two shutouts to tie Brittain, while his .922 save percentage was second behind Brittain.

Bringing youth to their teams, the finalists for Rookie of the Year are Nebraska Omaha forward Jake Guentzel, Denver forward Trevor Moore and Colorado College defenseman Jaccob Slavin, all of whom were named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team. Guentzel led all rookies and ranked second overall with 27 points in league play while his 21 assists led all NCHC players. Moore ranked fourth among freshmen with 18 points, including seven goals, two of which were game-winners. Slavin tied Simpson for the NCHC defenseman scoring title with 19 points, which was third among all rookies, while leading all freshmen with 47 blocked shots.

Slavin is also one of three finalists for Offensive Defenseman of the Year, along with LaLeggia and Simpson. LaLeggia scored six goals to tie Simpson for the most among defensemen, while averaging 0.68 points per game in 19 contests. Of Slavin’s 19 points, five were goals, including three on the power play. Six of Simpson’s 19 points were goals, with five coming on the power play, while he had 10 power play points in conference play.

Rounding out the individual awards is the Defensive Forward of the Year, for which Western Michigan senior Chase Balisy, Dowd and Colorado College senior Alexander Krushelnyski are finalists. Balisy was a Second-Team All-Conference selection, who tied for the NCHC lead with two short-handed goals in conference play while leading the NCHC with a +16 rating. Dowd ranked fifth in conference play with his +12 rating, while blocking 19 shots to tie for seventh among forwards in NCHC action. Krushelnyski scored two short-handed goals in non-conference play and is the NCAA career leader in the category, while he blocked eight shots in conference play.

Finalists were determined based on voting by the conference’s head coaches and one student-athlete from each team with the top three vote-getters (plus ties) being finalists.


Player of the Year
Josh Archibald, Jr., F, Nebraska Omaha
Sam Brittain, Sr., G, Denver
Nic Dowd, Sr., F, St. Cloud State
Dillon Simpson, Sr., D, North Dakota

Herb Brooks Coach of the Year
Dean Blais, Nebraska Omaha
Dave Hakstol, North Dakota
Bob Motzko, St. Cloud State

Forward of the Year
Josh Archibald, Jr., Nebraska Omaha
Austin Czarnik, Jr., Miami
Nic Dowd, Sr., St. Cloud State

Defenseman of the Year
Joey LaLeggia, Jr., Denver
Dillon Simpson, Sr., North Dakota
Andrew Prochno, Jr., St. Cloud State

Goaltender of the Year
Sam Brittain, Sr., Denver
Ryan Faragher, Jr., St. Cloud State
Zane Gothberg, So., North Dakota

Rookie of the Year
Jake Guentzel, F, Nebraska Omaha
Trevor Moore, F, Denver
Jaccob Slavin, D, Colorado College

Offensive Defenseman of the Year
Joey LaLeggia, Jr., Denver
Dillon Simpson, Sr., North Dakota
Jaccob Slavin, Fr., Colorado College

Defensive Forward of the Year
Chase Balisy, Sr., Western Michigan
Nic Dowd, Sr., St. Cloud State
Alexander Krushelnyski, Sr., Colorado College