The Hobey Hat Trick – the three finalists for the 37th Hobey Baker Award – was announced Thursday and for the tenth straight year a player from Hockey East was among the finalists.
Northeastern senior Zach Aston-Reese leads the country in goals and is this year’s Hockey East representative. Aston-Reese is joined by Union senior forward Mike Vecchione and Denver senior defensemen Will Butcher.
The award is college hockey’s version of the Heisman and is presented annually to the nation’s best player in college hockey, based on skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, and sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.
Aston-Reese, now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, was the Hockey East Player of the Year after leading the nation with 31 goals and being a part of a three-way tie for most points with 63.
— Northeastern MHKY (@GoNUmhockey) March 20, 2017
Aston-Reese is a Staten Island, N.Y. native who came to Massachusetts to play college hockey while fellow finalist Vecchione is a Saugus, Mass. native who went to New York to continue his college career at Union. Vecchione is tied with Aston-Reese with a national best 63 points on 29 goals and 34 assists. The Malden Catholic graduate was ECAC Player of the Year and finished as Union’s career leader in points and assists. He’s the first Dutchman to be named a Hat Trick finalist.
“It’s an honor to be a part of the Hobey Hat Trick alongside two elite players. I’m extremely proud to represent Union in Chicago,” Vecchione said in a statement released by Union. “I want to thank my family, friends, teammates and coaches who have always supported me and who ensured that I would never be complacent.”
Butcher is the only finalist still playing as the senior captained a Denver team that reached the
Frozen Four and will play Norte Dame in the national semifinals next Thursday. The Sun Prairie, Wis. native has the chance to be the first defenseman to win the award since Boston University’s Matt Gilroy in 2009.
“I’m honored to be one of the three finalists for the Hobey,” Butcher told the Denver Post. “It is a prestigious award and I couldn’t have done it without the support from everyone who had helped me along the way – especially me teammates here at DU.”
The winner will be announced April 7 at the Frozen Four in Chicago. Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey – currently a member of the New York Rangers – won the Hobey Baker in 2016.