Hobey Hoax


Nick Nelson / Dakota Student

Within the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), no players on the UND men’s hockey team were submitted to be Hobey Maker nominees this year

Nick Erickson, Sports Writer

The candidates for the coveted Hobey Baker were recently announced and Fighting Hawks fans were left collectively scratching their heads in confusion. The list lacked any University of North Dakota representation.

Specifically a few individual fans on Facebook. One account claimed to have discussed this lack of UND representation with the Hobey Baker committee themselves. The account also claimed the response they received from the Hobey Baker committee was informing them that there were no players submitted by the University of North Dakota’s Athletic Department.

The blame was quickly pointed to that of former Athletic Director Brian Faison from commenters. This however, isn’t the case. There is an explanation for this and it is less sinister than the fans on Facebook are suggesting.

After an email exchange with UND Athletic Director Jayson Hajdu, the rumor that it was the Athletics Department at UND that didn’t nominate any of the players was quickly debunked.

“Candidates are indeed selected by the head coach (and then submitted by the media relations/sports information department),” Hajdu said.  

Some fans were so willing to accept a negative outcome from the UND Athletics Department that they even made remarks of outrage on the Athletics Department’s recent Facebook posts.

UND has remarkable players this season and there is no doubt about that. Cam Johnson is one of the top goaltenders in the NCHC this year and Grant Mismash has put up a successful and impressive rookie season.

It certainly is a testament to the hockey culture around Grand Forks to see how quickly people were willing to become upset with the lack of representation in this year’s Hobey Baker race.  

Fear not hockey fans.

“It was determined that this year’s team, even more so than in recent years, is about the team itself and there isn’t a standout candidate to put forward at this time,” Hajdu said.

This is something that all UND hockey fans should look to and admire about this year’s competitive environment surrounding the team. It’s not about an individual player, but the team is more focused on being a better team rather than developing standout players.

At 12-6-6 this season, the team has had some really impressive efforts so far and is hoping to continue that team-first mentality with the second half of the season in full swing. Not all hope is lost. We may still see some UND players in the race for the Hobey Baker later on this year.

“Not being selected for the fan vote process does not preclude a player from being named a finalist by the committee,” Hajdu said. “The two are not inextricably tied and that process will still play itself out down the line.”

There were a total of 74 nominees for this year’s fan voting portion of the Hobey Baker. Michael Bitzer of Bemidji State was one of the nominations.

UND just finished a split home and away series with the 11-7-6 Bemidji State Beavers, thoroughly routing the Beavers in Bemidji, then ultimately tying them at home at the Ralph Engelstad Arena.  

Bemidji was a solid out-of-conference test for the Hawks as they had been on a nine game unbeaten streak until UND made the quick bus trip down and back on Highway 2, routing them for a 5-1 victory.

Other familiar faces to UND in the race included Minnesota Gopher Casey Mittelstadt while Denver had three nominations of Henrik Borgstrom, Troy Terry and Dylan Gambrell. Every NCHC team was represented by one or more players with the exception of North Dakota

If anything can be learned from this it’s that the message Berry is sending is that UND has a team first mentality for this season and there isn’t a single player that takes the crown.

Nick Erickson is a sports writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected]