The Hobey Baker Memorial Award announced Friday the 2008 recipient of college hockey's top individual prize is Kevin Porter from the University of Michigan.
The announcement came during the NCAA Frozen Four Tournament at Pepsi Center in Denver as part of the Friday at the Frozen Four festivities.
The senior captain of Michigan becomes only the second Wolverine to garner the award; Brendan Morrison was selected in 1997. Porter entered the Frozen Four after a phenomenal weekend at the East Regional in which he factored in six of the seven goals Michigan scored, bagging five goals and one assist, including a four-goal performance in a 5-1 win over Niagara.
The Hobey Baker Award, named for the legendary Princeton hockey player who died testing a repaired aircraft at the end of World War I, recognizes strength of character both on and off the ice. Porter was selected from a group of 10 finalists by the votes of a 25-member selection committee, along with the results of an online fan ballot.
Michigan entered the Frozen Four tournament as the No. 1 seed, an unlikely scenario in October when 24-year head coach Red Berenson greeted his largest freshman class ever - 12 brand-new faces. The outstanding leadership of Porter guided Michigan to the CCHA regular season and playoff championships. So superior were his efforts that Porter was named the leagues' Player of the Year and was a finalist for the CCHA's Best Defensive Forward. The First Team CCHA honoree was named the Hockey Commissioners January National Player of the Month.
Following Thursday's loss in the national semifinals, Porter finished second in the nation in scoring with 63 points in 43 games. He is presently tied for the lead in goals with 33 goals, including 15 power-play tallies (second in the nation.) The Phoenix draft pick scored points in all but six games this season and had a remarkable 18 multiple-point games.
Porter is a general studies major from Northville and finds time to make personal visits at Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor and volunteers for various Make-A-Wish Foundation events.
On how he feels being named the Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner ... "It's tough to describe. It's an amazing honor, and to be put in the category with the past players that have won (the Hobey Baker Award) and even (fellow Hobey Hat Trick finalists) Nathan Gerbe and Ryan Jones, both tremendous players, is a great feeling."
On what it means to his team and to his family to win the Hobey Baker Award ... "I think winning it is a testament to how well our team did this year. Without them I wouldn't have been in the top 10 or the final three (for the award). My linemates, Chad Kolarik and Max Pacioretty were unbelievable all year. I think those guys even should have been in the top 10, if not the top three. My family -- their support and encouragement has been amazing ever since I put on the skates when I was two years old. To win this, I think it means a lot to them as well."
On deciding to stay for four years and becoming a role model for other student-athletes ... "My four years at Michigan have been amazing -- the best four years of my life. And not just hockey-wise, but off the ice you meet some of your best friends, your life-long friends, you're graduating from the University of Michigan, one of the best universities in the country. I don't think it was a hard decision to make when I decided to come back for my senior season."
Photo courtesy Candace Horgan/USCHO