Hobey Baker winner Dryden McKay returns to Mankato, thanks fans for support, loyalty
“Thank you for everything,” Dryden McKay told the crowd. “It was an incredible four years. I was lucky to play in front of the best fans in college hockey.”
MANKATO, Minn. — After the ceremony had ended the student section at the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center started chanting.
“Four more years! … Four more years!”
This was not an endorsement of an incumbent president. But there’s no doubt Dryden McKay could win just about any election in Mankato.
What a four years it was for McKay, the 2022 Hobey Baker Award winner as the top men’s college hockey player last season. On Thursday night, prior to Minnesota State’s game against CCHA and in-state rival Bemidji State, McKay appeared, along with the Hobey and a small entourage, to be recognized for winning the award last April in Boston.
“Thank you for everything,” McKay told the crowd. “It was an incredible four years. I was lucky to play in front of the best fans in college hockey.”
McKay, who now plays in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization , was able to get away from his professional duties for the ceremony, which included a banner drop in his honor prior to the game and an autograph session with fans afterward.
“It’s kind of weird being here and not on the team,” McKay said during an interview earlier Thursday. “But I get a little bit of closure from last year with the way the season ended up. I never really got to share this with the fans. Tonight is going to be awesome to allow people to be able to share this experience with me — because they’re such a big part of it too, with all their support over the years, Night in and night out, they were a big part of all our success and my success.”
If you missed the pre-game ceremony for 2022 Hobey Baker winner Dryden McKay last night, watch it here!— CCHA (@CCHAHockey) December 16, 2022
🎥: https://t.co/yRw1IaFMPQ#CCHAHockey pic.twitter.com/zlaP8qnIGO
McKay became just the third goaltender in the 42-year history of the award to win the Hobey, and it came 21 years after Michigan State’s Ryan Miller won in 2001. Robb Stauber was the first goalie to win it, capturing it for Minnesota in 1988. Thirty forwards and nine defensemen have won the award.
“Goalies gotta stick together,” McKay said. “Just to be mentioned with those names, but with other forwards and defensemen, too, it’s very humbling to see those names. I still don’t know if it’s really hit me yet,”
During his final season, McKay broke Miller’s career record of 26 shutouts and upped that number to 34 before he was done.
“I’ve been around hockey for awhile, and it dates me, but to think that the Miller shutout record was ever going to be touched, I didn’t think it was a possibility,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “For him to do that and the teams that he was part of, it’s historic.”
A three-time All-American, McKay set the single-season goalie wins record last season with 38 and ended up second all-time in career victories with 113 (Michigan’s Marty Turco holds the record with 127). He also backstopped the Mavericks to a pair of Frozen Four appearances, including last season’s national championship game, which Minnesota State lost to Denver.
Now a professional player, McKay has played the bulk of this season with the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers where he’s 6-3-1. He’s also played two games, going 1-0-1, with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
“I owe a bg thank you to the Marlies and the Growlers for letting me step away and have this day here with the Mavericks,” McKay said.
When McKay got to Minnesota State as a freshman in the fall of 2018, he never imagined he’d carve out one of the great all-time careers in college hockey. He shared time in goal during his first semester, but, starting around January of 2019, he rarely left the Mavericks’ net.
Tonight we celebrated Dryden McKay's Hobey Baker Award and his historic career at MSU. Thank you Dryden!@HobeyBakerAward @drydenmckay pic.twitter.com/mtorPoTnQj— Minnesota State Hockey (@MinnStMHockey) December 16, 2022
“Just like any other freshman, I was just hoping to be in the lineup,” he said. “But once you’re in the lineup, you want to stay in the lineup.”
McKay compiled a record of 113-20-3 with nearly a third of his wins coming by shutout. He led the Mavericks to four straight MacNaughton Cup titles (part of a stretch of five straight for the Mavericks), as well as two conference tournament titles and, of course, the two Frozen Four berths. In 138 games played, he had a .932 save percentage and a 1.46 goals-against average.
“He took a pen,” Hastings said, “and wrote some history for himself, for our community, for our program, for his family.”