Hobey 2023 is a B1G deal with Matthew Knies, Logan Cooley and Adam Fantilli named finalists
Two from Minnesota and one from Michigan are the trio remaining in contention for college hockey's top individual honor, which will be handed out April 7 in Tampa.
MINNEAPOLIS – You’ve heard all of the talk about how, in a decade as the first multi-sport conference that sponsors men’s hockey, the Big Ten hasn’t measured up. But as two teams head to Tampa for the Frozen Four, seeking the first national title by a member of the conference since 2007, it is guaranteed that the highest individual honor in the game will be heading back up north, to Big Ten country, when the tournament is done.
The three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award – named after a legendary player from Princeton who dazzled fans in the early 1900s before his tragic death in World War I – announced on Thursday are Minnesota forward Logan Cooley, Michigan forward Adam Fantilli and Minnesota forward Matthew Knies, all of whom have been honored by the Big Ten already this season for their on-ice work.
Cooley, who was one of the most highly-touted recruits in the history of the Gophers program, leads the team offensively heading into the Frozen Four with 20 goals and 37 assists. Picked third overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2022 NHL Draft, Cooley has been on a particular tear in March, and was named to the Fargo Regional’s all-tournament team after posting a goal and an assist in the Gophers’ 4-1 win over St. Cloud State in their most recent outing. He is originally from Pittsburgh and is looking to become the Gophers’ fifth Hobey winner. Neal Broten won the inaugural award in 1981, followed by Robb Stauber in 1988, Brian Bonin in 1996 and Jordan Leopold in 2002.
Congratulations Adam Fantilli! He is a Hobey Hat Trick Finalist!#Fantilli4Hobey #GoBlue〽️ pic.twitter.com/dy9vlDn4EV— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) March 30, 2023
Fantilli, who is from a small town outside Toronto, burst onto the college hockey scene this season and has been a prolific scorer for the Wolverines when healthy. He was named the Big Ten freshman of the year and scored the tying goal late in Michigan’s come-from-behind win over Penn State in their regional title game. Fantilli began his college career on a seven-game point streak, and heads into the Frozen Four leading the nation offensively. Many draft analysts predict he will be one of the first three selections in the 2023 NHL Draft. He would be Michigan’s third Hobey winner following Brendan Morrison in 1997 and Kevin Porter in 2008.
Knies, from suburban Phoenix, followed his breakout freshman season by taking his game up a notch as a sophomore. Named the most valuable player in the Big Ten, he leads the nation with seven game-winning goals and has repeatedly brought fans to their feet at home and on the road with a combination of size and skill that is rare in the college game. Picked by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round of the 2021 NHL Draft, Knies is already getting hype as a possible addition to their roster for the coming playoffs, if he chooses to forgo his remaining college eligibility and sign a professional contract. Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas has been in attendance at several Gophers games this season, most recently at the Fargo Regional final.
The winner will be revealed on Friday, April 7 at Sparkman Wharf, near Amalie Arena on the Tampa waterfront. It will be an outdoor event that is open to the public, during the off day of the Frozen Four weekend.
Created in 1981 by the since-closed Decathlon Athletic Club in Bloomington, Minn., the award's eventual winner is decided by a panel of coaches, media and scouts via a secret ballot. Envisioned as a tribute to Baker, who was known for gentlemanly play as much as for his skill, the criteria for the award includes things like strength of character, outstanding skills, scholastic achievement and sportsmanship.
The skater depicted on the trophy was modeled after former Gopher and 1980 Olympic standout Steve Christoff. Minnesota State Mankato goaltender Dryden McKay won the trophy in 2022.