Dryden McKay received some recognition for his outstanding season on Friday, though it wasn’t the recognition Minnesota State men’s hockey fans were hoping for.
McKay was shut out on the two major awards for which he was a finalist.
The Mike Richter Award, given to the top goaltender in men’s college hockey, was presented to the University of Minnesota’s Jack LaFontaine.
The Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in men’s Division I college hockey, was presented to the University of Wisconsin’s standout sophomore forward Cole Caufield.
McKay was named a Second Team All-American, while LaFontaine was named the First Team All-America goalie. McKay, a First Team All-American a year ago, is MSU's first-ever two-time All-American.
The announcements came just 24 hours after Minnesota State fell to in-state rival St. Cloud State 5-4 on a last-minute goal in the national semifinals.
McKay, a 5-feet-11, 175-pound junior from Downers Grove, Illinois, became the first player in Minnesota State history to be a Hobey Hat Trick finalist as one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award.
“He’s unbelievable. I think everyone knows that,” Minnesota State sophomore forward Cade Borchardt said last week about McKay being nominated for national awards. “You can see what he brings to our team. It’s unbelievable having that feeling that he’s back there and you know he’s good for a couple of big saves every game, and a lot more.
“We’re all really excited for him. It’s a huge accomplishment.”
Boston College’s Spencer Knight was the other finalist for the Richter Award.
McKay’s season was certainly worthy of recognition for the sport’s top honors. The WCHA Player of the Year and WCHA Goaltender of the Year finished his junior season with a 21-4-0 record, a 1.55 goals-against average (second in the country) and a .924 save percentage.
“It was awesome,” McKay said on the NHL Network broadcast, of leading his team to the Frozen Four. “We had a great group of guys, a great senior class and all the way down. Everyone bought in and it was great to see all the support the people of Mankato gave us.
“We thought (the Frozen Four trip) was a long time coming and hopefully it’s just a small step for this program and a sign of things to come.”
McKay also led the country with 10 shutouts, giving him 24 for his career. That makes him the WCHA’s all-time shutouts leader and leaves him just two behind the NCAA’s all-time leader, former Michigan State goalie Ryan Miller, who recorded 26 in his career.
“It just speaks to the culture that coach Hastings has created here at Mankato,” McKay said after shutting out the University of Minnesota 4-0 in the NCAA West Region final on March 28 for his 10th shutout of the season. “I’ve had a ton of help between goalie coach Brennan Poderzay and the staff. Our style is to build from the (defensive) zone out, blocking shots, getting pucks out, not making risky plays.
“When your team does that, it makes your job easy.”
McKay has played in 97 games as a Maverick. He is 75-15-4 overall with a 1.49 GAA and a .934 career save percentage.
“It means a lot to the program,” MSU head coach Mike Hastings said last week in regards to McKay being named a finalist for the Richter Award and the Hobey Baker Award. “He’s put in a lot of work. (MSU associate head coach) Todd Knott, our recruiting coordinator, did a really good job of identifying Dryden. And Dryden has an insatiable appetite to get better. He’s done that every single year.”
McKay is named after one of the best goaltenders of all time — legendary Montreal Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden, who won six Stanley Cups in eight seasons in the NHL after playing four seasons at Cornell University.
McKay played in the famous Chicago Mission program for one year, as a 13-year-old in 2010-11, then played three seasons for the Chicago Young Americans program before landing a roster spot in the NAHL as a 16-year-old with the Springfield Jr. Blues. He was traded the following season, remaining in the NAHL with the Corpus Christi (Texas) Ice Rays, and he played one game with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers.
He made the Madison Capitols roster in the USHL in 2016-17 and stuck with them through the 2017-18 season.
He initially committed to Holy Cross, a Division I school that plays in Atlantic Hockey. But as his time in the USHL went along, he learned that recruiters from other colleges were still enamored of his play and wanted him to join their teams.
McKay decommitted from Holy Cross and in September of 2017 he gave MSU the thumbs up.
“If there’s one word I could throw out with Dryden other than ‘calm’ or ‘collected,’ it’d be ‘consistent,’” Hastings said. “He’s been consistent from the time he got in here. He was able to see an older goaltender in Mathias Israelsson (in 2018-19), on what you have to do to prepare before a practice or post-game, those types of things.
“Dryden took that experience and has utilized it to his benefit. He’s been our most consistent player over the last two years.”
LaFontaine went 22-7-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage for the Big Ten Conference postseason champion Gophers this season.
Hobey goes to Caufield
As has been speculated for months, the Hobey went to Wisconsin goal-scoring sensation Cole Caufield.
Caufield, a 5-feet-7, 165-pound sophomore forward from Stevens Point, Wis., had a spectacular season for the Badgers, scoring 28 goals and recording 49 points in 30 games. The Badgers, the regular season Big Ten Conference champions, finished 20-10-1 and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to Bemidji State.
Two days later, Caufield signed with the Montreal Canadiens.
North Dakota sophomore forward Shane Pinto was the third Hobey Hat Trick finalist. The NCHC Player of the Year, Pinto finished this season with 15 goals and 32 points for the Fighting Hawks, who lost a five-overtime classic against Minnesota Duluth in the NCAA tournament Midwest Region championship game on March 27.
Pinto signed with the Ottawa Senators last week.