Third time is a charm for Mavericks' Dryden McKay, who claims the 2022 Hobey
For just the third time in the 40-plus years the Hobey Baker Award has been handed out, a goalie was named the top player in college hockey, as Minnesota State Mankato star Dryden McKay claimed the trophy.
BOSTON – In his third crack at college hockey’s top individual honor, Minnesota State Mankato’s Dryden McKay became just the third goalie to win the Hobey Baker Award on a sunny Friday afternoon in Boston.
Before the winner was announced, McKay’s father Ross joked that in naming his son after legendary Montreal Canadiens puck stopper Ken Dryden, the destiny of this senior from suburban Chicago was maybe preordained.
“That wasn’t the plan. The plan was just to have a cool name for your kid,” said Ross McKay, who was a goalie himself and played one game for the NHL’s Hartford Whalers. “He wasn’t supposed to live up to the name. It’s unbelievable that he ended up here.”
McKay had been a finalist for the award as a sophomore and as a junior, and finally won the trophy after backstopping the Mavericks to the NCAA title game, where they will face Denver on Saturday night. He acknowledged that it’s hard for a goalie to win this award, up against forwards and the eye-popping things they often do with the puck.
“It’s something that I’ve been battling against for a while now, since juniors, probably. There’s always going to be somebody who’s thought of as better than you, or whatever it may be,” said Dryden McKay, who is a free agent. “I learned to focus on myself, to control myself and be a good teammate.”
McKay now joins Minnesota’s Robb Stauber (1988) and Michigan State’s Ryan Miller (2001) as the only goalies to win the Hobey, which was first awarded in 1981 to Gophers forward Neal Broten.
Denver forward Bobby Brink and Gophers forward Ben Meyers were the runners-up for the Hobey. Both men were the MVPs of their respective conferences. McKay has been the Mavericks everyday goalie for the past three years and has posted an impressive 34 shutouts in his career.
“He’s done a lot of heavy lifting for our program, so it’s nice to see him acknowledged for that,” Mavericks coach Mike Hastings said. “He’s one of the most humble athletes I’ve ever been around, with some pretty good accomplishments. I’m happy for him.”
Maybe the biggest surprise of the event came when former New York Rangers and Wisconsin star Mike Richter announced that Devon Levi of Northeastern had won the award which bears Richter’s name, given to college hockey’s top goalie. It was thought of as a two-horse race between Levi and McKay. With McKay being a top three finalist for the Hobey, he was thought by some to have the edge over Levi. Former Gophers goalie Jack LaFontaine won the Richter in 2021.
After his team fell to Western Michigan in their NCAA tournament opener, Levi said he has attended the Frozen Four games in Boston and used part of his acceptance speech to announce he will return for a third year of college rather than signing with Buffalo, which owns his rights.
“It was crazy. It was really, really cool. I was dying to get out there, just sitting in my seat,” said Levi, who is from Quebec. “I can use that as motivation to help the team be on that ice next year … I don’t think anyone has ever said a player stayed in college too long.”
Former Fargo Force forward Jordan Seyfert, now at Merrimack, won the Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award, and related a story about his father’s health struggles while he was away at college. He was a member of Fargo’s 2018 USHL title team, and played with Meyers there.
“I learned a lot, and a lot of flat land, for sure,” Seyfert joked about his time in Fargo. “I give a lot of credit to the boys that were there. We had a lot of fun times off the rink and that’s what kept me excited to be there and to win a championship, which we ended up doing.”
Josh Kosack, a senior forward at Union, won the Hockey Humanitarian Award, recognizing his efforts to raise more than $50,000 in donations to buy Christmas presents for children.
The Hobey’s annual award banquet and golf outing will be August 11 at the Royal Golf Club in Lake Elmo, Minnesota. Long-time North Dakota coach John ‘Gino’ Gasparini will be honored as a Legend of College Hockey this year.