While I will be the first to admit that I look at things through scarlet colored lenses, it is hard to argue with the 2017 ECAC Hockey awards selections.
For the Saints, Kyle Hayton became the first SLU winner of the Ken Dryden Award as the league’s outstanding goalie since 1999 and Gavin Bayreuther earned first team All ECAC for the second straight year despite missing several games with an injury. Add in Eric Sweetman’s selection as the league’s outstanding defensive defenseman in the media poll, and it was a pretty good year.
In the course of my 40 years at St. Lawrence, there have been a number of outstanding players who have reaped major recognition in year-end awards. We had our first two Hobey Baker Award finalists in the same year in Kyle Flanagan and Greg Carey in 2013 and Carey became SLU’s first “Hobey Hat Trick” finalist (one of the top three candidates) in 2014. Pete Lappin and Dan Laperriere were both among the top candidates for the award before the Hobey Hat Trick was established and are among seven players who have earned ECAC Player of the Year honors. They are also among 35 individuals who have earned All America honors, seven of them twice.
But, not every deserving player has his name on a trophy or All America certificate for one reason or another. Surprisingly, none of SLU’s leading pro players were highly decorated collegians. Gary Croteau (684 games among five NHL teams), Jamie Baker (404 NHL games) and Rich Peverley (442 NHL games) have just Croteau’s 1968 All ECAC award among them. Baker would have certainly been among the major award candidates in his senior year of 1989, but had his season curtailed by an injury in December. He was averaging over two points per game at the time of his injury with 11 goals and 16 assists in 13 games and was coming off a 54 point season as a junior.
Other players with significant SLU career accomplishments have not received the national or league recognition they probably deserved. Sometimes it was who else was in the league at a given time at the same position and in other cases team success may have impacted their opportunities.
One of the biggest omissions, in my mind at least, was Mike Gellard in 2001. Gellard was first-team All ECAC, the ECAC Outstanding Defensive Forward and led both the ECAC and Hockey East in scoring, but did not make the All America team. Teammates Eric Anderson, who was ECAC Player of the Year and a Hobey Baker finalist, and Matt Desrosiers, the leader of an outstanding defensive unit did both make the first team, but Gellard was left off the list.
Others who through my tinted lenses should have received greater recognition include Doug Crawford, fourth on the Saint all-time scoring list with 183 points and Paul DiFrancesco, who is fifth with 180. DiFrancesco was second-team All ECAC twice while Crawford was a good player on teams which did not have as strong a record in a bigger ECAC. The list could continue…and I will probably get an email or two which would suggest had the SID put a little more effort into it, “Player X” would have been all-world despite scoring just 15 points in his career…but kudos to those who did make post-season honors in the past and to those who have more honors to come.