Hometown Hero Connolly Leads Bulldogs into Playoffs

By KBJR News 1

March 16, 2012 Updated Mar 16, 2012 at 10:32 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- With a conference-leading 43 points in 28 WCHA games this year, Jack Connolly appeared an obvious choice for player of the year --- to everyone except the man himself.

"It's definitely cool. I wasn't really expecting it too much," Connolly said of the award. "I owe a lot of it to my teammates and my coaches. They've put me in a great position to be successful. We've got great guys on the ice, every shift, and without them none of my success would be possible. I owe a lot of it to those guys, but it's definitely a cool award to have."

For the Bulldogs, this is just another in a long line of well-deserved accolades for their senior captain.

"I've been the beneficiary of some good offensive teams in my time here, and this year is no different," UMD senior goaltender Kenny Reiter said. "Kudos to Jack, he deserves all the recognition he's getting."

"It's so fun because every day in practice I'm a fan out there watching him with the puck," Bulldogs freshman forward Justin Crandall said. "A couple times, especially early on, he makes us look pretty silly, but he's been the greatest captain I've ever played for, and he's one of the most humble guys I've ever met."

"The amount of magic he can work, just watching him in practice is unbelievable," Bulldogs senior defenseman Brady Lamb said. "It's my fourth year with him here, and I'm still amazed at what he does."

Another thing he might do is win the 2012 Hobey Baker award, given every year to college hockey's best individual player.

"He's got so much skill. He's really fast and really creative. I got the chance to play with him a little, and he's a great player," former Bulldog and 2004 Hobey Baker winner Junior Lessard said. "The only thing he has to do is keep doing what he has been doing. He's been awesome, leading the nation in points most of the year."

"I have seen a lot of college hockey, and Jack certainly is a legitimate candidate," former Bulldog and 1984 Hobey Baker winner Tom Kurvers said. "He'll be in the top-five or the top-three as the Hobey Baker foundation pares it down. I imagine he'll be a finalist, and he's certainly worthy candidate."

Perhaps the strongest endorsement, though, came just last week from former UMD assistant coach Brett Larson.

"There's nobody that deserves it more than Jack Connolly. He's going to be a three-time All-American, he's helped his school win its first national championship, and his freshman year he helped them win a WCHA championship they hadn't won in years," Larson said. "He's a local kid, he's a good student, and he's a captain. Everything the Hobey Baker is about, Jack Connolly is. It'd be a travesty if he didn't win it."

Posted by Zach Schneider
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