St. Paul, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- UMD forward Jack Connolly
saw his name on the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award for the very first time at a ceremony in St. Paul.
Connolly was announced as the winner on April 6, but had to wait until Thursday to receive the trophy he could take home. The Hobey Baker is awarded each year to the best player in men's college hockey.
"To come down here and see my name on the actual trophy that's going to be mine was a pretty special moment for me," Connolly said. "I kind of had to do a double take at first."
"I think back to the little kid at Duluth Heights," Jack's father Mark Connolly said, "playing outside, falling down, coming off the ice when it was cold, and going to the concession stand."
"Actually seeing his trophy with his name on it, it all kind of sinks in," Jack's older brother Chris Connolly said. "He took a real deep breath when he saw his name, like 'Wow, it actually happened.'"
The former Duluth Marshall star scored 60 points this season to put him second in the country and finishes his four-year Bulldogs career with 197 points in 166 games played.
He became only UMD's second-ever three-time All-American selection and was also named this season as the Western Collegiate Hockey Association player of the year, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award winner, and the 2012 Premier player of men's college hockey.
"It goes beyond on the rink too," UMD head coach Scott Sandelin said. "It goes to what kind of person he is, what he does in our community, and what he does academically."
"Every day coming to the rink with him was an absolute pleasure," former Bulldogs defenseman Brady Lamb said. "We had so much fun together. The things he's done on the ice, the numbers speak for themselves, but it doesn't even compare to the type of guy he is."
"Jack's commitment to our program, to the coaching staff, to his teammates, and to the city I think was a culmination of four years," UMD volunteer assistant coach and 1985 Hobey Baker winner Bill Watson said. "I don't know if there was a better player in college hockey who gave more back to his program than Jack."
"He had an amazing year, both on and off the ice," former UMD forward Travis Oleksuk said. "He was a tremendous leader for us, and obviously he's being honored with this award for that reason."
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman were both in attendance on Thursday night, as was Benilde-St. Margaret's player Jack Jablonski.
Connolly said he was overwhelmed with everything that has happened during his time at UMD, and thanked the fans for making his collegiate career something to remember.
"Winning things like national championships and Hobey Bakers, it shouldn't change who you are," Connolly said. "I still try to go out and conduct myself as if none of this ever happened."
The now former Bulldog signed on April 13 a professional contract with Färjestad BK, a member of the Elitserien, or Swedish Elite League.