In hockey, individual awards are rarely a point of emphasis for players on and off the ice. That is, unless it’s the Hobey Baker Award. Minnesota goalie Adam Wilcox is the lone Golden Gophers player up for college hockey’s prestigious individual honor.
Given to the college hockey player that combines skill on the ice with academics and sportsmanship, the Hobey Baker Award says more about the winner as a man, than often it does about their ability.
Wilcox, a South St. Paul native, is in his sophomore season between the pipes for Minnesota. As a freshman, Wilcox shined as the team’s No. 1 netminder and set numerous team records for his play in his first season — including the lowest single-season goals against average by a Gophers backstop at 1.88 per.
In year two of his career, Wilcox has not faltered and often carried the Maroon and Gold to victory. His national numbers this season are on par with his marks from last year, maybe a little better.
The one statistic that carries a lot of weight for a goaltender is wins and Wilcox has a lot of those for the Gophers. He has all but one of the team’s victories on the season and he sits in second nationally in wins at 17 total.
Quinnipiac’s Michael Garteig leads the country with 18 wins on the season, but has played in four more games than Wilcox.
Those wins have Don Lucia’s Gophers ranked No. 1 in the nation and Wilcox is a big part of that.
Fans are invited to go to HobeyBaker.com daily to vote for their favorite contestant. As the only Gopher in the fan vote, Wilcox has received some nice support to this point from fans.
His 4,014 votes are good enough for fifth place overall and tops among goalies. Wilcox would be the fifth Golden Gopher to win the “Hockey Heisman” and second netminder.
In 1988, Robb Stauber won the award at Minnesota and iss often considered the best goalie in program history. Only one other goalie has won the Hobey Baker Award and that was former Michigan State keeper Ryan Miller in 2001.
As the season moves along, it’s often questioned if Wilcox should play as much as he has with little time off on game days. What seems to be the positive out of his constant playing time, is that he’s getting better as the weekends pass.
If this is a goalie that gets better with time and pressure, fans are in for a joyride as Minnesota sits on top of the shoulders of their superstar puck stopper. A deep run in the postseason for the Gophers is only possible if Wilcox can stand tall and close down the defensive side of the game.
The old adage is that defense wins championships and a top goalie is sometimes all the defense a team needs to hoist a team title in Philadelphia in April — which would look mighty fine sitting next to a Hobey Baker Award on one’s mantle.