Rookie of the Year
The 07-08 Seawolf freshman class hit the ice with some vigor this season. Winston Daychief was named WCHA Rookie of the Week for the third weekend in October. By that time 4 Seawolf freshman had already bagged their first collegiate goal. Craig Parkinson, Tommy Grant, Brad McCabe and Winston all had respectable numbers in their first year. On a team that only managed 81 goals those 4 guys contributed 23. Pretty nice. Parkinson and McCabe both finished the season with 7 each. Overall, I think those are pretty promising numbers but I'm naming Kane the ROY because of his overall solid play in both ends of the ice. Kane's offensive potential became apparent in the 2nd half of the season as he gained confidence and adapted fully to the college game. Kane was the 3rd leading scoring defenseman (but tied for 1st in goals scored) on the team with 3 goals and 5 assists but most of those points came in the 2nd half. I'm big time jazzed about the skills he brings to the blueline. His smooth skating and heads up play impress the hell out of me; And his attention to his defensive responsibilities are second to none.
Most Improved Player
There simply was no bigger change in a player from the beginning of the season to the end than what I saw from Sean Wiles. He went from a guy I wasn't initially sure could skate with D1 players to someone that I confused with Paul Crowder. I'm not sure exactly what Sean's offensive potential might be but I can't deny the huge difference in his apparent abilities from early to late. I also believe that Jon Olthuis qualifies for a mention here. I suspect that if you broke his season in two and calculated his save percentage that you'd find a substantial positive difference. I considered Shane Lovdahl here because I really think his skating abilities are undersold by the coaching staff. He also showed some nice flair puck-handling deep in the offensive end. Ken Selby also came to mind simply because when he finally got into the lineup he produced. I sure hope we see more of him next season.
Heart and Soul
Mat Robinson/Kevin Clark
Mat Robinson/Kevin Clark
For one reason and one reason only these two guys share my Heart and Soul award this year. Because these guys both seemed to me to "want it" more whenever they were on the ice. Mat layed on many many punishing hits this year. He never hesitated to carry the puck up when necessary and always did so with vigor. I could see from my balcony seat that Kevin wanted to make something happen every shift he took. Whether he was instigating or playmaking he simply gave it his all on every shift. He is perhaps the most talented stick handler on the team and made so many many pretty passes. Let me be clear here though ... just about everyone on the team came to mind when deciding this award. I loved Chris Tarkir's effort all season. I think Jared Tuton did everything the coaching staff asked him to do. He's got to be a coaches dream player eh? I think Luke Beaverson sacrificed his offensive game in order to lead the team and I think he was a great Captain. Merit Waldrop would have been deserving of this award as well. Peter Cartwright was another player that let it all hang out all season and could have garnered this. And of course Blair Tassone shouldn't be left out of consideration. I called him this years Justin Johnson in my Senior Tribute and I'll stand by that. He hit somebody on every shift and brought so much energy. I considered naming the "team" as Heart and Soul winners. But that seemed like a bit of a cop out ... so congrats to Kevin and Mat for being just marginally more intense and standing out in my mind.
Most Valuable Player
Josh scored twice as many goals as any other Seawolf. It's always easy to name the leading scorer as an MVP and that's the case with Josh this season. If that was all that he brought to the party it would be enough. But Josh brought more than just goal scoring. His physical game was always evident and he was a leader on the ice. Paul Crowder got consideration here both because he was the 2nd leading scorer but also because I think he was perhaps the smartest penalty killer on the team. I can't say I didn't think of Kevin Clark here as well for the reasons I mentioned above. I'm thrilled that all three of these guys will be in Seawolf sweaters for the next two years. They are leaders as sophomores already so as juniors and seniors we should expect more excellence from them.