CHANHASSEN, Minn. – Three goaltenders from the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) were named to the 2017-18 Mike Richter Award Watch List, Let’s Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation announced Thursday. Denver senior Tanner Jaillet, North Dakota senior Cam Johnson and Western Michigan sophomore Ben Blacker were among the 20 netminders listed for the award that annually honors the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA Division I men’s hockey.
Jaillet is the reigning Mike Richter Award winner, after claiming the honor last year in Chicago prior to backstopping Denver to a national championship. Johnson was a finalist for the award in 2015-16 when he led UND to an NCAA championship and has been named to the Mike Richter Award Watch List each of the last three seasons. This is Jaillet’s second time being named to the Watch List, while he was also the second NCHC netminder to win the Mike Richter Award. Former North Dakota goalie Zane McIntyre won the second ever Richter Award in 2015.
The winner of the fifth annual Mike Richter Award will be announced at the 2018 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four in Saint Paul, Minn. on Friday, April 6.
This season, Jaillet (Red Deer, Alberta) was named to the NCHC Preseason All-Conference Team and College Hockey News Preseason All-CHN First Team. Jaillet received First-Team All-NCHC honors last season when he was tabbed NCHC Goaltender of the Year. In 22 starts in conference play a season ago, the undrafted free agent posted a 16-2-3 record with a .936 save percentage and a 1.65 goals-against average, all of which led the conference. Overall, he went 28-5-4, tying for the NCAA wins lead, with a 1.84 GAA, which was third nationally, and a .929 save percentage, which ranked seventh in the NCAA.
Johnson (Troy, Mich.) enters the 2017-18 season as UND’s all-time leader in career goals-against average (2.08), is tied for fourth in career shutouts (9), is fifth in career save percentage (.916) and is sixth in career winning percentage (.705). Last season, he appeared in 34 games (33 starts), going 20-13-2 with a 2.39 GAA and .903 save percentage. He also registered four shutouts. In 73 career appearances at UND, including 71 starts, Johnson is 44-17-5. He was an AHCA All-America West Second Team honoree as a sophomore in 2015-16, after posting five whitewashes and going 24-4-2.
Blacker (Oakville, Ont.) was voted to the NCHC All-Rookie Team a season ago and named Honorable Mention All-NCHC, when he posted a 17-8-2 record in 28 starts for the Broncos. He ranked in the top ten nationally among freshman netminders with both a 2.55 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage. Blacker also logged three shutouts in his freshman campaign. In conference play, Blacker was 10-4-1, starting 15 of 24 NCHC games. He was tabbed NCHC Rookie of the Week or Goaltender of the Week a combined five times last season.
Jaillet and Johnson are two of only five seniors on the Watch List, which also includes four juniors and 11 sophomores, including Blacker. Goalies on the Mike Richter Award Watch List are chosen by members of Let’s Play Hockey, utilizing both past performance and future potential. Freshmen are not included on the list.
Candidates for the Mike Richter Award will be determined by nominations from all 60 NCAA Division I men’s hockey head coaches. The finalists and winner are selected by a committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media.
Criteria for the Mike Richter Award includes outstanding skills on the ice, academic achievement and sportsmanship, playing in 50 percent or more of the season, and consideration should be given to the candidate’s activities in the community. The candidate must also comply with all NCAA rules and be in good academic standing at his college or university.
Johnson and Blacker open the regular season this weekend with North Dakota at Alaska Anchorage and WMU playing a home-and-home series with Ferris State. Jaillet and Denver return to action next weekend at Notre Dame Oct. 13-14. Watch all three goaltenders and over 140 NCHC games this season on NCHC.tv, including six games this weekend. Seven NCHC teams are in action overall this weekend, with six starting the regular season.