MINNEAPOLIS – On the eve of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Frozen Faceoff, the four participating teams, as well as representatives of the non-participating teams, gathered, along with NCHC staff and parents, to celebrate the 2015-16 season at the annual NCHC Awards Celebration and hand out some year-end awards. A total of 12 awards were presented at Muse Event Center Thursday, three of which were won by St. Cloud State senior defenseman Ethan Prow, including NCHC Player of the Year, while North Dakota’s Brad Berry took home the Herb Brooks Coach of the Year award.
Prow (Sauk Rapids, Minn.) is the second straight defenseman to capture NCHC Player of the Year but the first SCSU player to claim the honor. In addition to his top honor, he also took home NCHC Defenseman of the Year and NCHC Offensive Defenseman of the Year. The Huskies captain led the conference in scoring by a defenseman with six goals and 18 assists in 22 NCHC games. Prow also led all defensemen nationally with 34 points in regular-season play. He racked up five multi-point games in NCHC play and four more in non-conference play. Prow was named the Bauer NCHC Defenseman of the Week three times during the season and was a First-Team All-Conference selection this year. He also posted a plus-21 rating in NCHC play, which was second in the conference, while he blocked 39 shots in conference action.
Berry is the second straight UND coach to claim the Herb Brooks Coach of the Year after Dave Hakstol took home the honor last season. In his first season as the North Dakota bench boss, Berry led his team to its second consecutive Penrose Cup as NCHC regular-season champions. With a 19-4-1 mark, the Fighting Hawks broke the conference record for wins and points in a season. In non-conference play, North Dakota finished the season with a 9-1-2 record while UND has now made the Frozen Faceoff all three years and will be making their 14th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2016.
Garnering top honors among freshmen was UND forward Brock Boeser (Burnsville, Minn.). The Canucks first-round draft pick is the first freshman to win the NCHC scoring title, finishing with a NCHC-best 20 goals and conference record 35 points in league play. His 15 assists ranked him second among rookies and seventh overall while his plus-23 rating was second in the NCHC as well. Boeser, the NCHC January Co-Rookie of the Month, was named the Bauer NCHC Rookie of the Week four times and wrapped up the regular season by earning NCHC Offensive Player of the Week. He was also named First-Team All-Conference and to the NCHC All-Rookie Team, as well as the first ever NCHC Three Stars Award winner, also announced Thursday. Boeser totaled 37 points in Three Stars points in conference games, eight points more than the runner-up. He was named First Star of the Game five times in NCHC play, tying for the most by any player.
Earning NCHC Forward of the Year was Denver sophomore Danton Heinen (Langley, B.C.), joining his “Pacific Rim” linemate Trevor Moore, who took home the same award last year also as a then sophomore. Heinen tied for third in conference scoring with 11 goals and 19 assists, along with linemates Dylan Gambrell and Moore with 30 points. The Bruins draft pick finished the regular season on a 12-game point streak where he racked up nine goals and 14 assists, including six straight multi-point games. Heinen was named Bauer NCHC Offensive Player of the Week three times, the NCAA National Player of the Month for February and was a First-Team All-Conference pick this season.
Another Husky to take home hardware was SCSU junior Charlie Lindgren (Lakeville, Minn.), who was selected the NCHC Goaltender of the Year. He helped back the Huskies to a second-place finish in the NCHC with a 17-6-1 record as his 17 wins led all NCHC goaltenders. Lindgren was the lone goalie to start all 24 conference games and had one shutout in NCHC play to go with his four non-conference shutouts. The First-Team All-Conference selection finished third in conference play with a 2.11 goals-against average and had a .927 save percentage. Lindgren was the NCHC October Player of the Month and is also one of five finalists for the Mike Richter Award, given to the top goaltender in college hockey.
One day after being selected as the inaugural recipient of the NCHC’s Post-Graduate Scholarship, Denver senior forward Gabe Levin (Marina del Rey, Calif.) also claimed the NCHC Scholar-Athlete of the Year accolade. Levin is a two-time member of the NCHC Scholar Athlete Team and received Academic All-Conference honors in each of the NCHC’s first three seasons. Levin compiled a 3.96 grade point average while majoring in finance and minoring in legal studies. He missed one game this season...at North Dakota in early December to take the LSAT, snapping a streak of 129 straight games played. He also chipped in eight points in NCHC play and 13 points overall.
The lone award winner Thursday not from a Frozen Faceoff team was Miami senior forward Sean Kuraly (Dublin, Ohio), who captured NCHC Defensive Forward of the Year. The Bruins prospect was named to the Honorable Mention All-Conference Team this season and finished the regular season with a face-off winning percentage north of 55 percent, while he blocked 20 shots in conference action. The team captain also chipped in some offense for the RedHawks, leading the team in scoring with 18 points on five goals and 13 assists in NCHC Play, while logging a plus-5 rating in 24 games.
Minnesota Duluth senior forward Cal Decowski (Andover, Minn.) was selected the NCHC’s Sportsmanship Award winner for this season after picking up zero penalties this season. Decowski has only spent 16 minutes in the penalty box in his four year career as a Bulldog with only eight penalties. He was the least penalized Bulldog all four seasons in his career while playing in 123 games. The assistant captain is a great leader whose work ethic is second-to-none.
For most of the awards, winners were determined based on voting by the conference’s head coaches and one student-athlete from each team. The Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Postgrad Scholarship winner was determined in a vote by the conference’s Faculty Athletics Representatives (FARs) while the NCHC Awards Committee selected the Sportsmanship Award. Athletic Directors at each NCHC institution had a vote on Herb Brooks Coach of the Year, rather than the student-athletes.
2015-16 NCHC Award Winners
Herb Brooks Coach of the Year: Brad Berry, UND
Player of the Year: Ethan Prow, Sr., D, SCSU
Rookie of the Year: Brock Boeser, F, UND
Goaltender of the Year: Charlie Lindgren, Jr., SCSU
Forward of the Year: Danton Heinen, So., Denver
Defenseman of the Year: Ethan Prow, Sr., SCSU
Offensive Defenseman of the Year: Ethan Prow, Sr., SCSU
Defensive Forward of the Year: Sean Kuraly, Sr., Miami
Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Gabe Levin, Sr., F, Denver
Three Stars Award: Brock Boeser, Fr., F, UND
Sportsmanship Award: Cal Decowski, Sr., F, UMD
NCHC Post-Graduate Scholarship: Gabe Levin, Sr., F, Denver