UConn men’s hockey is up for a pair of major conference honors. Head coach Mike Cavanaugh and junior forward Jonny Evans have been named finalists for Hockey East Coach and Player of the Year, respectively. This is the second consecutive season Cavanaugh has been named a finalist for the award.
Evans’ inclusion on the list is no surprise considering he’s already been named a Hockey East First Team All-Star, won the Three Stars Award, and was declared the conference’s leading scorer. In fact, he has a strong case to win the award outright over BU’s David Farrance, BC’s Spencer Knight, and UMass’ Bobby Trivigno.
Evans doesn’t just lead Hockey East with 14 goals and 28 points because he’s played the most games, he also holds the top mark with 0.64 goals and 1.27 points per game. Evans has a balanced line as well with an equal number of goals and assists.
On top of the lump sum numbers, Evans didn’t miss a single game and recorded a point in 17 of 22 games. He didn’t just do it all on the offensive end either — his 20 blocked shots were tied for the second-most by a forward in the conference.
While Trivigno had a strong season for the Minutemen, he played the same number of games as Evans and finished with eight goals and 24 points — both fewer than the Huskies’ star.
As for Farrance, the other three finalists all have a clear upper hand when it comes to availability. While the fact that BU only played 14 games shouldn’t necessarily be a disqualifier, Farrance himself only played in nine games — 13 fewer than Evans and Trivigno, 10 fewer than Knight — which should remove him from consideration.
The case for Evans over Knight is tougher since there’s no way to compare a skater to a goaltender. Knight was one of the best netminders in the nation this season, owning a 1.99 goals-against average and .937 save percentage all while facing the third-most shots per game in Hockey East. Though Knight did miss some time while away at World Juniors, it amounted to just three games.
One way to compare the two is by seeing where each player stacked up nationally. Evans’ goals per game rank fifth in the country while his points per game are eighth-highest. Meanwhile, Knight’s GAA was 11th-best nationally while his save percentage was fourth. It’s close and will likely come down to the voters’ personal opinion: Did Evans have a better season as a skater than Knight had as a goaltender?
Regardless, there’s no denying Evans has a strong case to become the first Husky to win Hockey East Player of the Year. The path for Cavanaugh might be a little more difficult, though.
Albie O’Connell and BU didn’t begin their season until Jan. 8 due to COVID-19 issues, dropped their first game back, and then lost just twice the rest of the season to earn the second seed in the conference tournament. BC’s Jerry York guided the Eagles to the first seed (Hockey East didn’t hand out a regular season champion) behind a 16-4-1 record.
The winners will be announced on Wednesday, March 17 at 1 p.m. UConn will take on Providence in the Hockey East Quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. on SNY.