Sophomore Connor Hellebuyck of UMass Lowell has been named the winner of the inaugural Mike Richter Award as the most outstanding goaltender in NCAA men’s hockey. Hellebuyck was presented with the award by Mike Richter at a press conference today at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, site of the 2014 NCAA Frozen Four.
Hellebuyck led the nation in goals-against average (1.79) and save percentage (.941) for the Hockey East Tournament champion RiverHawks. A native of Commerce, Mich., Hellebuyck posted an 18-9-2 overall record and ranked second in the nation with six shutouts this season.
He began the season splitting time with senior netminder Doug Carr, but assumed the starting job in mid-January. A first-team All-Hockey East selection and a two-time Hockey East Tournament MVP, Hellebuyck posted a .920 or better save percentage in all but two games this season and was 7-5-2 in one-goal games for the River Hawks. He was a three-time Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week this season and was named the Hockey East Goaltender of the Month for November.
On April 5, Hellebuyck signed an entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets, forgoing his final two years of college eligibility. He was a fifth-round pick (130th overall) of the Jets in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Hellebuyck is a marketing major at UMass Lowell with a GPA of 3.606.
For his college career, Hellebuyck posted a 38-12-2 record with a 1.60 goals-against average and a .946 save percentage. He led the nation in both goals-against average and save percentage in both of his collegiate seasons. Hellebuyck finished with as many shutouts (12) as losses in his 53-game career. Hellebuyck’s career save percentage of .946 is the best in college hockey history. Michigan State’s Ryan Miller, the 2001 Hobey Baker Award winner and current St. Louis Blues netminder, posted a .941 save percentage from 2000-02.
The other finalists for the 2014 Mike Richter Award were Sam Brittain of Denver, Joel Rumpel of Wisconsin, Adam Wilcox of Minnesota and Clay Witt of Northeastern.
Candidates for the Mike Richter Award were determined by nominations from all 59 NCAA Division I men’s hockey head coaches. The finalists and winner were selected by a committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media. Criteria for the Mike Richter Award:
- Candidates must display outstanding skills on the ice
- Candidates should be in good academic standing at an NCAA college or university
- Consideration should be given to academic achievement and sportsmanship
- Candidates must comply with all NCAA rules; be full-time students at an NCAA college or university; and complete 50 percent or more of the season
- Consideration should be given to the candidate’s activities in the community