By Raymond Rolak
CHICAGO-- Senior defenseman Will Butcher of the University of Denver was named the 2017 Hobey Baker Award winner. The honor is named for Baker, who was a football and hockey star at Princeton. Baker was hockey’s brightest name when he was killed in a plane crash in France during the final days of World War I. The announcement came during the NCAA Frozen Four festivities at the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier in Chicago.
Butcher was this year’s National Collegiate Hockey Conference player of the year. He had seven goals and 30 assists for 37 points and was Denver’s captain this season. He also excelled in the classroom. Butcher is the sixth Hobey Baker Award winner to also take home the NCAA title in the same season.
The two-time All-America hails from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, a suburb of Madison. Butcher grew up playing for the Madison Capitols youth program before leaving home in 2011 to join the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. He played two seasons with the NTDP which was then located in Ann Arbor, Mich. He graduated from high school in Ann Arbor.
The Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation also announced its 2017 Legend of College Hockey recipient as Bill Riley, Jr. The longtime coach at UMass Lowell, Riley took over a fledgling program in 1969 and built it into an NCAA Division II national power. He ultimately moved Lowell into Division I hockey as a charter member of Hockey East in 1984.
Butcher and Riley will be honored at the Hobey Baker Award Banquet on May 25, 2017 at 317 On Rice Park in Saint Paul, Minn.