Kyle Connor and Sarah Potomak are a pair of freshmen on top of the college hockey world, and they are also our picks for ASN Hockey Players of the Week.
Potomak, from Minnesota, scored the game-winner in overtime against Wisconsin at the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four semifinal and followed it up with a goal 13 seconds into the title game in Sunday’s 3-1 national title game win against previously unbeaten Boston College, which finished 40-1-0 on the season.
She was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, which is lofty praise considering former Patty Kazmaier Award winners Amanda Kessel, her teammate, and Alex Carpenter of Boston College competed as well as Kazmaier finalist Anne-Marie Desbiens, Wisconsin’s history-making goalie with 20 shutouts on the season.
The victory gave Minnesota (35-4-1) its second consecutive national title and sixth in school history. It’s the third time the school has won back-to-back titles and the win prevented BC from joining Minnesota as the only women’s hockey teams to complete an unbeaten season.
The Gophers accomplished the feat during the 2012-2013 season.
Connor didn’t give Michigan a national title, but it kept the Wolverines in the hunt for one and lifted Michigan back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since their streak of 22 consecutive appearances ended in 2012.
The 17th pick of last year’s NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets took his play to another level with four goals in Friday’s Big Ten semifinal win against Penn State and four more points in Saturday’s championship game against Minnesota, which eked Big Blue out for the regular season conference title.
He was the named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for his efforts.
Connor and his CCM linemates — Tyler Motte and JT Compher — have the rare distinction of all being named Hobey Baker finalists.
When it comes to scoring, however, Connor leads the newly christened Hobey line.
He has scored at least a point in 25 straight games and has 35 points and 34 assists on the season. He leads the country in goals scored and points (69). Motte, 31 goals, is the only other player in nation to reach the 30-goal plateau.
Michigan will play Notre Dame in the second Midwest regional Saturday against Notre Dame in Cincinnati. North Dakota and Northeastern are also in the region.
Above: Sarah Potomak kicks up her skate during Minnesota’s NCAA championship victory on Saturday against Boston College. (Courtesy GopherSports.com)
Middle: Michigan’s Kyle Connor scores against Penn State in the a Big Ten tournament semifinal on Friday night. (Courtesy University of Michigan Athletics)