Chris Higgins ’05 can add two more accolades to his ever-growing list.
At the ECAC awards banquet March 20, Higgins, along with Cornell sophomore goaltender Dave LeNeveu, was named Co-Player of the Year. Later that day, Higgins was named as one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the best player in college hockey.
The announcement marked the first time in ECAC history the Player of the Year honor has been shared, and the first time since 1995 that a sophomore had taken home the prize.
“I was pretty surprised,” Higgins said. “LeNeveu had a great season and put up record numbers for his school and for the league, so I was a bit surprised to get it with him.”
LeNeveu, who led the nation in goals against average and save percentage, broke the Cornell record for shutouts that had been set by NHL Hall of Famer Ken Dryden, holding opponents scoreless eight times this season. He was also awarded the Dryden Award for the ECAC’s top goaltender at the banquet.
Higgins’ statistics were similarly impressive. The center, who was the ECAC Rookie of the Year last season, led Yale in scoring with 20 goals and 21 assists this year. He did so despite missing three games to play for Team USA in the World Junior Championship and one game after sustaining a fighting major in Yale’s season opener with North Dakota.
Higgins led the ECAC in goal scoring, averaging .71 goals per game, and played a big role in the Bulldogs successful 18-win season.
Yale has only one other ECAC Player of the Year: defenseman Ray Giroux ’98.
“I know Ray Giroux got it too, and he was a great player,” Higgins said. “It says a lot for Yale and the program.”
After two successful seasons for Higgins, many are wondering whether the first-round draft pick will remain at Yale or choose to play professionally. But Higgins said he has not begun the decision making process yet.
“Right now, I haven’t received an offer from Montreal, so until that happens, I’m staying at Yale,” he said. “That’s when I’d start talking to my family and people I respect and make the decision.”
Both Higgins and LeNeveu were among the 10 Hobey Baker finalists announced that day. Harvard’s Scott Fusco and Mark Fusco won the award in 1983 and 1986, respectively, and Crimson Lane MacDonald earned the honors in 1989. But no other ECAC Players have won it.
The 25-member selection committee will pare the group to three finalists April 2 before announcing the winner at the Frozen Four in Buffalo, N.Y. April 11.
Fans can vote for Higgins and other candidates at www.voteforhobey.com.