Examining Taro Hirose’s chances at the prestigious Hobey Baker Award

John Supan, Hockey Beat Reporter

One of the largest accomplishments for a collegiate hockey player will be awarded on Apr. 12; the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.

If you’re unfamiliar with the history behind the award, who receives it and what it’s for, I’m here to tell you.

The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is given to the best NCAA men’s hockey player in the nation, and there are several factors in the selection process. The ideal candidate shows integrity on and off the ice, scholastic achievement and sportsmanship.

The award is named after Hobey Baker, a World War I fighter pilot and stellar amateur athlete who excelled in football and hockey at Princeton University.

An excerpt from the official Hobey Baker Award website reads:

Teamwork. Dedication. Integrity. Exceptional play. Humility. And, above all, character. These are the values that set the game of hockey, and those who play it, apart from any other. They are also the values that the Hobey Baker Award honors each year.”

The first winner of the Hobey was Neal Broten from the University of Minnesota in 1981. Broten tallied 71 points in 36 games during his sophomore season with the golden gophers.

Fast forward 38 years and the competition for the award is at an all-time high with 81 collegiate players from 46 different Division I programs; including a Michigan State Spartan by the name of Taro Hirose.  

Hirose is a junior from Calgary, Alberta. He models his play off Calgary Flames superstar Johnny Gaudreau because he sees much of himself in Gaudreau; a small, shifty collegiate hockey player who has NHL aspirations.  

Hirose is one of the 16 nominees representing the Big Ten conference, and the only candidate from Michigan State University. Hirose has made a name for himself in the 2018-19 season especially, leading the nation in points (50) and assists (35).

Head coach Danton Cole has obviously realized just what this young man is capable of by this point of the season. Cole has kept Hirose on the same line as teammates Patrick Khodorenko and Mitchell Lewandowski throughout this season, and they have been nothing shy of spectacular.

The line has totaled 47 of the team’s 95 goals and 119 of 254 of the team’s points, with Hirose being a huge piece of this puzzle.

Two more games against No. 2 Ohio State are remaining on the regular season schedule for the Spartans, and Hirose’s vision and passing abilities will need to be present in order for him to stay relevant in this competitive Hobey Baker race.

The top ten list of candidates will be announced on Mar. 20, the three finalists on Apr. 4 and the Hobey Baker Award winner on Apr. 12.

Voting for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award is still open, and the leading point-scorer in the country is waiting for your vote.