Top 3 WCHA Hobey Baker Candidates: Kruse, Michaelis, & Cuglietta

The list of 81 Hobey Baker nominees is officially open to fan voting, and with eight WCHA players included on that list, the conference is well represented.

The first fan vote—which accounts for just one percent of the final tally in each voting period—closes March 10, at which point the list of 81 names will be narrowed down to just 10. The 10-player fan vote will be open March 20-31. Three finalists will be announced April 4, and the winner will be announced April 12.

The Hobey Baker is awarded annually to the top player, one who exhibits strength and character both on and off the ice, in NCAA Division I hockey.

Last April, the trophy was awarded to Northeastern’s Adam Gaudette. Minnesota State’s C.J. Suess landed in the top 10 as the lone WCHA candidate. A year later, the WCHA returns with three legitimate candidates all eyeing the 10-man cutoff in March.  

Brandon Kruse

Bowling Green | So.

2018-19 Statistics: 27 GP, 8 G, 21 A, 29 pts.

Kruse’s 29 points place him in a tie for the conference-scoring race. He is tied for third in total assists (21) and eighth in scoring among all DI players. The sophomore has already matched his goal output from last season and is just five points shy from tying his freshman season total of 33 points (8 G, 25 A).

Kruse, 19, has been a consistent factor for the Falcons, who sit at 17-7-3 on the season, and will be looked to steer the offense with eight games remaining before the conference tournament.

His age will play a large part in his bid for the Hobey Baker; while some will judge his ability to play beyond his years, others will look for more experienced players ending their collegiate careers. With teammate Lukas Craggs also in contention, Kruse’s importance could be devalued.

Marc Michaelis

Minnesota State | Jr.

2018-19 Statistics: 28 GP, 13 G, 16 A, 29 pts.

Right there with Kruse is Michaelis, who has also registered 29 points, albeit in one more game, to sit tied atop the WCHA and eighth in the nation. Michaelis’ 13 goals are second in the WCHA and are tied for 13th in the NCAA as the junior has led the Mavericks to a 21-6-1 overall record.

The Germany native has been a steady two-way winger for the Mavericks in his three years and has been a consistent offensive threat with 106 points (45 G, 61 A) in 103 NCAA games.

At 23, he’s four years older than Kruse and that extra experience could hurt his chances at the annual award against younger competition with similar ability.

Diego Cuglietta

Lake Superior State | Sr.

2018-19 Statistics: 26 GP, 17 G, 9 A, 26 pts.

Cuglietta has broken out in his senior season, transitioning from a pass-first player to full-fledged goal-scorer with a WCHA-leading 17 tallies. He’s second in the nation behind only Johnny Walker of Arizona State with 21, while his 26 points are tied for 27th.

Cuglietta is on pace to outscore his 19 total goals from the past two seasons and has led the Lakers to a 16-8-2 record as they eye their first winning record since 1999-2000 (17-9-2). The 23-year-old’s collegiate career is coming to an end and he’s winding it down in fashion.

Also among the list of 81 nominees is Cuglietta’s teammate, Anthony Nellis. Similar to Kruse and Craggs, Nellis’ inclusion could dissuade some from Cuglietta’s significance to the Lakers. A strong final eight games could be the difference.

Don’t miss you chance to watch these players live, right here on FloHockey, and don’t forget to get out and cast your vote for the 2019 Hobey Baker winner.

Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.

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