Austin Smith, who has enjoyed one heck of a breakout season with Colgate in his senior season, has become one of the top prospects for the Dallas Stars this season. Drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 draft, Smith has a had a bit of a long road before turning pro and will head to the AHL at 23 years old. He's a mature, smart hockey player who has always flown under the radar since being drafted, but this season he's put himself on the map with an incredible season for the surprising Colgate team. Austin is also on route to becoming for the first Dallas native to play for the home NHL team.
Austin now shares the lead in scoring in the NCAA with 33 points in 20 games and has a firm hold of the scoring lead with 20 goals. Colgate is nationally ranked this season and is 2nd in the ECAC standings.
Reilly Smith, who has been one of the top prospects for the Stars since being drafted in 2009, started off the season on fire and once shared the goal-scoring lead with Austin. He's cooled off lately, however, and has just two goals and four points in his past six games. Miami University, having an bit of an up and down season, are not currently ranked.
Both players appear on the fan balloting for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top player in college hockey each season. Fan voting started yesterday and you'll find information about how to vote, as well as details about how the Hobey Baker is awarded, after the jump.
The fan voting accounts for just 1% of the overall balloting for the award, although this is a good opportunity to help some players get on the final ballot.
The top ten finalists are named after coaches from 58 schools vote, naming the top three players in their league and then the top three players in the nation. Players may be listed on both ballots. Once the top ten finalists are named, a Selection Committee comprised of media, NHL scouts and a number of college hockey coaches determine the winner.
Stars fans may remember that Junior Lessard, once a prized prospect for the Stars, won the Hobey Baker back in the early 2000s. Neal Broten, one of the greatest players in franchise history, was the winner of the first Hobey Baker awarded in 1981.
It's unlikely that Reilly Smith, an early-season favorite, is named as a finalist. His numbers aren't good enough and while he's having a great season, the rollercoaster season of Miami won't help him much.
Austin Smith, leading the nation in scoring, might have his age work against him -- although he's also competing with 22-year old seniors, so it may not matter. What helps is his clear lead in goal scoring and the fact that Colgate is enjoying such a great season and has a legitimate chance of at least making some noise in the NCAA tournament.
Be sure to vote, because although it's 1% -- it can make a difference.