Told you we’d have a lot of celebrating to do today. The Big Ten announced its end-of-season honors today. By and large, the Buckeyes cleaned up.
Tommy Nappier was named the conference’s Goalie of the Year. The sophomore netminder led the Big Ten in both GAA (1.82) and save percentage (.936). His conference goals-against was the second-lowest mark of its kind in Big Ten history. His save percentage was fourth-best. Nappier ranks third nationally in save percentage (.934) and seventh in GAA (1.91). It should be obvious why he’s a semifinalist for the Mike Richter Award, given annually to the best goalie in the NCAA.
Sasha Larocque was dubbed the Big Ten’s Defenseman of the Year. The senior co-captain spear-headed a Buckeye defense which allowed a smidge over two goals per game in conference games (2.17). It ranked second in the Big Ten. Larocque posted two goals, seven assists, and 49 shot blocks this season. He was fifth among Big Ten defenseman with a +12 rating. After 138 career games, he owns a career rating of +48. It is a mark not equaled by any Buckeye in the twenty-first century. Larocque is a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award.
Steve Rohlik repeated as the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year. This year it was a unanimous decision. He is the conference’s first two-time recipient of the award. Rohlik led the Buckeyes to their first regular-season Big Ten title this season. It was the first conference crown of any kind for the program since 1972. Under Rohlik’s leadership, the team posted its third-consecutive 20-win season. The program will make its third-consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament this season and its ninth overall.
Mason Jobst was the only Buckeye finalist not ultimately awarded an honor. Ohio State’s stalwart captain was passed over for Player of the Year in favor of Michigan State’s Taro Hirose. And, I kind of get it. Hirose was a scoring machine this season. But for outstanding leadership, 100% effort, and significant contributions in all situations, I’ll take Jobst every time.
Jobst did earn First Team All-Big Ten honors. He is the first Buckeye to be named All-Big Ten three times. He is just the second Buckeye in program history to be a three-time all-conference honoree (Paul Tilley, CCHA 1977, 1979-80). Jobst led the B1G champs in scoring this season, both in conference games (13-15--28) and overall (17-19--36). He is the NCAA’s active points-leader (164). He wraps up his Big Ten career as the conference’s all-time leader in goals (48), points (108), and points per game (1.24) in B1G games.
Jobst was joined on the Big Ten’s First Team by Nappier. Larocque, though deemed the conference’s top defender, somehow didn’t make the cut. He claimed a spot on the B1G’s Second Team. Tanner Laczynski was an honorable mention for the all-conference teams. The junior forward posted 21 points in 16 Big Ten games this year in an injury-shortened season.
Breakout freshman Gustaf Westlund earned a place on the B1G’s All-Rookie team. The talented Swede notched 15 points in conference play, tying for second among all Big Ten freshmen. This is an impressive accomplishment considering he was sidelined with an injury for much of the second half of the season. Westlund skated in only 14 of the Bucks’ 25 Big Ten tilts. He is the seventh Buckeye to nab a spot on an all-rookie team. Ohio State leads the conference in all-time all-freshman team selections.
Brendon Kearney is Ohio State’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner. The senior forward was a true Iron Man for the Buckeyes this season. He has played in all 35 games of the campaign to date. Kearney is an integral part of the Bucks’ penalty kill. He owns seven goals and 11 assists along with 31 blocked shots. He is a four-time Scholar-Athlete and will be a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.