The five finalists for the 2014 Mike Richter Award were announced Wednesday.
One of Denver's Sam Brittain (Florida Panthers draft pick), UMass-Lowell's Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets), Wisconsin's Joel Rumpel (free agent), Minnesota's Adam Wilcox (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Northeastern's Clay Witt (free agent) will win the inaugural honor presented to the most outstanding goalie in college hockey. The five goalies were whittled down from an initial list of 19 candidates last month.
The award, named after former Wisconsin goalie and New York Ranger legend Mike Richter, was announced back in October in conjunction with Let's Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation.
Led by senior goalie Brittain's .938%, the players remaining include five of the top six goaltenders in save percentage which have played more than 33% of their team's games this season. Hellebuyck leads the nation in goals against average (1.87 GAA). He and Witt (.932% and 2.37 GAA) also have 4 shutouts this season. Big Ten duo Wilcox and Rumpel, meanwhile, are in the top six of both save percentage and GAA on top-six teams. (Wilcox's 23 wins lead all finalists.)
On average, the five finalists - one senior (Brittain), two juniors (Rumpel and Witt) and two sophomores (Hellebyuck) - off the ice have a 3.23 grade point average.
A winner, determined by a committee of coaches, scouts and members of the media, will be announced next month at the 2014 Frozen Four, which runs from April 10-12 in Philadelphia.
Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter -- Follow @gopherstate