The Christmas break is the unofficial halfway point of the college hockey season. By this point last season, it was pretty clear who was going to win the Hobey Baker Award, and had been for some time. This year, things are a little more wide open. Some players have started to emerge as potential candidates, but there's no clear-cut runaway winner yet.
With that in mind, here is our look at ten players that have started to separate themselves out as potential candidates for the award, and will be worth tracking in the second half of the season to see who can take home college hockey's top individual honor.
1. Jake Walman, Defenseman, Providence
Walman's Friars head into Christmas as the last remaining undefeated team in college hockey, and the first to go without a loss prior to the holiday since 1995. Walman currently leads the Friars in scoring with 11-8-19 in 14 games played. Natonally, Walman leads all defensemen in scoring with 19 points, and in goals, where his 11 are five better than the next highest scoring D. Walman is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury, but if he is able to come back in the second half of the season and play like he did in the first half, he could be the first defenseman to be a finalist since Boston University's Matt Gilroy won the Hobey Baker in 2009.
2. Jimmy Vesey, Forward, Harvard
Vesey made the Hobey Hat Trick last season, and despite Harvard's late start to the season as a member of the Ivy League, Vesey has been nothing short of dominant. In just 10 games, Vesey has already piled up eight goals and eight assists for 16 points. He's ranked third in the country with 1.60 points per game. Vesey turned down a big NHL contract offer to return to Harvard for his senior season, which may also help him earn some points in voting.
3. Andrew Poturalski, Forward, New Hampshire
Poturalski is currently the nation's leading scorer with 32 points in 16 games. There's still a long ways to go, but Poturalski is currently on pace to join Johnny Gaudreau as the only player to average two points per game in the past decade. He has teamed up with line-up Tyler Kelleher to be devastating on the power play. His 14 points with the man advantage leads the country in that statistic.
4. Drake Caggiula, Forward, North Dakota
This spot could go to any member of North Dakota's electric 'CBS' line with Caggiula, Brock Boeser, and Nick Schmaltz. Caggiula may not have the long-term pro potential of his two linemates, but his hustle and hard work really helps make that line as dangerous as it is. He's third in the country in scoring with 27 points, and has shown the ability to be both a scorer and a set-up man depending on what the situation calls for.
5. Jake Guentzel, Forward, Omaha
Guentzel and linemate Austin Ortega have teamed up to carry the Omaha offense this season, almost entirely by themselves. Their success has helped turn Omaha into one of the country's most pleasant surprises as they sit in the top five of the country at the midway point. Both are legitimate candidates, but Guentzel gets the nod as the bigger scorer, and more of the driver of his line's offense. Guentzel has had a hand in 44% of the Mavericks' goals this season. He's one of the smartest players in college hockey, always in the right position to get the puck and excels at creating space in the offensive zone for himself and teammates.
6, Michael Garteig, Goalie, Quinnipiac
It can be hard to single out goalies for this award, because so many these days put up extremely solid numbers. Thus the creation of the Richter Award to give goalies some recognition. But Garteig has been exceptional during Quinnipiac impressive run to start the season. He leads the nation with 15 wins, while sitting third in both goals against average(1.24) and save percentage(.948).
7. Colin White, Forward, Boston College
White was labeled as a smart, safe player last year after being slowed down by mononucleosis. But he came into his freshman season at Boston College healthy and has shown that he has some tremendous high-skill offensive upside as well. The Eagles were expected to have a great defense this season, but White has given them a legitimate top line scoring threat as well. He sits tied for seventh nationally with an 8-15-23 scoring line.
8. Kyle Connor, Forward, Michigan
He may not be good enough for the US World Junior team(cue rolling of eyes), but Connor has been an electric offensive force from Day One for the Wolverines. He's put up 22 points through his first 15 games to lead the Big Ten in scoring, capped off by an impressive 5-1-6 weekend last weekend against Minnesota. He's one of the most dynamic offensive talents in college hockey and his big offensive output should keep him in the race for the Hobey Baker all season.
9. Zac Lynch, Forward, Robert Morris
Lynch doesn't have the name recognition of some of the other candidates, but currently sits fifth nationally in scoring at 12-13-25. Lynch is a senior that has had a very strong career for the Colonials, which may give him a little extra credibility among voters as well.
10 Sam Anas, Forward, Quinnipiac
Anas isn't quite as big a scorer as some of the other names listed. He has a very respectable 10-9-19 scoring line which puts him tied for 16th nationally, but still leading the defensive-minded ECAC in scoring. Anas has been the driving force behind Quinnipiac's offense and played a big role in their 15-1-2 start.