Denver senior defenseman Will Butcher was named the 2017 recipient of the Hobey Baker Award, becoming the first defenseman to take home the award since Boston University’s Matt Gilroy won the award in 2009.
“It just goes to our team. We have had the best team defense in the (NCHC) and nation the whole year,” Butcher said after being given the honor in a ceremony at Chicago’s Navy Pier. “To be recognized as a defenseman you’ve had a god team.”
Butcher was captain of the top-ranked Pioneers and was the team’s fourth-leading scorer with 7 goals and 30 assists for 37 points in 42 games this season for the Pioneers. Butcher moved into second place nationally in scoring by a defenseman last night with an assist in Denver’s impressive 6-1 win over Notre Dame.
“I came here and my main focus was to win a national championship. We still have that chance. It was icing on the cake to get this as well,” he said.
In addition to his offense, Butcher was a reliable presence on Denver’s blue line, logging big minutes and playing in all situations.
Butcher is the first Wisconsin native to ever be named a Hobey Baker Award winner. Calling Sun Prairie, WI home, he is the second Pioneer to win college hockey’s top individual honor, joining fellow defenseman Matt Carle, who won the award in 2006.
“Matt Carle was the first one I watched. I was ecstatic because I was a WCHA fan of all the WCHA teams when the league was together,” said Butcher. I watched him win that and just as a defenseman too growing up, that guy was cool. Especially with DU winning titles back-to-back a couple years before. That was the first time I ever watched the Hobey and I’ve watched it ever since.”
Nathan Wells and Sean Davich contributed to this article.