The finalists for the annual Hobey Baker Award, given to the top collegiate hockey player, were recently announced for the 2019-20 season. University of Maine goaltender and recent Boston Bruins signee Jeremy Swayman made the top-10 finalists list.
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Following the shutdown of the season right before the Hockey East tournament was scheduled to begin amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Swayman decided to forgo his senior year in Oreno for the Black Bears. On March 17, Swayman, who was drafted 111th by the Bruins in 2017, signed his entry-level contract following a stellar season.
2019-20 Season for Maine
Being nominated for the annual college hockey award is the perfect ending to an impressive junior season for Swayman. At the beginning of the season, the Black Bears were picked to finish eighth in Hockey East. Maine exceeded those expectations to finish fourth and secured home-ice advantage for the quarterfinals of the tournament.
Swayman played a big part in Maine securing a top-four seed. He started 33 of the Black Bears’ 34 games and finished with an 18-11-5 overall record and 12-9-3 in Hockey East. He finished with a 2.07 goals-against average (GAA) and a .939 save percentage (SV%). He saw a lot of rubber this season. He turned back 1,099 of the 1,170 shots he faced to lead the nation in saves and set a new school record. Not bad for the 12th-ranked North American born goalie by NHL Central Scouting in his draft year.
Swayman had 25 games this season with 30 or more saves. He also had five games with 40 or more saves, including opening night against Providence College in which he made 52 saves in a 7-0 loss to the Friars. His last game for the Black Bears was a fitting 1-0 shutout at home against Providence on March 6 in which he made 48 saves.
When the college hockey season shut down, the list of awards started coming in for the 6-foot-3 Swayman. He was voted the Hockey East Player of the Year and was a unanimous Hockey East first-team selection.
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Swayman also won the 2020 Walter Brown Award as the top American-born college hockey player in New England. He also took home the Hockey East Stop It Goaltending Goaltender of the Year award.
The list of accomplishments for the Anchorage, Alaska native could be topped off on April 10 when the Hobey Baker Award winner is announced. If not, the current list of awards is a good way to close out his college career as he begins his professional career for the Black and Gold.
Career at Maine
Swayman improved each season with some of his stats for the Black Bears. As a freshman, he went 15-12-3 with a 2.78 GAA and a .919 SV%. His sophomore year, he finished below .500 with a 14-17-4 record, but he dropped his goals-against average to 2.72 and his save percentage improved to .921.
He made a career-high 53 saves against the University of Massachusetts as a sophomore in a 4-3 victory over the NCAA runner-up Minutemen. Swayman followed that up two weekends later with 67 saves in a two-game sweep of Boston College with a pair of 2-1 wins.
Future with the Bruins
What does the future hold for Swayman? It’s too early to tell, but he adds goaltending depth for the organization as they head into uncertain times between the pipes. Boston knows what they are getting as he participated in the Bruins Development Camps the last three summers.
Tuukka Rask has one year remaining on his current eight-year contract. Backup Jaroslav Halak has been one of the better backups in the league over the last two seasons, but his contract expires following this year. Swayman provides the Bruins with backup options along with Daniel Vlador who spent the season with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League.
Signing Swayman gives Boston another option moving forward. The Bruins have not developed a goalie in their organization since they traded for Rask in 2006. They developed him through the minors for two years in Providence before he was named the backup for Tim Thomas in the 2009-10 season.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.