To suggest the last couple of months have been a whirlwind for Dartmouth Big Green starting netminder Devin Buffalo would be an understatement. In what is his senior year, the native of Wetaskiwin, Alberta has not only helped lead his team to this weekend’s upcoming ECAC Quarterfinals but was also nominated for the 2018 Hobey Baker Award, given out annually the top player in college hockey.
Quite the honour to be sure and one the 24-year old takes great pride in and who could blame him. After all, it’s not every day that we see indigenous athletes up for such a prestigious award and that in itself makes this kind of recognition all the more important. As great as the hockey side of the equation is, it pales in comparison to some of the inroads Buffalo has made during his time at Dartmouth.
Role Model for Indigenous Youth
Let’s not forget, this is a kid who was also nominated for the Hockey Humanitarian Award thanks to his involvement with the Alberta, North American and World Indigenous Games. Buffalo’s success both on the ice and in his studies has helped propel him into the spotlight as a role model within his community and it is a responsibility he does not take lightly.
To his credit, the young man has never forgotten who he is, where he comes from and his responsibility to his community. Buffalo is proud to be part of the Samson Cree Nation and is well aware of the challenges and limitations of resources indigenous youth face when it comes to trying to achieve their dreams and goals. However, there is no question Buffalo is proving it can be done and the hope is it will inspire others to follow in his footsteps.
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) February 19, 2018
No matter who you are or where you come from, attending an Ivy League school is no small feat and when you include four consecutive years of honours status on the resume, it becomes all the more impressive. That is exactly what Buffalo has managed to accomplish during his time at Dartmouth and as successful as he is at stopping pucks, his achievements from a scholastic point of view is of far greater importance.
Buffalo Has Excelled Off and On the Ice
With that said, this would be the perfect opportunity to shift the discussion back to the ice and what has been a solid campaign for the Big Green. After disposing of the St. Lawrence Saints by a score of 2-1 in Game Three of a thrilling weekend series, Dartmouth is now preparing to take on Harvard this coming weekend in a No. 4 v No. 5 matchup.
Take two of the three from the Crimson and the semi-finals would be next, with a shot at grabbing the Whitelaw Cup just around the corner. As the club’s No. 1 netminder, Buffalo has played a key role in helping his team get to where they are and delivered one of his finest performances of the season when it mattered most, in last Sunday’s clincher.
We are rarely given the opportunity in life to make a difference… but that's just what we have right here and now.
— Dartmouth Men's Hockey (@Dartmouth_MIH) February 7, 2018
Though his season was derailed early on due to injury, Buffalo found his game upon returning to the lineup in mid-December and hasn’t looked back since. He has been among the best goalies in the conference down the stretch drive and his 14 wins, 2.69 GAA and .910 SV% are the best totals he has posted since taking over the starters role full-time. Not too shabby at all and clearly his performance did not go unnoticed.
Hobey Nomination Speaks for Itself
With his team still alive in the playoff picture, the Hobey Baker Award is likely not atop Buffalo’s priority list but with stage one of the process now complete, he appears to have a chance to make it through to phase two. Fans had until March 4, 2018 to cast votes to play a part in helping narrow the field down to 10 from 74 and Buffalo had been trending in the five to six range throughout the stage.
There are no guarantees but the possibility for this to go his way seems plausible and we will have our answer in six days time when the final 10 nominees are announced. Regardless of how this plays out, at the end of the day, just being in the mix for such an award is awfully special and it will be something no one will ever be able to take away from Buffalo and it makes for one heck of a memory.
In my mind, his father Pat Buffalo, who I spoke with roughly six years ago when I first did a story on his boy for OurHometown.ca, sums it up best. According to him, his son “has blazed a trail for others to follow” and that is really what truly matters. He may just be a guy playing goal at Dartmouth to some but you can bet there are kids out there who view him as a role model and that tells us all we need to know about Devin Buffalo.
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Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.