Hildebrand Takes Top Honors at Spartan Hockey Banquet
Freshman just second player in school history to claim Rookie, MVP Awards in same season
April 17, 2013
East Lansing, Mich. - - Freshman Jake Hildebrand (Butler, Pa.) and senior Chris Forfar (Darien, Ill.) each took home two team awards as the Michigan State hockey team officially closed the books on the 2012-13 season at the annual team banquet on Wednesday, April 17. Spartan great and current US National Team Development Program U-17 coach Danton Cole was honored as the program's "Distinguished Spartan".
Hildebrand became just the second player in program history to take home Most Valuable Player honors in addition to the Outstanding Rookie Award in the same season. (Ron Scott, also a goaltender, accomplished the feat in 1981 - 12 years before Hildebrand was born). The freshman netminder put together an impressive rookie season, as he owned a .928 save percentage, good for 14th nationally and fourth in the CCHA - and finished with a 2.35 goals against average. He started 28 of MSU's 42 games, and made 27 saves or more 22 times in 28 starts. Hildebrand also allowed two goals or fewer on 17 occasions, and recorded two shutouts. He was named the CCHA Goaltender of the Week on Jan. 14, was an Honorable Mention on the CCHA All-Rookie team, and was MSU's Perani Cup champion for earning the most three-stars designations throughout the conference season.
Forfar was the team's Bill Burgess Outstanding Senior Award recipient, as well as the winner of the Spartan Fitness Award, based on pre-season testing. Forfar was voted a team alternate captain in the fall by his teammates, and posted his best offensive season in his career as a senior. He had 10, 6, and 11 points in his first three seasons, and finished his final year with a 4-8-12 scoring line. Forfar, who appeared in a senior-class best 156 career games, was a driving force in creating the Student-Athlete Food Drive as a freshman, which this past fall had its best year in collecting donations for the Greater Lansing and MSU Food Banks.
Sophomore Matt Berry (Canton, Mich.) was the team's Outstanding Offensive Player. Berry went from a 11-8-19 scoring line in his freshman season to leading the team with a 15-16-31 output as a sophomore. Berry was tied for 10th in CCHA scoring, and tied for eighth in goals. In two seasons, Berry has 50 points in 78 career games.
Senior Matt Grassi won the Dr. John Downs Outstanding Defensive Player Award. Grassi appeared in a career-best 41 games as a senior after missing a significant portion of his senior season with injury. An alternate captain, Grassi helped anchor an extremely young defensive corps that welcomed four first-year players who had to perform every night. A solid defensive defenseman, Grassi finished the season a +1, second-best on the team, with a goal and two assists and 56 blocked shots. In his Spartan career, he was a +9 and owned a 3-16-19 scoring line in 121 career games played.
The Most Improved Player Award went to sophomore Tanner Sorenson (Anchorage, Alaska). Sorenson went from a 2-6-8 line as a freshman to 13-8-21 as a sophomore, the largest increase in production for any player from 2011-12 to this season. He ranked second on the team in both goals and points, with four goals coming on the power play and two standing as game-winners.
Junior captain Greg Wolfe (Canton, Mich.) was the recipient of the Amo Bessone Award, which honors both athletic and scholastic achievement, as well as community participation. Wolfe earned the team's top GPA honors at the SASS Academic Gala on Monday, as he boasts a 3.67 grade-point average as a supply chain management major. Wolfe finished the season in a tie for second on the team in points (21), and was third in assists (12) and fourth in goals (9). Wolfe played in all situations, contributing three power-play goals in addition to his role on the penalty kill. Off the ice, Wolfe is frequently the first player from the team to volunteer for any outreach opportunity, not only now as the team captain, but also in his freshman and sophomore seasons as well. He has participated in "March is Reading Month" in local elementary schools, volunteered at school carnivals, spearheaded the "Teams for Toys" program for the hockey team, and is active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters. He has also been an active participant in the Student-Athlete Food Drive, and Relay for Life.
Anthony Hayes (Canton, Mich.) was the recipient of the Blue Line President's Award, presented to the top scholar-athlete in the senior class. Hayes, a finance major with a 3.53 grade-point average, was a two-year alternate captain and appeared in 143 career games, second-best among the senior class. Hayes had two game-winners in the season's final two weeks - MSU's lone goal in a 1-0 Senior Night victory over Western Michigan, and in the deciding game three vs. Alaska in the CCHA first round. He finished with a team-best three game-winning goals on the season, and scored a career-best five goals as a senior. He finished tied for seventh in the CCHA in game-winning goals. In the classroom, Hayes stands out as a leader among his classmates, one of the most professional presenters in his senior-level courses, and performed particularly well despite taking two weeks to play professional hockey at the end of the Spartan season.
Finally, freshman Ryan Keller received the Goofus Award, given annually to the team humorist. The award has traditionally been won by the same player several years during their playing careers; in fact, there have been just five winners since 2003.