Five goaltenders from New England schools were named candidates for the inaugural Mike Richter Award on Friday.
The new honor, sponsored by Let's Play Hockey and the Herb Brooks Foundation, will be presented to the most outstanding goaltender in Division 1 hockey at this year's NCAA Frozen Four in Philadelphia.
Thatcher Demko of top-ranked Boston College is one of just two freshmen in the group of 18 candidates. The native of San Diego has been a force between the pipes in his first season, guiding the Eagles in 13 victories.
Demko's 1.74 goals-against average is best in the nation, while his .937 save percentage trails only two fellow Richter candidates, Northeastern senior Clay Witt and UMass Lowell sophomore Connor Hellebuyck.
Entering the season, defense and goaltending were major question marks for the No. 9 Northeastern Huskies. Witt has been a serviceable backstop and then some on Huntington Avenue, posting 30 or more saves on 18 occasions this year.
In addition to the aforementioned three, Maine senior Martin Ouellette and Providence sophomore Jon Gillies (South Portland, Maine) are also candidates for the award which is named for Mike Richter, who remains one of the top goaltenders in the National Hockey League over the past several decades.
Ouellette has played in all but one of Maine's games this year, shutting out the opposition three times. Gillies, the reigning Hockey East Rookie of the Year and a Calgary Flame prospect, has been the man from the start for the Friars and opened the season with ten wins in his first 14 starts.
Candidates for the Mike Richter Award must have displayed outstanding skills on the ice, a strong academic standing and involvement in the community. The group of 18 was determined by nominations from all 59 NCAA Division I men’s hockey head coaches.