2 from MU nominated for NCAA hockey award

Marco Cicchino, Staff writer

It was announced on Jan. 16 that Mercyhurst forward Derek Barach and defenseman Joseph Duszak have been included in initial nominations for the 38th annual Hobey Baker Memorial Award as part of 14 overall Atlantic Hockey players and 81 from around college hockey. As nominated by the Mercyhurst Athletic department, the two have combined to help lead the Lakers to a current 10-9-1 record in Atlantic Hockey play and 12-14-2 overall.

Duszak, a junior from Franklin Square, Long Island, currently leads Atlantic Hockey in scoring with a 14-23-37 line through 22 games, second in the nation to Michigan State’s Taro Hirose (13-29-42). Duszak leads the country among defensemen by 8 points, over Quinnipiac’s Chase Priskie (13-16-29).

The Lakers are 6-2-1 when Duszak finds the back of the net, and his 11 power-play points are tied for fourth among Atlantic defensemen with his 89 shots on goal third nationally among blueliners. The 21-year-old has registered four game-winning goals this year, tied for second nationally among defensemen, including an overtime winner Nov. 16 in Connecticut against Sacred Heart.

Duszak is also the only defenseman nationally to record both a hat-trick (Jan. 4 against Holy Cross) and a shorthanded goal (Dec. 8 in Colorado Springs). His 14 road assists place him second nationally, while his 11 third-period helpers lead the nation. Meanwhile, Barach’s 11-18-29 line place him in a tie for ninth nationally and third in Atlantic Hockey, eight behind Duszak and one behind American International College’s Blake Christensen, who moved ahead of him after the Jan. 26 “Fighting for Folgs” game. The Glenmont, New York, native is one of only five Lakers to play in all 28 games this season and is tied with Duszak at fifth place in the Atlantic conference with nine power-play assists. Barach is also third in faceoff wins, behind co-captain Joshua Lammon with 292 faceoff wins.

Registering an 8-4-1 record when credited with an assist, Barach’s 18 assists place him third among Atlantic forwards. Barach and Duszak are the only conference players with 18 points on the road this season, with Barach’s nine goals on the road leading the conference and making him one of only five players nationally to boast this feat.

“Having both of these guys nominated is the right thing to do,” head coach Rick Gotkin said. “Because they’re both great players and great kids. They’re both great leaders.”

The two Lakers will aim to become the first Atlantic Hockey players to win the award and are now among a handful of recent Atlantic Hockey Top 10 finalists. Fans are allowed to vote daily online until March 10, with a second round beginning March 20. The winner will be announced at the Men’s Frozen Four in Buffalo over the weekend of April 11.