Detroit Red Wings
Clear Bag Policy Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App
 

 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

Prospect shoots for award, national title

Wisconsin's Smith is nation's best defenseman and Hobey Baker Award candidate

Thursday, 02.11.2010 / 4:35 PM ET / Features
By Christy Hammond  - Community Relations Manager
X
Share with your Friends


Prospect shoots for award, national title
In order to view this page you need JavaScript and Flash Player 9+ support!
MADISON, Wis. – In the weeks leading up to the outdoor hockey game at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium, Red Wings prospect and Badgers defenseman Brendan Smith eagerly awaited the atmosphere that would take place.

He wasn’t disappointed as he marveled after the game at the sight of over 55,000 fans jumping up and down to the House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” which is a Wisconsin football tradition but was apropos for this hockey setting.

“It brings you back to your childhood memories and the sound of your skates on the ice, when the puck hits the boards,” Smith said of playing outdoors. “When a young player is on the ice, all they think about is winning the Stanley Cup on a backdoor rink, and this is pretty close.”

The Badgers’ leading scorer and Hobey Baker Award candidate scored a pair of third-period goals in the Camp Randall Outdoor Classic on Feb. 6, helping No. 3 ranked Wisconsin to a 3-2 comeback victory over Michigan in front of 55,031 hockey crazed fans, who braved bone-chilling temperatures to become the second largest crowd ever to witness a college hockey game.

Smith’s offensive skills aside, it’s extremely difficult for a defenseman to win college hockey’s equivalent to the Heisman Trophy, which is widely considered the annual prize for college football’s best offensive player.

“I really have to shock and awe if I’m going to put my name up in the top three candidates,” Smith explained. “I’m just going to try and play the best that I can play. If somehow my name can get mentioned, that’ll be great, but as of right now we’re just trying to win as many games as possible and go from there.”

Making matters worst for Smith, only six defensemen have received the nation's top individual honor in the 29-year history of the award, including two in the last four years: Philadelphia's Matt Carle (Univ. of Denver, 2007) and New York Rangers' Matt Gilroy (Boston Univ., 2009).

The junior defenseman, who was selected in the first round – No. 27 overall – in the 2007 draft by the Red Wings, certainly lived up to his Hobey Baker candidacy, firing off both shots from above the right faceoff circle to score the game-tying and eventual game-winning goals against UM. The winning tally came with 82-seconds remaining in regulation.

As the defender quarterbacking Wisconsin’s power play, it’s no surprise that Smith’s goals with the man-advantage padded his power-play scoring numbers to a team-leading eight goals and nine assists.

Smith leads the Badgers with 33 points, which also qualifies as the nation’s top defenseman in scoring. He’s 10th in the country in power-play goals and No. 15 with 1.27 points per game, making him a viable candidate for the Hobey Baker, which will be presented on April 9 – the night before the NCAA championship at Detroit’s Ford Field.

Any post-season awards were the furthest from Smith’s mind prior to this season. He had just hoped for a breakout year after multiple injuries prevented him from playing full seasons in his first two years at Wisconsin. The Mimico, Ontario, native has missed one game this season, which has allowed him to blossom.

Jiri Fischer, the Wings’ director of player development, remains in touch with Smith as he progresses through this important season. The Wings have been impressed with his offensive abilities, but Fischer spent some time with Smith last month to work on ways to play more defensively sound, particularly when playing without the puck.

Smith’s plus-13 rating ranks fourth on his team, but the defenseman would like to see his plus-minus rating pick up to reflect his improved defensive positioning, which he credits for the boost in his offensive numbers this season.

“When I play better defensively,” Smith said, “somehow I’m finding myself in better positions offensively and creating opportunities.”

With one month left in the college hockey regular-season, Smith looks to take his team to Detroit for the Frozen Four, and ultimately a national title. Winning the Hobey Baker? That would be icing on the cake for this Wings’ prospect.


SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 53 31 16 6 143 118 68
3 NYR 53 30 18 5 150 135 65
4 TBL 52 29 19 4 138 123 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 53 27 18 8 133 131 62
7 PIT 52 27 18 7 138 132 61
8 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
9 NJD 54 26 21 7 120 122 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 OTT 54 25 23 6 153 166 56
13 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
D. Larkin 52 18 20 26 38
H. Zetterberg 53 9 27 3 36
T. Tatar 52 16 17 -1 33
G. Nyquist 53 14 15 -2 29
P. Datsyuk 38 8 20 12 28
J. Abdelkader 53 14 13 -3 27
M. Green 46 4 17 -7 21
N. Kronwall 45 3 14 -10 17
B. Richards 39 5 11 7 16
D. DeKeyser 49 6 8 12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 20 10 4 .933 1.97
J. Howard 7 8 4 .904 2.89