BOSTON – As announced by Bob Norton, president of the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston, 18 student-athletes are semi-finalists for the fifteenth Joe Concannon Award, presented annually to the best American-born college hockey player in New England at the NCAA Division II/III level. Among them is Salve Regina University men’s ice hockey defenseman Alex Pompeo.
Pompeo, who joined the Seahawks squad this season after transferring from Southern Maine University, currently is second on the team in goals (7) and third in assists (10). Pompeo also leads the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Northeast in scoring as a defenseman.
“It’s an incredible honor for Alex to be nominated as the best American-born player in New England,” said head coach Andy Boschetto. “It says a lot about Alex and his ability to play the game. He’s a hardworking kid, and he’s humble. You never hear him talk about points, he just wants to win, and to be a part of something.”
Pompeo’s impact on the Seahawks has been immediate, but it’s not just his goal scoring that’s made the biggest difference.
“He makes other people around him better,” Boschetto said. “A great player does things naturally as an individual, but when you make players around you better then that is what a good teammate is and a good player.”
Pompeo is the first Salve Regina player to be nominated for this award, which was first awarded in 2001.
“This cadre of 18 semifinalists is the largest group we have ever included for consideration,” said Gridiron Club Hockey Awards Committee chairman Tim Costello. “This list reflects the high level of play and talent found across the conferences in New England. Our committee believes that the level of play merited increasing the number of players for consideration. As is the case each season, it will definitely be a challenge for the committee to pick the winner from the players nominated.”
The Gridiron Club plans to announce the finalists and winner of the 15th Joe Concannon Award in March, prior to the start of NCAA Frozen Four Tournament play and present the award during the New England Hockey Writers dinner in April.
This year’s nominees comprise nine forwards, five offensively talented defensemen and four exceptional goaltenders. The candidates include eight players from the NESCAC conference, six from the ECAC East conference, three from the ECAC Northeast and one from the NE-10 Conference.
Twelve of this year’s semifinalists are members of nationally ranked teams. They include, from the ECAC East, Alec Thieda (Rochester Hills, MI) and Dean Niezgoda (Brewster, MA) from number-one-ranked Norwich University; Jamie Murray (Scituate, MA) and Mike Vollmin (Wilmington, NC) from Babson College; Stephen Buco (North Providence, RI) and Michael Kuhn (Holbrook, MA) from Massachusetts-Boston.
The semifinalists from ranked NESCAC teams are Sean Dougherty (Smithtown, NY) and Craig Kitto (Ashburn, VA) from Williams College; Aaron Deutsch (Lloyd Harbor, NY) from Amherst College; and last season’s Joe Concannon Award winner, Jackson Brewer (Newton, MA), along with teammates Michael Flynn (Cheshire, CY) and Ryan Cole (Anchorage, AK) from Trinity College.
Two more NESCAC institutions are represented with worthy nominees. Sophomore EJ Rauseo (Methuen, MA) leads the Mules of Colby College in scoring and has provided great team leadership. The final NESCAC nominee is senior Connor Quinn (Sudbury, MA), who leads Bowdoin College in scoring.
Two goaltenders join Alex Pompeo to represent the ECAC Northeast Conference. Sophomore goalie Joey Ballmer (Kalamazoo, MI) is another repeat nominee carrying a .935 save percentage and 1.88 goals-against average for Johnson and Wales University. Junior Alex Larson (Madison, AL) of the Nichols College Bison ranks among the nation’s top goaltenders. He has 13 wins, a .953 save percentage, and a 1.68 goals-against average.
From NCAA Division II ranks and the Northeast-10 Conference is junior forward Joe Collins (Mansfield, MA) of Southern New Hampshire University. His 38 points to date lead the scoring parade for the Penmen, who are seeking to repeat as NE-10 champions.