Zach Aston-Reese was in the midst of a video session with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins assistant coach Chris Taylor when word came down that he had been named one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. So the recently-signed rookie hadn’t even received word on the honor before a gaggle of reporters grabbed him on the way back to his locker.
“I just found out from you guys,” said the grinning Aston-Reese. “It’s pretty exciting. I don’t really know what to say. I’m just kind of focusing in on this weekend right now. I’ve got a big weekend coming up. That’s something that I’ll probably have to call my parents about and kind of worry about next week.”
The Hobey Baker Award has been presented every year since 1981 to the top NCAA men’s hockey player for skill on the ice and character inside and outside of the rink. The award is named after former Princeton Tigers forward Hobey Baker (1892-1918), who perished in an airplane accident while serving in France during World War I.
The Hockey East Player of the Year and a First Team all-conference forward, Aston-Reese led the entire nation with 31 goals and tied for the top spot in college hockey with 63 points this year while skating with Northeastern. With that stat sheet, many assumed the Staten Island native would be a shoe-in for one of the final spots for the award.
But Aston-Reese wasn’t one of them.
When asked if he was surprised to be in the final three, Aston-Reese replied, “A little bit. There was a lot of good guys in the top 10 and a lot of guys that made it further with their teams.”
Aston-Reese showed continual improvement during his four seasons at Northeastern, and more than doubled his goal production from his junior to senior seasons (14 goals to 31).
“I never really dreamed about [being nominated for the Hobey Baker Award],” he said. “I was kind of a grinder back in the day. Still am. But I just had some success this year with producing. So it kind of just fell on me this year.”
Signed to an amateur tryout by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on March 18, Aston-Reese has recorded six points (2+4) in his first four games with the AHL club, and carries a four-game point streak into Friday night’s road contest against the Springfield Thurnderbirds.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins return home for a pair of games this weekend against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Saturday at 7:05pm) and Utica Comets (Sunday at 3:05pm). Sunday’s game is a KIDS FREE contest, with fans ages 14 and younger able to attend the game for FREE with a paid adult ticket.
Tickets for both games are available at the Mohegan Sun Arena box office, online at TicketMaster.com or by calling 570-208-7267.