Cale Makar claims 2019 Hobey Baker Memorial Award

First UMass player to win it in program history

Cale+Makar+accepts+the+Hobey+Baker+award+at+Harborcenter+in+Buffalo%2C+NY+on+Friday%2C+Apr.+12%2C+2019.+Photo+by+Jon+Asgeirsson.
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Cale Makar claims 2019 Hobey Baker Memorial Award

Cale Makar accepts the Hobey Baker award at Harborcenter in Buffalo, NY on Friday, Apr. 12, 2019. Photo by Jon Asgeirsson.

Cale Makar accepts the Hobey Baker award at Harborcenter in Buffalo, NY on Friday, Apr. 12, 2019. Photo by Jon Asgeirsson.

Jon Asgeirsson

Cale Makar accepts the Hobey Baker award at Harborcenter in Buffalo, NY on Friday, Apr. 12, 2019. Photo by Jon Asgeirsson.

Jon Asgeirsson

Jon Asgeirsson

Cale Makar accepts the Hobey Baker award at Harborcenter in Buffalo, NY on Friday, Apr. 12, 2019. Photo by Jon Asgeirsson.

By Ryan Ames, Assistant Sports Editor

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BUFFALO, N.Y. – Hobey has Cale.

Cale Makar, the sophomore defenseman on the Massachusetts hockey team, captured the 2019 Hobey Baker Memorial Award Friday night at the HarborCenter.

The award is given to the top player in all of college hockey and Makar is the first UMass player to ever win it.

“It’s very special to accept an award like this and honestly it could have gone to any of those top-10 candidates,” Makar said. “I’m very fortunate [the committee] selected me.”

The Calgary, Alberta native is the first defenseman to win the award since 2017 when Will Butcher took home the hardware for Denver.

Makar beat out Harvard defenseman Adam Fox and St. Cloud State defenseman Jimmy Schuldt for the 39th annual Hobey honor.

“In my wildest dreams, probably, but no it’s definitely not something that I thought could happen in the two years and obviously coming into this second year at UMass, it really, truly became a possibility right at the beginning of the season and I think we’ve been riding that all year,” Makar said.

Minutemen coaches Greg Carvel, Ben Barr, and Jared DeMichiel were in the building, as well as his parents Gary and Laura and cousin Mark to see Makar take home the top prize.

“It’s very cool to have my parents in the building and also my cousin Mark Logan who played at RIT as well and so he drove up for this which was pretty special as well,” Makar said. “It’s pretty cool when they get to come all the way out to the East again and it’s a beautiful city in Buffalo, once again for another tournament.”

Makar’s personal success has come in stride with the entire UMass team as the Minutemen are one win away from securing the national championship. The season before he arrived, UMass was a Hockey East cellar-dweller that could only muster five total victories.

Since the 6-foot, 192-pounder arrived in Amherst, the Minutemen have become a top-tier team, as evidenced by their place in the Frozen Four national championship game against Minnesota-Duluth.

“Our goal all along has just been to create recognition for this program and what it can be, and I think this just creates to that in the fact that when you are a good player you can come in and thrive at a university such as UMass,” Makar said. “Not saying that I am a good player, but just in [that] sense you should know that when you come to UMass you’re respected, and everybody has a chance to play.”

The past 24 hours have treated Makar and the Minutemen well as they secured their spot in the finals after a wild, overtime win against Denver on Thursday night.

“It’s a lot to take in, and it’s just been a long week in Buffalo,” Makar said. “But at the end of the day, we’re here and we’ve made our goal possible in terms of playing in that national championship.”

It’s expected that Makar will head to the Colorado Avalanche and step right into their playoff lineup at some point following Saturday’s game, but the blueliner still has his sights set on a national championship.

“Obviously you can’t ask for a much better way to end a college career than at a national championship game and hopefully hoisting a trophy, but after that we’ll see what happens,” Makar said. “Everything’s kind of up in the air in regards to everything right now.”

Makar will seek to become just the seventh player to win the Hobey Baker and a national title in the same season on Saturday.

“It’s always a good time when you get to play with a team, especially in the championship series,” Makar said. “So, it’s been a team event and we’re excited to get it going.”

Ryan Ames can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @_RyanAmes.