Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - UMass-Lowell sophomore goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was named the first-ever winner of the Mike Richter Award Friday, which seeks to honor the top goaltender in Division I hockey.
The 20-year-old Michigan native finished the 2013-14 season with an 18-9-2 record, 1.79 goals-against average, .941 save percentage and six shutouts, to lead the River Hawks to their second consecutive Hockey East postseason title and a berth in the NCAA playoffs. Lowell topped Minnesota State before losing in the Northeast Regional final to conference rival Boston College.
Hellebuyck bested a field which included sophomore backstop Adam Wilcox -- who will lead Minnesota into the national final on Saturday against top-ranked Union -- Northeastern junior Clay Witt, Denver senior Sam Brittain and Wisconsin junior Joel Rumpel.
Hellebuyck signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the Jets last week, and departed campus having accrued the same amount of losses as shutouts (12). Winnipeg selected him in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft.
Richter, 47, a Philadelphia-area native who played 14 NHL seasons for the New York Rangers, began his career with the University of Wisconsin, playing two years (1985-87) for head coach Jeff Sauer.
The finalists and winner were chosen by a committee of coaches, scouts and media members.
The Hobey Baker Award, whose recipient will be announced later Friday, has only been granted to two netminders since its 1981 inception: Robb Stauber of Minnesota in 1988 and Michigan State's Ryan Miller in 2001.