The Greatest

100 greatest college hockey players of all time, Part 1 (100-76)

jason-krog-unh-elsa-getty
Jason Krog made his final moments in a UNH uniform count, propelling the Wildcats to their first national championship game appearance while wrapping up a Hobey Baker campaign. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Editor’s Note: In the first edition of our weekly series, “The Greatest,” we’re kicking things off with a robust, in-depth countdown of the 100 greatest college hockey players of all time. The Pucks and Rec college staff queried some of NCAA hockey’s all-time greatest bench bosses for their input.

Here’s Andrew Wisneski’s look at Nos. 100-76, featuring the head coach of the UNH Wildcats, Dick Umile.

100. Marty Turco, G, Michigan (1994-98)

Turco arrived in Ann Arbor to face the task of replacing Steve Shields, who was the nation’s all-time wins leader with 111. Turco proceeded to shatter the record, winning 127 games over his four seasons. That total remains the most in NCAA hockey history.

To go along with these wins, he collected a number of personal accolades, including the 1995 CCHA Rookie of the Year and a first-team All-American roster spot as a junior. With Turco as their rock, the Wolverines advanced to four consecutive Frozen Fours, winning both the 1996 and 1998 national championships in overtime.

 99. Brian Swanson, F, Colorado College (1995-99)

Swanson emerged quickly as a key player for the Tigers, totaling 59 points as a freshman and earning the WCHA’s top rookie award. He followed this up by leading his team in scoring in each of the next three seasons, earning team MVP honors. His 232 points rank second-best in Colorado College history.

On a national scale, Swanson was a two-time All-American (1998 and 1999), as well as a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist in 1997 and 1999. He was later named one of the WCHA’s top 50 players as part of The Hockey News’  50th anniversary celebration.

98. Jim Dowd, F, Lake Superior State (1987-91)

Dowd is LSSU’s all-time leading scorer with 274 career points. He posted a career-best 92 points as a junior to establish the program’s single-season record, then won the CCHA’s MVP Award as a senior. Dowd was named team MVP and earned All-American honors in each of these seasons, and was a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist in 1991.

At Dowd’s 2010 induction into the LSSU Hall of Fame, per the university’s press release, former linemate Jeff Napierala said of Dowd, “He helped me through … He played like a kid having fun every night — an incredible hockey player who loved to play, and a good friend.”

97. Bill Riley, F, Dartmouth (1946-49)

One of three brothers to play at Dartmouth, Riley began his career with the Big Green on the freshman squad in 1943, but had to leave college to serve in World War II.  He then returned to play three varsity seasons, amassing a program-best 228 points in 71 games.

In his junior and senior years, Riley earned All-American honors and made the NCAA all-tournament teams. In his senior year he scored 78 points, another Dartmouth record. He also set the Dartmouth single-season record for assists with 41 while his brother, Joe, set the single-season goalscoring record with 45.

96. Scott Parse, F, Nebraska-Omaha (2007-11)

Parse is the Mavericks’ all-time leading scorer, having amassed 197 points over 159 games. During his junior year, he scored 61 points, a UNO single-season record, en route to being named CCHA player of the year.

He was an All-American and a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist in his final two seasons. These were the first two seasons in which he earned national recognition. But throughout his tenure, he was well-recognized on campus, being named team MVP and leading the team in scoring each year.

95. Jason Krog, F, New Hampshire (1995-99)

Krog won the Hobey Baker in 1999 after scoring 85 points in his senior year. Along with this exclusive honor, he was a two-time All-American and led his team in scoring during three of his four seasons. He ranks second in scoring all-time at UNH, behind Ralph Cox.

“We’ve had some great forwards here at UNH, but he’s one of the all-time greats,” longtime Wildcats coach Dick Umile told Pucks and Rec. “He was a great player, highly skilled, very smart, and went on to have a career in the NHL.”

94. Mike Zuke, F, Michigan Tech (1973-77)

With 310 career points, Zuke is MTU’s all-time leading scorer. This total ranks third in the NCAA hockey career record book. His best season came as a senior, when he scored 104 points, good for ninth-most in a single season in NCAA history.

Zuke was the WCHA rookie of the year in 1972-73 and the player of the year in 1975-76. He was also named an All-American in his sophomore and senior campaigns, and helped the Huskies to three national championship games, winning the title in his junior year. He was named to the all-time WCHA second team by the aforementioned THN report.

Top 100 NCAA hockey players of all time - Brian Swanson Colorado College

Brian Swanson was third in the nation with 66 points during his senior season in 1998-99. (Photo credit: Colorado College Athletics)

93. Gary Bauman, G, Michigan Tech (1961-64)

Bauman was part of the team that won the NCAA title in the Huskies’ third year as a member of the WCHA. On that road, he set the program record with a 16-game undefeated streak. His consistency was evident throughout his career, as he still owns the best save percentage in team history (.916) and has 48 wins, which is second-most.

He earned numerous WCHA honors throughout his career including the conference’s top goalie award in 1962-63, and was a three-time all conference first team member. Nationally, he was a two-time All-American and earned a spot on the NCAA all-tournament second team in the championship year.

92. Wayne Smith, F, Denver (1963-66)

Smith broke out quickly during his rookie year. He was named to the all-WCHA second team and earned a spot on the NCAA all-tournament team after the Pioneers lost the national championship game.

In the end, he played three seasons with Denver, averaging nearly a point per night over 80 games.  He was named a first-team All-American in each of his final two years, cementing his place among the Pioneers’ best.

91. Ty Conklin, G, New Hampshire (1998-01)

Conklin emerged as the starter during his freshman year, putting up a sparkling 1.84 goals-against average to go along with a 18-3-1 record. He carried his team all the way to the NCAA final that year. In each of his final two years, he was a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist and was named to All-American squads.

“Ty brought us to our first national championship game in Anaheim in ’99,” Umile recalled. “Obviously, he had a great career here. He was a tremendous player for us. He won us a lot of games, and gave you an opportunity to win every night.”

The Greatest NCAA hockey players: Brian Hills of Bowling Green

Brian Hills was a dominant force in the CCHA, especially as an upperclassman. (Photo credit: BGSU Athletics)

90. Lou Nanne, D, Minnesota (1960-63)

In his third and final year, Nanne put up one of the most impressive seasons for a defender in Minnesota and WCHA history, tallying 43 points in 29 games.

This led the WCHA in scoring, earning him the designation of conference MVP. He also earned first-team All-American honors in that year. Overall, he tallied 74 points in 81 games over three seasons with the Golden Gophers.

89. Jamie Ram, G, Michigan Tech (1990-94)

Ram earned first team All-American honors in his final two seasons at Michigan Tech. In his final season he also was a top-10 finalist for the Hobey Baker. This was despite his team going just 13-27-5 on the season.

Within the conference, he earned all-rookie honors in the 1990-91 season, then was named to the WCHA first-team in his junior and senior years.

88. Bruce Racine, G, Northeastern (1984-88)

Racine was a member of Northeastern during Hockey East’s inaugural season, making the new league’s all-rookie team. He went on to become a first-team All-American in his junior and senior years and capped his career by backstopping NU’s first Hockey East postseason title run.

Umile, who was an assistant coach at league rival Providence during Racine’s reign, said, “Bruce Racine was a tremendous goaltender. We’ve had a lot of great goaltenders in Hockey East, and he was one of the great ones that went on to have a fabulous career.”

87. Scott Beattie, F, Northern Michigan (1989-92)

Beattie rose to prosperity early on in Marquette, as his 56 freshman points earned him the WCHA’s top rookie title. But he really made a name for himself as a sophomore, scoring a program-record 48 goals, which also ranks 10th in NCAA history for a single season.

Beattie added 41 assists for 89 points, after which he was named a first-team All American and a top-10 Hobey Baker candidate. He followed that remarkable season with a 74-point effort in his junior year, which also saw him among the top-10 Hobey Baker finalists.

86. Bob Gaudreau, D, Brown (1963-66)

Gaudreau scored 35 goals over his tenure with Brown, good for second in program history among defensemen. His defensive prowess was also recognized, as he was named the ECAC’s top defensive defenseman in 1965-66.

He stood out throughout his career, earning a spot on the all-ECAC second team after his first season. He also won the 1965 Walter Brown Award and was twice a first-team All-American.

100 Greatest NCAA hockey players - Chase Polacek

Chase Polacek is one of only four men to have won two ECAC MVP awards in the league’s 55-year history. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

85. Brian Hills, F, Bowling Green (1979-83)

Hills steadily increased his offensive output over his four years. He scored 81 and a team-record 94 points over his last two seasons, respectively, and finished his career with 270 points, second in program history.

Those impressive junior and senior seasons earned him recognition beyond the Falcons as well. He was a Hobey Baker top-10 finalist, an All-American and CCHA scoring leader in each of those years. He also earned the league’s MVP honors in his final season.

84. Chase Polacek, F, Rensselaer (2007-11)

Polacek played 154 games over four seasons, which is tied for the most in program history. He was the ECAC’s player of the year and a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist in consecutive seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11).

He earned numerous other ECAC honors throughout his career, including a spot on the all-rookie team during and the all-conference first team in his junior and senior seasons. Polacek is one of two Engineers to have repeated as ECAC player of the year, joining Bob Brinkworth.

83. Jeff Panzer, F, North Dakota (1997-01)

Panzer made an immediate impact at UND, averaging at least a point per game in his first two seasons. He went on to produce very impressive upperclass seasons, ultimately tallying a total of 228 points over his four years, good for third-most in team history.

His final two seasons earned him recognition on a larger scale. He was a Hobey Baker finalist and first team All-American in each year. His 82-point senior year earned him the title of WCHA player of the year.

82. Nelson Emerson, F, Bowling Green (1986-90)

Emerson is BGSU’s all-time leading scorer, having scored 294 points in 178 games, and is one of three players to have his number retired by the Falcons.

Emerson started his career well, complete with CCHA rookie of the year honors after a 61-point freshman campaign. He followed this up with three more impressive campaigns that had him named a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist in each season. He also earned All-American honors in his sophomore and senior campaigns, in which he scored 83 and 82 points, respectively.

81. Mike York, F, Michigan State (1995-99)

York was a solid, all-around key cog for the Spartans throughout his career. He was a two-time Hobey Baker top-10 finalist, first-team All-American and also earned the CCHA’s MVP and best defensive forward awards during his senior year.

The Greatest NCAA hockey players - Bill Reichart

Though not the program’s most decorated alumnus in terms of professional achievements, Bill Reichart was an early standard-setter at North Dakota. (Photo credit: UND Media Relations)

80. Bill Reichart, F, North Dakota (1954-57)

Reichart played three seasons with UND, scoring 97 goals, which ranks fifth in team history. He also averaged 1.84 points per game over the course of his career, which ranks third.

A standout performance for him came in 1954 against Minnesota-Duluth, when he scored a team-record nine points in one game. He was a very consistent player during his time on campus, as evidenced by the fact that he was a first-team All-American in all three seasons.

79. John Cunniff, F, Boston College (1963-66)

Cunniff scored 52 points in 28 games as a first-year Eagle. This was enough to earn the title of the ECAC’s top rookie and BC’s team MVP. He continued his impressive offensive output in his next two seasons, averaging over two points per game in each.

He was named to the All-American team in both of these seasons. During his second year. he scored 63 points in 27 games. This impactful season led to him being named ECAC player of the year.

78. Jean-Yves Roy, F, Maine (1989-92)

Roy led the Black Bears in his first two seasons with 65 and 82 points, respectively. He followed this up with an impressive 56-point campaign in his third and final season. His sophomore and junior years earned him first-team All-American honors and he was also named a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist.

“Throughout his career, he was one of the great forwards in college hockey and a great goal-scorer,” Umile remarked.

77. John Marks, D, North Dakota (1967-70)

Marks played three years for UND, scoring 60 points over 92 games. His freshman performance convinced the Chicago Blackhawks to draft him ninth overall in 1968. He was then named a first-team All-American in his final two seasons at Grand Forks. Marks also was named to the all-conference first-team after his final season.

76. Brett Sterling, F, Colorado College (2002-06)

Sterling and teammate Marty Sertich were a dynamic duo for the Tigers in the mid 2000s. In 2004-05, Sterling was second in the nation with 63 points, behind Sertich. He was also a member of the Hobey Hat Trick, with his teammate winning the award. Sterling was also a top-10 finalist the following year.

Sterling was a bona fide clutch goal-scorer, tallying 23 clinchers during his four seasons, tying him for the most in NCAA history. His 108 career goals still stand as the third-most in CC program history.

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Andrew Wisneski

3 comments

  1. Carl DeLucia 12 September, 2016 at 14:19 Reply

    This is a great article. Extremely through, really enjoyed it. Great to see some of these names again. So interesting how so many went on to strong NHL careers while others were merely average, others had a cup of tea and others didn’t play any pro.

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