"He went through a cowboy phase," Kelly Geoffrion said. "He has the pistol, the boots and he would have a lasso and lasso everything in the house."
Who would have believed that after 29 years, the University of Wisconsin's first Hobey Baker Award winner would be a defunct cowboy?
One of the few feathers not in the cap of the men's hockey program, senior tri-captain Blake Geoffrion was awarded by returning for his senior year when he was given college hockey's top individual honor in a Friday night ceremony at Ford Field.
"I didn't think I would (win) the Hobey Baker Award coming back, that's for sure," a beaming and red-faced Geoffrion said. "I just wanted to get my degree. I am pumped and so happy to win this award. I can't think my teammates enough because I certainly wouldn't be here without them."
Geoffrion has scored 28 goals - including a nation leading 15 on the power play - and registered 50 points for the Badgers, who will face Boston College for the NCAA title on Saturday night.
Geoffrion beat out Hockey East Player of the Year Bobby Butler – a senior forward for New Hampshire that led the nation with 29 goals and was second best with 53 points – and Maine sophomore forward Gustav Nyquist, the runner up for the Hockey East award after leading the country in points (61) and assists (42).
The 59 Division 1 coaches and a fan poll put Geoffrion, along with teammate Brendan Smith, in the top 10 and a 24-member panel voted on a the player that best symbolizes the award named after a former Princeton hockey player – character, leadership and sportsmanship.
A second-round draft pick of Nashville in the 2006 draft, Geoffrion fit that billing. In addition to his scoring, won 59 percent of his faceoffs, has been the driving force in the postseason and takes time away from finishing his degree in Consumer Science to visit cancer patients at the UW Children's Hospital.
"That probably was the difference in all areas because he's so down to earth," UW Coach Mike Eaves said. "All those areas that define Hobey Baker, you can see why they chose Blake this year."
Entering the night, Wisconsin was one of five schools to have won an NCAA title but not had a Hobey recipient, joining Cornell, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Rensselaer. It's not the Badgers haven't had capable nominees. In 1990, Gary Shuchuk scored 41 goals and 80 points in 45 games to help led the Badgers to the school's fifth title, but he wasn't even considered one of the 10 Hobey finalists.
Steve Reinprecht was overlooked in 2000 despite leading the nation in scoring with 66 points (26 goals, 40 assists) in 37 games. He finished second to Boston College defenseman Mike Mottau, who wasn't even the best player on his own team. Nine previous a UW player was nominated in the top 10 and came home empty handed unless Geoffrion made UW and Hobey mix.
"There have been some great names to have come through Wisconsin – Mike Eaves, Mark Johnson, Dany Heatley," Geoffrion said "I don't think I'd put myself in that category … and I am happy to bring this award back to the school."
The award is another accolade in a long line of accolades for the Geoffrion family. Blake's father, Danny, grandfather Bernie and his great grandpa Howie Morenz all played for the Montreal Canadiens. Bernie, nicknamed ‘Boom Boom' is credited with popularizing the slapshot and won six Stanley Cups while Howie won three Lord Stanley Cups.
"I've got a little something," Geoffrion said, "but I wouldn't say it's anything close to what they accomplished."
He can accomplish more tomorrow, becoming one of six players that have won the Hobey and the national championship in the same year, a feat accomplished last year by Boston University's Matt Gilroy.
"I wanted to have a chance to win a national championship since I got here day one at Wisconsin with my senior class," Geoffrion said. "I knew we had a good team with good strong depth as a team. I knew we had something special brewing."