Northeastern’s Gaudette goes from under-the-radar recruit to 2018 Hobey Baker Award winner

Adam Gaudette is Northeastern’s first Hobey Baker Award winner (photo: Melissa Wade).

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Northeastern junior Adam Gaudette captured the 38th Hobey Baker Award, given annually to the NCAA’s top Division I men’s ice hockey player.

Unlike fellow Hobey Hat Trick finalists Ryan Donato (Harvard) and Henrik Borgström (Denver), who could not attend due to commitments with their new NHL teams, Gaudette was in attendance on Friday despite having already joined the Vancouver Canucks.

Gaudette led the nation in scoring with 30 goals and 30 assists. In his three years, he helped lead Northeastern to its first Hockey East championship since 1988, its first Beanpot title in 30 years, and NCAA tournament appearances in two of the three seasons.

“We’re not being referred to as Northwestern anymore,” he said with a grin after the ceremony. “Everybody knows who Northeastern is now. It’s really cool to be part of that.”

Gaudette was an “under the radar” recruit who didn’t take long to choose the Huskies.

“I wanted to play in the Beanpot,” he said, a curious comment to those who don’t know the importance of the “Battle for Boston” for kids like Gaudette from the area. “I got passed over by a couple other schools, and I took the Northeastern offer right away.”

Northeastern coaches felt they had a diamond in the rough.

“We saw that doggedness, that second effort,” Huskies coach Jim Madigan recalled. “There was a knock on his skating, but you go to games and you evaluate a player and say he doesn’t do this well and he doesn’t do that well, but all of a sudden he’s got two-and-two [two goals and two assists]. He’s the one that’s making the plays. He plays hard. He’s a hockey player.

“Yeah, there were some deficiencies, but every player has deficiencies. The characteristics he had we knew would allow him to be successful.

“Did we know he’d score 30 points his freshman year and then 52 points the next? Maybe not, but we liked the blue-collar intangibles.”

As the team appeared to be going down the drain his freshman season, getting off to a 1-11-2 start and losing All-American Kevin Roy to a concussion, Madigan decided to elevate Gaudette to the second line and the second power-play unit. Paired with Dylan Sikura, his linemate who also was named a Hobey Baker top 10 finalist this year, Gaudette took off.

“With more opportunity, his game emerged,” Madigan said.

The Huskies flipped from 1-11-2 to a 19-1-2 record from Jan. 1 onward to win their first Hockey East title since 1988. Many contributed, but Gaudette was an important factor as a freshman.

Throughout his career, Gaudette has contributed in all three zones, a complete player.

“I take more pride in being a complete player than just putting up points,” he said. “They go hand in hand with each other. I know that if I’m going to succeed, I’ve got to work in all three zones.”

Gaudette also fulfilled the character component of the Hobey Baker Award.

“Character shows when someone does things whether you see it or not,” Madigan said. “With Adam, you don’t always see it, but you know he’s doing the right things.

“He gravitates to young kids. He goes over to Children’s Hospital and spreads some joy for a little bit or goes to do some reading at one of the Boston schools. He understands that he has a gift that God gave him and this is an opportunity to give back.”

For Gaudette, that’s something of paramount importance.

“It’s special to also be recognized as a good person,” he said. “That’s what makes my parents most proud, that they raised a good human being.”