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Army coach's son, Mercyhurst captain, is nominated for college hockey's top award

By KEN MCMILLAN | The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y. | Published: January 26, 2018

MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. (Tribune News Service) — When a Mercyhurst teammate told Jack Riley he was put up for the prestigious Hobey Baker college hockey award, he thought it was a joke.

"I honestly didn't believe him so I had to check on the website,'' said Riley, the West Point native and fifth-year senior for the Lakers.

For a family that is synonymous with the game of college hockey, this is pretty big news. The Hobey Baker is the equivalent to college football's Heisman Trophy award, and is awarded to the player who best represents the ideals of college hockey, combining talent and character.

"I think Jack is a heck of a hockey player but I think he's a better young man,'' said his father, Army hockey coach Brian Riley. "That's why he's being recognized.''

Jack Riley has been a tremendous leader at Mercyhurst. He missed most of his freshman season due to hip surgery. He came back for another freshman season and was named captain of the Lakers as a sophomore, a rare feat for any team in any sport. He's now serving as captain in his third season.

"I've worked hard, not just over these past four or five years but throughout my whole career to make sure I am doing things the right way,'' he said. "I've had pretty good people to watch: my dad, my uncle (former Army coach Rob Riley), my grandfather (Hall of Fame Army coach Jack Riley) ... just watching all of the old Army players and how they carried themselves. I kind of used that as a guide to model how I carry myself day in and day out.''

Last week, Riley was one of 74 NCAA Division I players put up for the award. Fans will vote during the first phase (VoteForHobey.com) through March 4. Ten finalists will be chosen and the second phase of fan voting runs March 14-25. Three finalists will be announced March 29, and the award will be presented during the NCAA Frozen Four in Saint Paul, Minn., on April 6.

"Just being nominated is such a prestigious honor,'' Jack Riley said. "I've seen some of the other guys that I am on the list with and it's just great to even be in the same sentence with some of those guys. This is always going to be something that I am going to hold to my heart, and just giving thanks to everyone who has helped me to this point.''

Riley has nine goals and eight assists through 23 games. This weekend may be Riley's final games played on the rink where he learned to skate, West Point's Tate Rink. The Lakers and Army Black Knights square off at 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday – there are limited tickets for Friday and the Saturday game is sold out.

"Other than maybe in the playoffs, this could be the last time that I play at home so I am looking forward to it,'' Riley said. "I've had some success there but the past couple of times my dad has gotten the upper hand so I am looking to get on top one last time.''

Hobey Baker is recognized as one of the finest American amateur athletes in the early 1900s. He played collegiately at Princeton University, and later enlisted in the U.S. Army for World War I. A test-pilot, Baker, 26, died in a plane crash hours before his scheduled return to America. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945, and, in 1975, both the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and College Football Hall of Fame.

The Hobey Baker Award was first presented in 1981 and recent recipients include New York Ranger Jimmy Vesey (2016, Harvard), Buffalo Sabre Jack Eichel (2015, Boston University) and Calgary Flame Johnny Gaudreau (2014, Boston College). Others who won include Chris Drury (1998), Ryan Miller (2001), Paul Kariya (1993) and Neal Broten (1981).

kmcmillan@th-record.com

©2018 The Times Herald-Record, Middletown, N.Y.
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