UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State men’s ice hockey team just completed its sixth season as a varsity program earning a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament and earlier this week announced its 2017-18 team awards.
In total five team voted awards were handed out including the Team Culture Award, which is new starting this season. The other four awards are the Team MVP, the top defenseman, the freshman of the year and the players’ player. Additionally the team also recognized the top scorer and top student-athlete as well as the Iron Lion, which recognizes hard work and dedication in the weight room.
After a dominating two-way performance all season that culminated in earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and First-Team All-Conference accolades, senior Trevor Hamilton (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.) was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player and the Top Defenseman.
Hamilton, who recently signed a one-year contract with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, led all Big Ten defensemen with 29 points this season including a single-season Penn State defenseman record with 23 assists while adding six goals. Hamilton also led the entire nation for the second-consecutive season in blocked shots with 109, which is also a Penn State single-season record. Hamilton finished tied for the team lead in plus/minus with a plus-13 rating and was one of just five players to appear in every game this season.
Fellow blue-liner Cole Hults (Stoughton, Wis.), who also appeared in all 38 games this season, was voted the team’s Freshman of the Year after a 20-point season with three goals and 17 assists. Hults finished ninth in the Big Ten in scoring among first-year players and third among defensemen. His 17 assists were also the fourth highest total in the Big Ten for freshmen. Hults’ 66 blocked shots were the second-most by a Big Ten freshman and tied for eighth overall in the conference.
Senior Erik Autio (Espoo, Finland) was named the 2017-18 Players’ Player, which honors the player who best exemplifies work ethic and commitment to Penn State hockey’s on ice objectives. Autio, who served as alternate captain this season, registered 14 points on two goals and 12 assists.
Senior captain James Robinson (Cochrane, Alb.) earned the inaugural Penn State Hockey Culture Award as the student-athlete who best influences a positive culture of quality and values off the ice. Robinson used his gritty, hardworking style of play on the ice by consistently matching up with each team’s top line game-in and game-out while also having a career-year offensively with six goals and five assists for 11 points.
Junior Andrew Sturtz (Buffalo, N.Y.), who recently signed a two-year, entry level contract with the Ottawa Senators, was the 2017-18 top scorer registering a career-high 40 points to lead the team with 14 goals and 26 assists. Sturtz became just the third Nittany Lion ever to reach 40 points in a single-season while his 26 assists are the second most all-time in a single-season in program history. Sturtz also became the program’s all-time leading goal scorer (54 goals) as well as just the second Penn State player to reach the 100 point plateau where he now ranks second with 104 points. Sturtz’s 40 points were also good for seventh in the Big Ten and tied for 30th in the nation.
For the second-consecutive season, junior Chase Berger (St. Louis, Mo.) earned the team’s top scholar award as the Finance major has a 3.96 cumulative GPA and recorded a perfect 4.0 during the fall 2017 semester. Berger also finished tied for fifth on the team with 27 points on 11 goals and 16 assists.
In the weight room, sophomore Nate Sucese (Fairport, N.Y.) was named the Iron Lion, which is given to the player with the best cumulative score and the highest strength index relative to body weight during preseason testing. The sophomore tied for third on the team in scoring for the second-consecutive season with 29 points on 14 goals and 15 assists.