Gustav Nyquist found himself in a situation that might make some hockey players nervous.

As he was being interviewed on national television by Barry Melrose, the gregarious ESPN analyst and former NHL coach, Nyquist stood behind the bronze Hobey Baker Award and listened as Melrose asked him about his first two years at Maine and the importance of having his grandfather, Bengt-Goran Nilsson, at Detroit’s Ford Field for the presentation of the award given to the top NCAA Division I hockey player.

Nyquist, a sophomore right wing for the University of Maine, didn’t flinch. Instead, he handled the situation in his usual way.

“I see his poise under pressure and his perspective under pressure,” Maine Coach Tim Whitehead said. “He doesn’t get rattled by anything. Most importantly, he’s got a good perspective on things. He relaxes and he’s himself. It was like he plays the game. He enjoys it even in the most pressurized moments.”

Nyquist joined Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion and New Hampshire’s Bobby Butler as the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award presentation.

The winner was Geoffrion, whose grandfather, Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, and great grandfather, Howie Morenz, are both in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Geoffrion’s father, Danny, also played in the NHL.

Geoffrion has 28 goals and 22 assists in 39 games this season and leads the nation with 15 power-play goals heading into tonight’s national championship game against Boston College. He’s the first Wisconsin player to win the Hobey Baker.

Butler led New Hampshire in scoring with 29 goals and 24 assists in 39 games, then signed with the Ottawa Senators at the conclusion of his senior season. He was also a nominee for this year’s Hockey Humanitarian Award.

Nyquist was Maine’s first Hobey Baker Award finalist since Greg Moore of Lisbon in 2006. In his second season at Maine, Nyquist was the nation’s leading scorer with 19 goals and 42 assists in 39 games for the Black Bears, who reached the Hockey East championship game.

“I’m very honored to be able to sit next to those guys,” said Nyquist, who was also named an American Hockey Coaches Association/Reebok All-American. “They’ve shown everyone that they are great players. Blake really deserve the award. I think we were all pretty nervous, and I’m sure he was pleased to hear his name.”

Jim Nill, assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, who drafted Nyquist in 2008, said the organization has been pleased with Nyquist’s development in his two years at Maine.

“We knew that he had pretty good skill and that he had to develop physically and mentally,” Nill said. “Over the past two years, he’s gotten stronger and smarter to become an elite player.

“Being one of the better players at a certain level will never hurt you. He’s going to keep developing. But to see what he’s done over the last two years is amazing.”

Nyquist plans to return to the Black Bears for his junior season.

“It’s a great honor for one of our players to be considered one of the top three in the country, and deservedly so,” Whitehead said. “The fact he’s coming back next year to play is even sweeter, and shows a lot of maturity on his part.”

 

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:

[email protected]