Paul Thompson named NE's Most Valuable Player, Best Forward; Kessel named NE All Star
BOSTON – Senior forward Paul Thompson (Derry, N.H.), of the ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire men's hockey team, was named the Leonard Fowle Most Valuable Player for New England and was also honored with the Herb Gallagher Award, given to the best forward in the region. In addition, Thompson and junior Blake Kessel (Verona, Wis.) were named 2010-11 New England Men's Division I All-Star. The announcements were made on Wednesday, March 30 and will be presented at the New England Hockey Writers annual awards banquet on Wednesday, April 13 at the Prince Restaurant in Saugus, Mass.
Thompson is the seventh UNH player to win the Leonard Fowle Award and the second in as many seasons after Bobby Butler took home the honor last year. Kevin Regan won the award in 2008, making in three in four years for the Wildcats, while other UNH honorees included Gordie Clark (1974), Ralph Cox (1979), Darren Haydar (2002) and Jason Krog (1999). Thompson also becomes the ninth Wildcat to capture the Herb Gallagher Award, marking the second-straight season a UNH player has swept both awards after Butler also picked up the honor in 2010.
Thompson, who was recently named a Hobey Baker finalist and helped lead the Wildcats to their tenth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance, is no stranger to post-season hardware this season. The senior was also named Hockey East's Athletic Republic Player of the Year, a unanimous Hockey East First-Team All-Star, Army ROTC Three Stars Award winner, Humboldt Storage and Moving Scoring Champion, a three-time Hockey East Athletic Republic Player of the Week and a Hobey Baker Top 10 Finalist.
Thompson rivaled Butler's impressive 2010 season with a remarkable senior campaign of his own, ranking second in the nation in both power play goals (12) and game-winning goals (seven) as well as seventh in goals per game and 10th in points per game. In addition, the New Hampshire native enjoyed a significant season among Hockey East's elite, pacing the conference in points (52), power play goals (12), and game-winning goals (7). He also finished second in goals with 28, third in power play points with 22 and 10th in assists with 24.
Kessel, a 2010-11 Hockey East First-Team All-Star, continued to backbone the UNH defense in his junior season. The blueliner ranks 18th in the nation for defensemen scoring with 0.69 points per game and was named a 2011 Walter Brown Award semifinalist for his efforts. He was even more impressive in Hockey East play, ranking second in defensemen scoring (27), 13th in assists (22) and 18th in power play points (14). The junior chipped in at least 20 assists for the second-straight season and led all UNH blueliners with 27 points.
The two honorees along with the rest of the Wildcats finished the 2010-11 season with a 22-11-6 overall record and reached the NCAA regional finals for the third-consecutive season.