Khodorenko, Slaker tabbed California Rubber NCAA Men’s Players of the Year
It’s not essential to have the Big 10 Network if you like keeping track of top hockey talent from California, but during the 2019-20 season, it sure helped.
Five of the players on California Rubber Magazine’s annual All-California NCAA Men’s Team played in the league, including co-players of the year Patrick Khodorenko of Michigan State and Jake Slaker of Michigan.
The seniors were alternate captains and their team’s leading scorers on opposite sides of one of college sports’ most bitter rivalries.
Khodorenko, who signed with the New York Rangers, cracked the 30-point plateau for the third year in a row and finishes his career with 120 points in 142 games. The Walnut Creek native centered Michigan State’s top line, played on every special teams unit and had 16 goals among 33 points to help the program to its most wins in six seasons.
Slaker, an alternate captain the past three seasons, had his best offensive season, leading Michigan in goals (14), assists (17), points (31). The San Diego product also led the team with 13 power-play points and three game-winning goals. He wraps up his Wolverines career with 104 points over 143 games.
The duo headlines another strong crop of NCAA Division I players from the Golden State.
Trevin Kozlowski, Army West Point – The junior from Los Angeles helped the Black Knights contend for Atlantic Hockey’s title while posting a 17-11-3 record, a sparkling 2.20 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.
Gavin Nieto, Brown – The senior from Yorba Linda had his best season yet, amassing a 2.42 GAA and a .914 save percentage. He had seven of the Bears’ eight wins, and two of those were shutouts.
Ryan Johnson, Minnesota – The freshman from Irvine, a Buffalo Sabres draft pick, played in all 37 Gophers games, had eight assists and 57 blocks.
Nate Kallen, Ferris State – The durable senior (145 games in four seasons) from San Diego had 16 points while captaining the Bulldogs. Signed with Maine (ECHL) after the season.
Rourke Russell, Miami – The junior from Long Beach set career highs in points (13) and assists (12). He also had 52 blocks.
Jack St. Ivany, Yale – A Philadelphia Flyers pick, the sophomore from Manhattan Beach upped his points (16), assists (15) and games (32) totals this year.
Tyler Rockwell, Michigan Tech – The junior from San Jose plays a solid, two-way game every night (38 games, nine points, is a plus player, 45 blocks).
Cam York, Michigan – Another Flyers pick, he was a finalist for the Big 10 Freshman of the Year. Not only was he the Wolverines’ highest-scoring defenseman and freshman (16 points in 30 games), but he was second with a plus-9 and third with 54 blocks.
Elijiah Barriga, AIC – The sophomore from West Covina scored a career-high 19 points, including 11 goals, and won an unreal 59 percent of his 352 faceoffs.
Lawton Courtnall, Western Michigan – The senior from Westlake Village took on a bigger role and responded with a career-high 10 points. He played 138 career games.
Vincent de Mey, Northern Michigan – The Los Angeles native blew up as a sophomore, burying 15 goals among his 28 points. His six power-play goals matched his freshman point total.
Andre Ghantous, Northern Michigan – He had the most points (22) of any freshman from California, and he scored 11 goals.
Cole Guttman, Denver – The sophomore from Los Angeles led NCAA D-I with six game-winning goals. Eight of his 14 goals came on the power play, his 28 points were a career best, and he won a team-high 55 percent of his draws.
Jake Hamacher, RIT – The junior from Corona had 26 points on just 56 shots on goal. His 17 assists were second on the Tigers.
Niko Hildenbrand, Massachusetts – The two-year captain from Vacaville is durable (136 career games) and strong defensively (plus-14). He scored in double figures for the third time in four seasons.
Tyson McLellan, Denver – The two-year alternate captain from San Jose hit double figures in points for the third time in his four seasons and won 52 percent of his faceoffs.
Brannon McManus, Minnesota – The junior from Newport Beach had career highs in points (27), assists (18) and games (37) for the resurgent Gophers. His plus-10 led the team.
Nick Rivera, Minnesota State – The Mavericks’ two-time captain again hit double figures in goals and was a career-best plus-14. The senior from Pacific Palisades finished his career having played an incredible 151 games.
Ethan Somoza, Bemidji State – The Simi Valley native emerged during his junior season with career highs in points (18), goals (six) and assists (12) for the up-and-coming Beavers.
Khodorenko photo/Michigan State University Athletics
Slaker photo/University of Michigan Athletics
— Compiled by Chris Bayee
(May 14, 2020)