Goalie Keith Kinkaid helped the Union College hockey team accomplish two firsts for the program at the Division I level. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute forward Chase Polacek and defenseman Nick Bailen enabled the Engineers to recover from some key losses on offense and reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in 16 years.
The three were recognized for their outstanding seasons, earning All-America honors from the American Hockey Coaches Association on Friday.
Kinkaid and Polacek were named to the East first team. Polacek was on the first team last year, and is the only repeat winner.
Bailen made the second team.
Kinkaid, a sophomore, won the Ken Dryden Award as ECAC Hockey’s top goalie and a first-team All-ECACH after going 17-3-2 in league play with a 1.90 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and two shutouts. The Dutchmen won their first ECACH regular-season title in their 20 years at the Division I level, and also played in their first NCAA Division I hockey tournament.
“I’m very proud,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “He’s extremely worthy of being in the class of the top goaltenders in the nation. It also speaks to the team and the type of team defense that we played.”
Overall, Kinkaid was 25-10-3 with a 1.99 GAA, a .920 save percentage and three shutouts. He is the second Union D-I player to be named All-America, joining goalie Trevor Koenig, who earned first-team honors in 1997. Three players from Union’s Division III era earned All-America second team — goalies Wayne McDougall (1986) and Ron Kinghorn (1989), and defenseman Jack Rankin (1977).
“It’s an honor,” Kinkaid said. “It wouldn’t be possible without my teammates. A big shoutout goes out to them.”
Before the season, there were questions about where Polacek and the Engineers would be able to find offense after the loss of three key players who combined for 36 of RPI’s 109 goals. Jerry D’Amigo (10 goals) and Brandon Pirri (11 goals) left for the pros after one year at RPI, while Paul Kerins (15 goals) graduated.
But Polacek and Bailen helped the Engineers keep the offensive pace going, scoring 110 goals.
Polacek, who signed with the AHL’s Peoria Rivermen last week, won his second straight ECAC Hockey Player of the Year Award, just the third player in the league’s 50-year history to accomplish the feat. He was RPI’s leading scorer with 21 goals and 27 assists. Polacek was named to the All-ECACH first team for the second consecutive season. He finished his career with 160 point.
He is the fifth RPI player to repeat as a first-team All-America.
“Back-to-back Hobey Baker
finalist, back-to-back ECAC Player of the Year and back-to-back All-American, it’s incredible,” RPI coach Seth Appert said. “It’s well deserved. We’re very proud of him. We’re certainly going to miss him. We’re going to miss him as a person, we’re going to miss him on our campus, and we’re going to miss him on the ice.
“It’s a great accomplishment. It speaks to the development he had in his career, to go from a real talented player to a dominant player. He’s going to go down as one of the best player to play at RPI in the last 15 to 20 years.”