Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute freshman goalie Jason Kasdorf started the season as the team’s No. 3 goalie.
By the midway point of the year, Kasdorf was a big reason the Engineers had their highest finish in the ECAC Hockey standings under head coach Seth Appert.
Kasdorf was named ECACH Rookie of the Year at the league’s awards ceremony Thursday at the Trump Plaza. He is the fifth RPI player to win the award, joining forward Bob Brinkworth, who was the first winner of the award in 1962, goalie Don Cutts in 1972, forward George Servinis in 1983 and forward Jerry D’Amigo in 2010.
Winning Rookie of the Year wasn’t the only honor bestowed on Kasdorf. He was named to the ECACH All-Rookie team and was a second team All-ECACH.
“It feels great,” Kasdorf said. “I’d like to thank my team, though. They’ve been a huge part of it. They played great in front of me. I couldn’t have gotten these rewards without them.”
Kasdorf posted a 12-2-2 in ECACH play. He finished with the best goals-against average in the league at 1.39, and was second in save percentage at .945. He had three shutouts.
He made his collegiate debut Nov. 8 against Union when he replaced Bryce Merriam at the start of the third period. Kasdorf stopped all eight shots he faced in the Eng-ineers’ 7-3 loss.
Kasdorf’s first start came Nov. 15 against Mercyhurst. He made 30 saves in RPI’s 4-1 win.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Kasdorf said. “I wasn’t expecting to play much this year, at all. The opportunity came up for me to get in a game, and I ended up having a good game. I kept working hard from there.”
Kasdorf, a Winnipeg Jets’ draft pick, was particularly strong in February, as the Engineers skated toward the second seed in the ECACH tournament. He was 7-1-0 with a 1.48 GAA and a .940 save percentage.
Kasdorf’s overall record was 14-5-2 with a 1.62 GAA, a .935 save percentage and three shutouts. He was ECACH goalie of the week twice, rookie of the week three times, rookie of the month once and goalie of the month once. Kasdorf also earned the Hockey Commissioners Association national rookie of the month once.
“It’s a credit to his work ethic,” Appert said. “He’s an NHL draft pick. He came in not pretentious at all, knowing he had to earn everything he got. He didn’t start the first nine games of the season. What it shows is he didn’t come in whining and complaining about his situation. He worked to change it.
“His work ethic and his commitment to his daily habits enabled him to earn that first start, and then to continue to have success after that.”
RPI senior defenseman Nick Bailen was named to the first team All-ECACH. Bailen was the league’s second-leading scorer among defenseman with nine goals and 10 assists. St. Lawrence’s George Hughes, who was also named to the first team, was the top defensive scorer with five goals and 16 assists.
Overall, Bailen led RPI in scoring with 12 goals and 19 assists.
“Nick will go down as one of the best defensemen to ever play at RPI,” Appert said.
Union, the defending ECACH tournament champions, had three players named to All-ECACH teams. Sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who was third among blue liners in scoring with three goals and 15 assists, made the second team. Junior defenseman Mat Bodie (3-8-11) and junior forward Daniel Carr (9-10-19) were on the third team.
“As we told the guys, it’s a team award,” said Union coach Rick Bennett, whose team faces Yale in the semifinals tonight at 7:30 at Boardwalk Hall. “Those guys are very appreciative. They’re excellent hockey players, and they were rewarded for that. But these guys are great because they don’t forget their teammates and what it took for their teammates to help them get these awards.”
ECACH regular-season champion Quinnipiac was honored with four awards, with one player winning two times. Senior goalie Eric Hartzell was named Player of the Year and won the Ken Dryden Award as goalie of the year. Hartzell was 17-2-3 with a 1.43 GAA, a .935 save percentage and two shutouts.
Bobcats coach Rand Pecknold won the Tim Taylor Award as coach of the year.
Quinnipiac senior Zach Davies was named Best Defensive Defenseman. Union senior Greg Coburn was a finalist for the award.
Cornell senior Greg Miller won Best Defensive Forward.
HOBEY BAKER FINALISTS
The ECACH has three Hobey Baker Award finalists. They are Hartzell and St. Lawrence forwards Greg Carey and Kyle Flanagan.