BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – March 18, 2021 – The captain of Minnesota Duluth's first national championship team and the WCHA's most recent Hobey Baker winner, Minnesota Duluth's Jack Connolly has been named the WCHA Player of the Decade for the 2000s. The honor is presented by Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup and SPIRE Credit Union.
"I'm grateful and honored to not only be named to the 2010's WCHA All-Decade Team but to be named the 2010's WCHA Player of the Decade as well," Connolly said. "My four years at UMD were some of the most fun and memorable years of my hockey career. It was a dream come true for me to play college hockey for my hometown Bulldogs and playing in front of my family and friends was very special for me. The WCHA was arguably the best conference in all of college hockey and to look back at some of the teams and rivalries makes me feel so fortunate to have been able to play in the league. Winning the 2011 national championship in St. Paul, as well as capping off my senior year with the 2012 Hobey Baker Memorial Award are highlights from my time at UMD that I will never forget. With so many amazing players who have played in the WCHA over the years, I'm extremely humbled to be included in such a talented and special group of honorees. I am very proud to be able to say I played in the WCHA!"
A Duluth, Minn., native, Connolly joined the Bulldogs in 2008-09 after a season with the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede in which he was named the league's Junior Player of the Year. He tallied 29 points on 10 goals and 19 assists as a freshman as UMD won the WCHA Final Five title and reached the final of the West Regional in Minneapolis. As a sophomore, Connolly's production jumped to 49 points as he potted 18 goals and dished out 31 assists to earn All-WCHA and All-America honors. Off the ice, he was named to the first of three career WCHA All-Academic Teams.
But over his final two seasons, Connolly would establish himself as one of the top players in college hockey. As junior, Connolly captained a UMD squad that captured the program's first national title with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over Michigan in the national championship game at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center. Connolly led the Bulldogs in scoring that season with 59 points on 18 goals and a career-high 41 assists to again earn All-WCHA and All-American honors and a spot on the finalist list for the Hobey Baker Award.
The Hobey nod was a sign of things to come as Connolly authored a senior campaign that saw him win the WCHA Scoring Championship along with WCHA Player of the Year honors and his third All-America and All-WCHA awards before he heard his name called as the 2011-12 Hobey Baker winner, the 15th player in WCHA history to earn the accolade.
Connolly finished his UMD career eighth on the school's scoring list with 197 points on 66 goals and 131 assists and did not miss a contest in his 166-game career. His assist total ranks 24th in WCHA history.
Following his time at UMD, Connolly began his professional career with Färjestad BK in the Swedish Elite League and is now in his ninth season in Sweden and his third with Luleå HF.
Connolly is the seventh and final Player of the Decade honoree announced by the WCHA during the 2020-21 season. The WCHA also honored an outstanding coach and selected an All-Decade Team for each decade as the league celebrates 70 Years of Excellence.
Other Top Players of the 2010s
Marc Michaelis, F, Minnesota State, 2016-20: Ended his Minnesota State career as the most-prolific scorer in the post-realignment WCHA, topping career post-realignment categories in points (162), goals (71), power play goals (30) and shorthanded goals (10) … Ranked second in game-winning goals (12) and fourth in assists (91). Dryden McKay, G, Minnesota State, 2018-present: Only active player to earn WCHA All-Decade honors … Three-time WCHA Goaltending Champion with league-play averages of 1.35 in 2018-19, 1.17 in 2019-20 and 1.07 in 2020-21 … The marks are the three lowest in league play in WCHA history … … Holds the WCHA career shutout record with 23 and is just three shutouts away from tying the NCAA record of 26. Justin Schultz, D, Wisconsin, 2009-12: One of four WCHA players to win back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards and one of five multiple-time winners … Led the nation in defenseman goals in 2010-11 with 18, which at the time was the most for any defenseman nationally since 2002–03. Michael Bitzer, G, Bemidji State, 2014-18: Set a then-WCHA career record with 21 shutouts, a mark that still stands as the third-best total in NCAA history … WCHA Goaltending Champion in 2016-17 with a 1.40 GAA.
WCHA Player of the Decade Winners
1950s: John Mayasich, F, Minnesota
1960s: Keith Christiansen, F, Minnesota Duluth
1970s: Mark Johnson, F, Wisconsin
1980s: Tony Hrkac, F, North Dakota
1990s: Mike Crowley, D, Minnesota
2000s: Jordan Leopold, D, Minnesota
2010s: Jack Connolly, F, Minnesota Duluth
For more on the 2010s and the rest of the WCHA's history, visit our 70 Years of Excellence Page.
Celebrating 70 Years of Excellence
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association will celebrate 70 Years of Excellence throughout the 2020-21 season. The league will name all-decade teams and players and coaches of the decade for each of its seven decades. The teams and individuals will be selected by a panel of current and former WCHA staffers and media members who have or are currently covering the WCHA. More than 200 nominees were submitted for consideration by the 21 schools that have called the WCHA home since 1951.
About Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup
Anderson's Maple Syrup Inc. is proud to continue its 90-year tradition of producing, processing, and packaging consistently high-quality pure maple syrup, organic pure maple syrup, and other maple products. For more information, visit Anderson's Pure Maple Syrup.
About Spire Credit Union
Founded in 1934, SPIRE Credit Union's commitment to friendly, personal and genuine service remains today. Founded as Twin Cities Co-ops Credit Union, SPIRE strives to improve lives through banking with a purpose as one of Minnesota's top credit unions. For more information, SPIRE Credit Union.
About the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Men's League
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association, among the most historic, tradition-rich and successful conferences in all of collegiate athletics, is marking its 69th season of men's competition in 2020-21. The 10-team NCAA Division I conference consists of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (Chargers), the University of Alaska Anchorage (Seawolves), the University of Alaska (Nanooks), Bemidji State University (Beavers), Bowling Green State University (Falcons), Ferris State University (Bulldogs), Lake Superior State University (Lakers), Michigan Technological University (Huskies), Minnesota State University (Mavericks) and Northern Michigan University (Wildcats). For more information, visit wcha.com.