BLOOMINGTON, Minn. – March 4, 2021 – The first of six consecutive Hobey Baker Award winners for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association between 2002-2007, Minnesota's Jordan Leopold 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.
Leopold debuted with the Gophers in 1998-99, registering 23 points on seven goals and 16 assists to earn All-WCHA and WCHA All-Rookie honors. He followed his debut season with another All-WCHA performance as a sophomore for the Maroon & Gold, posting a 6g-18a/24pt scoring line.
Over the next two seasons, the Golden Valley, Minn., native would establish himself as one of the top defenders in college hockey, winning back-to-back WCHA Defensive Player of the Year Awards along with two more All-WCHA nods, a pair of All-America accolades and the 2002 Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey to cap a memorable senior season.
In 2001-02, Leopold captained a Golden Gopher squad that reached the WCHA Final Five championship game before landing a No. 2 seed in the NCAA West Regional. Leopold earned All-Region honors as the Gophers dispatched Colorado College, 4-2, in Ann Arbor, Mich., to advance to the Frozen Four.
Playing in Minnesota's first Frozen Four since 1995 and skating just a few miles from campus at St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center, Minnesota took down Michigan, 3-2, in the semifinals before capping the season with a 4-3 overtime win over Maine to capture the school's first national championship since 1979. Leopold earned All-Tournament honors after assisting on the championship-winning goal.
The victory, coupled with his selection as the Hobey Baker winner, made Leopold the first Gopher to win both the Hobey and a national championship in the same season.
Leopold finished his collegiate career with 144 points on 45 goals and 99 assists. His goal total remains a Minnesota defenseman record and ranks No. 6 all-time among WCHA blueliners. The assist and point totals still rank among the top-25 defender totals in the league record book.
In 2002, Leopold began a 12-season NHL career that included stops with Calgary, Colorado, Buffalo, St. Louis, Florida, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Minnesota. Internationally, he was a member of the U.S. Olympic Team at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino and suited up for U.S. squads at the 2002, 2003 and 2005 World Championships and the 1999 and 2000 World Junior Championships.
Leopold is the sixth of seven Player of the Decade honorees that will be announced by the WCHA during the 2020-21 season. The WCHA is also honoring an outstanding coach and selecting an All-Decade Team for each decade as the league celebrates 70 Years of Excellence.
Other Top Players of the 2000s
Matt Carle, Denver, 2003-06: 2006 Hobey Baker Winner … Earned WCHA Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2005-06, becoming the only blueliner in league history to win both awards in the same season … Two-time All-American (2004-05, 2005-06) … Two-time All-WCHA (2004-05, 2005-06) … WCHA All-Rookie Team in 2003-04. Ryan Duncan, North Dakota, 2005-09: Hobey Baker Award winner, WCHA Player of the Year and WCHA Scoring Champion in 2006-07 … Three-time All-WCHA (2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09) … Scored 172 points on 85 goals and 87 assists in his Fighting Sioux career. Junior Lessard, Minnesota Duluth, 2000-04: Hobey Baker Award winner, WCHA Player of the Year, WCHA Scoring Champion, All-American and All-WCHA in 2003-04 … Tallied 142 points on 74 goals and 68 assists for the Bulldogs. Peter Sejna, Colorado College, 2000-03: Won Colorado College's first Hobey Baker Award in 2003 … WCHA Player of the Year in 2002-03 … WCHA Rookie of the Year in 2000-01 … Three-time All-WCHA (2000-01, 2001-02, 2003) … WCHA All-Rookie Team (2000-01) … Earned All-America honors in 2003 … WCHA Scoring Champion in 2002-03. Marty Sertich, Colorado College, 2002-06: Hobey Baker Award winner, WCHA Player of the Year and WCHA Scoring Champion in 2004-05 … Led the nation in scoring in his Hobey Baker-winning season … Two-time All-WCHA (2004-05, 2005-06) … Earned All-America honors in 2004-05 … finished his career with 182 points on 61 goals and 121 assists.
Previous 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
For more on the 2000s 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.