What looked to be a one-player race for the WCHA's rookie of the year award early in the season is getting more crowded.
Gophers freshman Kyle Rau looked like a runaway winner early in the season when he was scoring so many goals. He has fallen to second among all rookies in NCAA hockey with 13 goals -- Alex Guptill of Michigan has 14 -- and second in points, too, with 27. Denver defenseman Joey LaLeggia has passed him for first in points with 28 and tied him in national rookie of the month awards with one.
Rau was the national rookie of the month in October. He had seven goals and six assists in his first month of college hockey, but has only six goals and eighth assists in his last three months.
LaLeggia was named the Hockey Commissioners Association national Division rookie of the month for January. He led the Pioneers to a 5-1 record last month with two goals and 10 assists. The 5-10, 180-pound LaLeggia, from Burnaby, B.C., was a plus-4 for the month, with 11 hits and 11 blocked shots. He had at least one point in every game and five consecutive multiple-point games.
He has an eight-game points scoring streak during which he has four goals and 11 assists.
He leads all rookie blue liners in goals with 10 and assists with 18.
LaLeggia and Rau might bump bodies a few time next weekend when the Gophers play at Denver on Feb. 10-11.
Four other WCHA freshmen also have at least 20 points and could be in the rookie of the year discussion with strong finishes:
* Caleb Hebert, UMD, forward, 10-13--23 ... Still remember nasty move he made on Gophers D-man Ben Marshall to score a goal early in the season
* Jayson Megna, Nebraska Omaha, forward, 8-15--23 ... primarily set-up man
* Jean-Paul Lafontaine, Minnesota State, 12-10--22 ... could be overlooked because team is not doing well
* Andrew Prochno, St. Cloud State, 4-17--21 ... one of bright spots for Huskies in injury-riddled season
MICHIGAN GOALIE RECOGNIZED
Goalie Shawn Hunwick, a fifth-year senior for Michigan, has been named the national player of the month. He was 4-1 with a 1.09 goals-against average and .971 save percentage in January.
Hunwick, of Sterling Heights, Mich., is second in the CCHA with a 2.07 GAA. He is ninth nationally with a .928 save percentage.
Forward Brock Nelson of North Dakota was one of four honorable mentions for national player of the month.