Defense has been the theme in college hockey this season, and on Thursday that carried over to the awards circuit when three defensemen – St. Cloud State’s Jimmy Schuldt, Massachusetts’ Cale Makar and Harvard’s Adam Fox – were named Hobey Baker Hat Trick finalists for the award that honors the nation’s top player.

The winner will be announced April 12 in Buffalo, N.Y., during NCAA Frozen Four weekend. The Hobey Hat Trick finalists were selected from a list of 10 candidates by a 29-member selection committee plus a round of online fan voting. Criteria for the award include: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.

A look at the finalists:

Adam Fox, junior defenseman, Harvard: Earned first-team All-America honors in his freshman and sophomore seasons and is tied for seventh in the nation in scoring (nine goals, 36 assists, 45 points). Leads the nation in assists and ranks second in the country in points per game (1.41). Fox was a third-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames in 2015, and his rights were traded to the Carolina Hurricanes last year. He has indicated he plans to return to Harvard for his senior season, and the Hurricanes are considering trading his rights.

Cale Makar, sophomore defenseman, Massachusetts: The Hockey East player of the year has led the Minutemen to their first Frozen Four appearance. Makar ranks third nationally in points (16-32—48) and his plus/minus of plus-32 is third in the country. He is the first defenseman in 20 years to lead Hockey East in scoring. The fourth overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft by Colorado, Makar is a strong candidate to sign with the Avalanche after Massachusetts’ season is complete.

Jimmy Schuldt, senior defenseman, St. Cloud State: The Minnetonka native was a three-time captain for the Huskies and opted to return for his senior season rather than sign with an NHL team. He had 10 goals and 25 assists and was a plus-24 for St. Cloud State, which won the NCHC regular-season title and was ranked No. 1 for most of the season. The NCHC player of the year also was a four-time conference scholar-athlete award winner. Schuldt on Wednesday signed a free-agent contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.

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