Dan Colleran | March 16, 2017
The Hockey East Association announced the first round of league award winners on Wednesday morning and Notre Dame sophomore Dennis Gilbert was selected as the `47 Brand Best Defensive Defenseman, while freshman defenseman Andrew Peeke was named to the Pro Ambitions All-Rookie Team. The awards were voted on by the league's 12 head coaches.
Gilbert has played in all 36 games this season for the Irish and chipped in a career-high 21 assists, which rank third on the team. He posted seven multi-assist games and, over Notre Dame's last 10 games, he totaled 10 assists to help the Irish to a 7-1-2 record down the stretch. He is Notre Dame's first Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman award winner.
A third-round draft pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 NHL Draft (91st overall), Gilbert leads all of Hockey East by a considerable margin in plus/minus, as he will carry a +28 rating into this weekend's conference tournament semifinal game against UMass Lowell. The +28 mark ranks third in the country. He has also blocked 70 shots this season, which ranks second on the team and sixth in the league.
Peeke has also been a staple on the Irish blue line, skating in all 36 games. The only defenseman selected to the All-Rookie Team, Peeke has scored four goals and added nine assists for 13 points. He becomes the fourth Notre Dame player to be named to the Hockey East All-Rookie team, joining Vince Hinostroza (2014), Cal Petersen (2015) and Bobby Nardella (2016).
A second-round selection by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2016 NHL Draft (34th overall), Peeke leads the Irish with 74 blocked shots on the season, which ranks fifth in Hockey East and tied for 19th in the country. He scored his first career goal in Notre Dame's 5-2 win at Northeastern (Nov. 12). He also scored the game-winning goal and added an assist for his first career multi-point game in Notre Dame's 4-1 win over UMass Lowell (Nov. 18).
In addition, Hockey East announced Anders Bjork tied with Boston University's Clayton Keller and New Hampshire's Tyler Kelleher for the ARMY ROTC Three Stars Award as the trio accumulated the same amount of points from being named one of the ARMY ROTC Three Stars of the Game after each league contest.